Home  |  Reviews  |  Vlogs  |  Interviews  |  Guest Posts  |  Fairy Tales  |  Jane Austen  |  Memes  |  Policies

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review: Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

Perhaps Fate laid out your life for you like a dress on a bed, and you could either wear it or go naked...

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor 
(Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2)
Fantasy, 528 pages
Expected publication: November 6th 2012 by Little, Brown & Company
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Y'all, why is it so hard to write reviews about the ones you love?

Okay - Last year after I read Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I asked Laini Taylor to marry me. She had to decline, partly because she's already married, but mostly because she doesn't know me, and both of us are straight. (Every relationship has its issues, Laini.)
So, fine. We'll take it slow.

Days of Blood & Starlight is maybe less lyrical and beautiful than Daughter of Smoke & Bone, but somehow better because of it. This isn't to say that Days of Blood & Starlight isn't still beautifully written and compelling, because I doubt anything Taylor writes wouldn't be. But there was a tendency towards being overwrought in book 1 that sometimes seemed to shove the beauty of the writing in your face. It was obviously lovingly crafted, but sometimes showy as a result. But in Days of Blood & Starlight, with this much darker aspect of war and genocide at the fore, rather than just star-crossed love, the floweriness just wouldn't have worked as well, and Taylor seemed to understand this. The story is still beautifully crafted and the writing excellent, but Taylor shows more restraint. She turns her talents to garnering more chills than butterflies; she went in with a knife instead of a quill.
And I love her for it.

I really love the expansion of the world, the new characters we meet, and the new facets of characters we knew (or thought we knew). Karou and Akiva are what one would expect, each dealing with the realizations of who they are and were, and what they and their world have become. Nothing will come easy from here on out, and the milk and honey days of their stolen courtship are a distantly remembered dream. How each deals with this, how each tries to reconcile the things they thought they knew and felt with everything that came after, every horror that has been visited on the world (and on them) since, adds a nice tension to their story and depth to their characters, but I think it's really the peripheral characters that shine in Days of Blood & Starlight. Zuzana is fantastic as always, and I love how she just fearlessly throws herself into things. But the new characters of Eretz, or the expansions of the old ones is fantastic, too. (I mean, do I actually like Liraz? I think I do. I think I might actually be rooting for her. Who saw that coming?)

It would be easy to get caught up in the star-crossed romance in a story like this; it would be too easy to swoon and sigh. Many authors would have been okay with just that, but Taylor knows better.  Karou and Akiva may have lost something powerful and beautiful, but they are not the only ones who have lost. In a war, in a genocide, in a mad power struggle, everyone loses. Everyone has lost. Taylor doesn't just woe-is-me all over the place for the fleeting lost epic love that was Madrigal-and-Akiva; she uses their story as a toehold onto the unscalable mountain that is Power and Lust and Hate and Retaliation (and Love. And Hope. And a million other things deserving of capital letters).  Akiva and Karou are forced to think beyond themselves, to see ramifications and understand the path they walk. It would be easy to give up hope, as Akiva once did; to let themselves be swept up into something "greater" than they, something that takes away the burden of choice.

And I think that's the most beautiful thing about this book, and about Akiva and Karou's story - they could choose to not choose; they could throw themselves into vengeance and retaliation and the Greater Goal. But they always choose choice. They always choose the harder path, the one that means you will do the right thing, but will suffer doing so; the one that means you may lose everything so that others can gain the chance - just a chance - at something more. This, I think, is the reason that theirs is one of the few "epic love stories" that doesn't make me roll my eyes. Theirs has always been a story of choice, and of difficult choice at that; theirs has always been a story of sacrifice and selfishness combined, and there's something painfully honest in that.

In the end, I love what Taylor accomplished in book 2. I love, love, love that she is willing to go dark, but that she always dangles hope. Her vision of the future if things continue as is, is bleak, and she lets the reader know it. Hell, things are bleak now, and she lets the reader know it. She doesn't flinch away from the potential horrors. But she's also wise not to make the book unrelentingly grim - there are always pinpricks of light in the darkness, spots of humor and love and friendship to remind the characters - and the reader - what is worth fighting for. And because of that - the intertwined dark and light - I liked this more than book 1, which I didn't think was going to happen. Equally, yes, but more? That I did not expect. And I am very eager to get my hands on book 3 and see what Taylor makes of these two worlds colliding completely...

[As a side note: I did find this really interesting review on Goodreads where the reader had huge issues with some of the places this book went, and Taylor's treatment of Akiva's character, and more importantly, of genocide. I neither agree nor disagree with her, because I think we approached this book - and maybe reading, in general - very differently, but I do really like what she has to say as a discussion point, and I'm sharing it with you because I think that's one of the beautiful things about a well-written story: it does provoke discussion. Her argument is compelling and valid, and maybe the things that bothered her will bother some of you. So for those of you interested or curious, that review is here.]


  1. This review is right on the money. I loved that this story has grown far beyond two lovers dramatic relationship. I agree, many authors would leave it there and have an ok book, but Taylor takes it so far above and beyond to a book that is truely magical. I've said this before, but I sincerely think this series is the best paranormal romance I've ever read.

    I'm also kind of hoping that Karou and Akiva don't get together, because they aren't the same people that they once were, and they are allowed to choose a different future. I am extremely excited to read the next book, I'm sure it will be just as heart wrenching.

    PS I'm totally on team Ziri anyway, HOLLA!

  2. THIS review. Yes. You've hit the nail on the head here, Misty. I think you expressed everything I felt about Blood & Starlight perfectly.

  3. Thanks, ladies!

    And Amanda - I'm on the fence. I think I still want them together because I want them to overcome and lead by example, in a way. I don't want small minds to have ended them. But I would also respect the story - and Taylor - if they didn't get together in the end. I would understand, and it would make sense.

    And I DO like Ziri, BUT (and maybe this is weird), I totally want to see him woo Liraz. Seriously, there is SOMETHING that could be kinda perfect there.

  4. Beautifully written review! You managed to gush just the right amount while still writing a just-right review and communicating what the book was like and about, where I think I went a tad overboard with mine...then again, I have yet to propose marriage to Laini so you might still have me beat.

  5. Thanks for such an Awesome review.. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy .. Your review is deeee best 5/5 Thanks sooo much again...

  6. I love how you phrase that: "she went in with a knife instead of a quill." But so fitting for the subject matter of this second book, I'm thinking. And I love how you point out that the story always comes back to Karou and Akiva and the choices they make. That's what made Daughter of Smoke and Bone so wonderful for me; I'm eager to see what Taylor does in the sequel!

    I read that Goodreads review. I'm not sure what my opinion is on that quite yet, since I haven't read the book. I have the sense that it won't bother me that much, since this is fiction, and, even more so than that, fantasy. At some points you need to accept that things won't be accounted for in fantasies quite the same way they will as in our real, tangible world. But I'm curious to see what I think after reading the book!

  7. Thanks, αмž and Ash! (And yeah, a marriage proposal probably does still beat straight up gushing... ;P)

    Amanda - Hopefully that review won't bias you while you're reading. I completely see where she is coming from, and I think it makes for an interesting discussion, but I also don't think books necessarily have a responsibility to be anything other than what they are. Does that make sense?

  8. I think this may be my favorite review I've read for DOB&S. You took every feeling I had towards this book and expounded on them perfectly. I just...can it be 2014 now? I need that last book.

    -Kelly @ PaperFantasies

  9. Thanks, Kelly! And yes, it NEEDS to get here already!!

  10. Wow!
    That is my reaction. An absolutely amazing book. I always think I will like Daughter of Smoke and Bone that bit more than this book, but nevertheless it is a fabulous read.

    Maycee Greene (One Way Links)


Tell me all your thoughts.
Let's be best friends.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...