New Release Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

days of blood and starlight
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Book #2 – Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Audiobook narrated by Khristine Hvam

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?

D.G.’s Rating – 5 skulls: A

If the first book was light and hope, Days of Blood and Starlight is pain and sorrow, grief and despair, darkness and death, guilt and a heartbreak so vast that sometimes it would overwhelm me in an agony that was almost physical. This is not an easy book to read and it couldn’t have been easy to write. It’s the best portrayal of war I’ve been in YA because even though it’s fantasy, it’s very real.  This is not sanitized violence like in video games; there is blood, hurt and revulsion, with soldiers in both sides wondering if there will ever be an end in sight while their leaders plot atrocities in the name of victory.

I had to take this book in a small doses because I really didn’t see how things could improve. It seems that the destiny of these people was to kill each other until the end of time and frankly if that’s what I wanted to see, I would have watched the news. But then a tendril of hope emerged in the story, frail and almost invisible, which grew in strength as more and more characters realized that there must be another way:

These weren’t her folk but…they were. And maybe that meant that anyone could be anyone’s, which was a sort of nice thing to think with the world falling apart.

Mercy breeds mercy as slaughter breeds slaughter. We can’t expect the world to be better than we make it.

The growth in both characters was a thing to behold. At the beginning of this book, both Karou and Akiva are broken and by the end, they still are. They haven’t come to terms with the past but they are not paralyzed by the scope of their guilt. By degrees, they realize that they cannot change what happened but they can change the future, that their dream is still possible even if it’s not in the form they dreamed it. I don’t know if there’s any future for them but the surprising developments of the story tell me there will be a future for their people.

Don’t be afraid that the book is all darkness. We are saved from a thoroughly depressing read by Zuzana and Mick, which are, hands down, the best secondary couple in YA, EVER! They were the lightness, the laugh, the music and the love that both characters and readers desperately needed. Neither the Chimera nor the Angels have ever lived in peace but Zuzana and Mick are their example that a bright future is possible.

The book was by no means perfect. The narrative was slowed down by changes in POV and long winded thoughts in the middle of action scenes. Sometimes I felt like screaming…get over it already! I really hope that Ms. Taylor curbs this tendency because this time it just affected the pacing of the story, any more could tip her narrative from imaginative and descriptive to self important and maudlin.

Overall, this was a wonderful book and I’m already counting the days until I can see how it all ends.

Rating:  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Series Reading Order:
1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
2. Days of Blood and Starlight

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