Author: Laini Taylor
Published: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars
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*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for Daughter of Smoke & Bone*
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them. And its snap split the world in two.”My Thoughts
― Laini Taylor, Days of Blood & Starlight
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? (Goodreads)
Days of Blood & Starlight may have been darker than its predecessor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, but it was still just as epic. I savored every single page. Once again, we join Karou in her adventures, but this time, she is battered and bruised on the inside and out. For a character that was so alive in Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou was just a shadow of her old self in Days of Blood & Starlight. This did not decrease my love for her. As protagonists go, Karou is still on the top of my list, and the reader cannot expect that she would remain unscathed after she learns of her lover's betrayal. Despite her suffering, Karou is still an amazingly strong individual, unfaltering in her devotion to loved ones. Her unquestionable loyalty to those she cares about leaves her heartbroken when she discovers Akiva's actions. But ever after Akiva has indirectly killed her family, she still feels torn because of the deep love she feels for him and his quest for redemption.
Days of Blood & Starlight heavily stresses upon two star-crossed lovers that shared a dream of peace and of hope, but the romance is not largely focused upon. Even in the first book, romance was put on a back burner. I was alright with this decision because the reader is able to catch a glimpse of the larger picture. If Taylor had filled most of the pages with sweet, soppy scenes, I would not appreciate this series as much as I do. I'd much rather hear about the human world in juxtaposition to Eretz, and about the ongoing battle between seraphim and chimaera that threatens to spill into the parallel world of Earth. Akiva's and Karou's dream is what fuels the plot, but the story does not have to gravitate around their romance. Taylor did an exemplary job of creating a world that has meaning beyond these two individuals. The reader is able to sympathize with both races of seraphim and chimaera because she features civilians and soldiers, chimaera refugees and members of the seraphim harem.
I'm beginning to appreciate the shades of gray that are so wonderfully displayed in fantasy war novels anymore. As with the Chaos Walking series, there is no black and white in Days of Blood & Starlight. Both sides are led by bloodthirsty tyrants, the White Wolf and the Emperor. They crave power, and they use bloodshed and a legacy of fear to attain their desires. Both sides have hundreds and thousands of innocents that have never even picked up a weapon, but are attacked in the name of a forgotten cause. The main goal is to kill simply for the purpose of tallying more deaths than the enemy, and while there are soliders who enjoy a massacre, the majority are tired of fighting. They want peace, and Akiva and Karou are willing to fight for that dream, even if they don't do it together.
In Days of Blood & Starlight, we see the highly anticipated return of some beloved characters. One of my personal favorites is Zuzana, the whimsical, adorable best friend of Karou. I adore her. Mik and her are the sweetest couple, and they both bring a much appreciated lightness to the story. Zuze and Mik go to great lengths to find Karou, and are far from secondary characters. I love when a book highlights a strong, solid friendship where the girls will not stab each other in the back or allow distance to come between them. And the young adult genre needs more books featuring close friendships instead of, or along with, romance. I also enjoyed hearing more about Liraz and Hazael, who are more in this book than they were in Daughter of Smoke & Bone. I came to love Hazael's sense of humor, and even Liraz grew on me. There is more to her than meets the eye.
I would recommend Days of Blood & Starlight for all fans of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and then everyone else. Basically, if you breathe, read this. It is a fantastic series so far, and I am happy to have found it. If you have yet to read Days of Blood & Starlight, you are missing out.