Title: Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
Published: November 6th, 2012 by Little, Brown Books
Format: Audio book narrated by Khirstine Hvam
Genre: Fantasy | Paranormal | Romance
Age group: Young adult
Challenge(s): 2013 TBR Pile | Finish the Series
Grade rate: A+
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?
Daughter of Smoke and Bone was my favorite read of 2011 (see my review here). I was very nervous to pick up Days of Blood & Starlight, I was sure that Taylor would not be able to replicate the awesome perfection of the first book. I didn’t need it to worry because she didn’t let me down.
As with the first book, I will start with a quote:
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living—one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.
Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel—a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.
This was not that world.”
Some people are born with the special ability to string words together in a way that transforms their meaning. That, my dear readers, is the difference between writing and being a gifted author. Needless to say Laini Taylor is a master of her craft. The writing is nothing short of sublime, evocative, lyrical, and wonderful in its inventiveness. The plot is a masterpiece as well; it’s a mix of fantasy, from the chimera and the angels in the world of Eretz; and the real world with its technology and ease of living. There so many twists and turns and many voices telling the story at once. I did not expected what happened towards the end, but I’m very happy that it did. Certain people (and chimera for that matter) had it coming. I’m just saying.
My heart breaks for both Akiva and Karou. For the torture that their feelings brought to them that causes misguided regret, shame and remorse. At times I felt like Karou needed a good throttling and I’m glad that she came to her senses and is acting more like herself by the end. I think this has a lot to do with one of her friends being back at her side. I adore Akiva; he has the ability to dream big and love deeply, to do what it takes to do what’s right. He is so in love and I completely understand what loosing that love would mean to him and to his world.
There is a host of characters that are centric to the story, but it would take a review twice as long as this one to name them all and do them justice. That is to say, that characterization is also very good and we get to meet many new characters in this installment.
Kudos to Khirstine Hvam, the narrator of the audio book because this was one of the most wonderful narrations ever. She was able to make Taylor’s incredible writing come alive with feeling. The voices and the accents were pretty cool to listen to.
The only question now is what to do until Dreams of Gods & Monsters comes out in April of next year? Luckily we get a short novella in November, Night of Cake & Puppets (Zuzanna and Mik’s story), just in time to tie me over the long wait for the conclusion of this outstanding series.
More quotes for you:
“A dream dirty and bruised is better than no dream at all.”
“You have only to begin, Lir. Mercy breeds mercy as slaughter breeds slaughter. We can’t expect the world to be better than we make it.”
“Mercy, she had discovered, made mad alchemy: a drop of it could dilute a lake of hate.”
“Let's just get this out of the way so I can relax. Karou, your friends aren't going to eat us, are they?
"No, Karou thought. They are not. She whispered back, "I don't think so. But try not to look delicious, okay?”
“She thought of Akiva, the night he had come to her at the river, the crushing pain and shame in his face, and love, still love - sorrow and love and hope - and she remembered the night of the Warlord's ball, how Akiva had always been the right to Thiago's wrong, the heat to the Wolf's chill, the safety to this monster's menace.”
“It wasn't disgust she felt for Karou, not anymore; it was indignation. Incredulity. A man like Akiva crosses worlds to find you, infiltrates the enemy capital just to dance with you, bends heaven and hell to avenge your death, saves your comrade and kin from torture and death, and you send him off looking gut-punched, diminished, carved hollow?
About the cover: I like this cover much more than the one for the first book. There is something beautiful about the red painted mask that I just love.