Saturday, November 24, 2012

Days of Blood and Starlight

by Laini Taylor
Read: November 14 - 21, 2012
Published: November 6th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Library book 
Category: Fantasy YA (But really for everyone)
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone book 2

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? (From Goodreads)

NOTE: I'm starting with SPOILER FREE thoughts on Days of Blood and Starlight (spoiler free for those who have read Daughter of Smoke and Bone), and moving on to some that are a little less free. I'm not giving away anything specific, but enough could be inferred that you may not want to read that part it until after you've finished the book. I will tell you when you get there. 

I know this is a bit unconventional, but so many people have written fantastic reviews of Days of Blood and Starlight, that I don't feel bad. If you have yet to read this book (or series), I STRONGLY encourage you to do so, and I'd love it if you'd come back and read my more spoilery thoughts once you're done. 


“Dead souls dream only of death. Small dreams for small men. It is life that expands to fill worlds. Life is your master, or death is.”
Days of Blood and Starlight begins sometime after Akiva's devastating revelations to Karou at the end of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I won't tell you where the characters are or what they're doing at the start of the story. But I will tell you that this is a difficult book, and it is painful to read at times. But even at the heaviest moments, I saw threads of hope and life weaving their way through the story. Even if it felt like one single strand, I found something to hang onto. It doesn't hurt that the way in which Laini Taylor crafts her words is magical. I found myself stopping to admire how she tells the story at so many points while I was reading it. 

Taylor breaths life into the world and people she created, and they come alive in astonishing detail. I loved getting to know Eretz better and especially the Chimera and Seraphim who live there. I found myself longing to explore the landscape for myself and meet the colorful characters that inhabit it. In Days of Blood and Starlight we see some old faces and meet new ones. Some surprised me, some made me smile and several made me want to punch something. 

Karou and Akiva would never have survived without the support of others, or had the capacity to hurt each other so deeply without the warring nations who surround them. The things they are facing in this story are vast and staggering at times. It makes sense then that in addition to the former lovers, this book follows various viewpoints, and they worked so seamlessly into this tale that I did not mind the many points of views.  

In Daughter of Smoke and Bone it was the blue haired girl Karou who stole my heart. Akiva remained a bit of a mystery (although an intriguing one). For me, Days of Blood and Starlight belongs to him. I felt like I truly got to know his character and his heart, and it blew me away. I can't even express the amount of respect I have for him at this point in the story. 
Their world was a storm of misery and they were caught in its center, in the deceptive stillness that had allowed them to forget, once upon a time, that all around them was a stinging whirl of hatred that would catch them.
(Possible SPOILERS ahead, you've been warned): 

Although there are times where Days of Blood and Starlight felt like one downward spiral, I really loved watching Akiva and Karou rediscover their hope throughout the story. Even though they are physically and emotionally separated through most of the book, their journeys actually parallel each other. They’re both caught up in a horrible war, and neither of them is innocent. But they begin to remember their dream and slowly start to want something different from what they have. Karou’s change is slower to come, but she fell the hardest most recently. When the book opens, she is confused and her spirit is broken. But then she remembers who she is, and she finds reasons to hope despite everything. As for Akiva, his inner strength and utter honesty in who he is and what he has done completely slayed me. My heart bled for him.

I think what is beautiful about Akiva and Karou’s love story is that despite all the horrible things that have taken place because they dared to love, they are hanging onto the dream they created together, no matter how warped and unrecognizable it has become. Although this book doesn’t have any happy reconciliations, their living dream is proof that not everything that came out of their love was ugly. Their dream is the thread of hope that I watched strengthen throughout this book. 
Akiva had never been a stranger, and that was the problem. A kind of call echoed between them, even now, and from the hollow of Karou’s heart where there should have been only enmity and bitterness, came a slow pull of …longing.
I don't know what the future holds for Karou and Akiva, or if they could ever rebuild a relationship. But I have hope. I’m ready for them to stop reliving those moonlit nights in the temple, and make some new memories that aren’t as soul ripping painful.

(End of spoiler section)

Cliffhanger Scale: Medium
Love Triangle Factor: Mild 

Rating: 5 stars


  1. You are so eloquent Lauren. Your review almost makes me want to reread it so I can try and see it like you did. Even though we disagree on this one I always love reading books with you. You always help me think of things in a different light. Wonderful review!

    1. Thank you so much Carrie! I'm sorry you didn't love this one as much, but I'm very hopeful that the next one will be better. I love reading along with you as well. It's always enlightening to me, and makes the experience of a book much richer.

  2. This was a beautiful review! I didn't read the spoiler part though, because I got this one last week and haven't read it yet, but I will. Soon. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the cover and even though the romance in this series is a bit on the backround, I'm in awe of how painful, yet beautiful it is. I need know more about the Chimaera society and see what kind of twists Taylor has come up with. I really, really enjoyed the first book and I can't wait to devour this one. Thank you for sharing, Lauren :)

    Siiri @ Little Pieces of Imagination

    1. YES. The covers of this series are lovely. It personally helped me to go into this not expecting the romance to take up the major part of the book. Although I think it is still a central part of the overall story arc. You will learn a lot more about the larger societies, which was definitely a favorite part of this for me.

  3. I skipped the spoilery part too, but I am going to start this one today (and read it along with Hale Maree this week:)

    But I do love what you said about having to stop to admire Laini Taylor's writing because I remember feeling the same way while reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I'll be back to finish your review after I read Days:))

    1. YAY! This makes me happy Heather. I hope you love this one as well. Feel free to email me as you go along if you have anything you want to get out while you're reading.

      YES. There is more of her gorgeous language in here, although it is tempered by the more grave plot line.

  4. Great review! I really liked this one after being unsure whether to read it or not (first half of Daughter of Smoke and Bone blew me away but the second felt like a let down) but was very glad I did. Agree that Akiva was much better in this book.

    1. I agree! Akiva was so much stronger in this one. I can't wait to find out what happens in the final story.

  5. Ok. I had to take a few deep breaths before I started this one because YOU KNOW how I feel about reading this because you know how I feel about this series. It's something beautiful and very much mine and visceral maybe and unexplainable and I'm scared to death about this second-book thing and about what I've seen around the internet. So deep breath, and then I started to read the unspoilery part of your review. And I felt like it was written for ME. Which is so lovely, because your words are always so eloquent. But enough about that. Yay for hope and all of that. Life. Laini Taylor's language. I think I can do this. Which is GOOD because I literally had to request my PODUNK library system BUY this book for me to read. So once it comes in, I'm #1 on the list - whenever that will be. You'll most likely have to listen to me cry and want to punch things too. I LOVE that you mention Karou was the first book for you and Akiva was the second book for you. I have been so afraid he would be overlooked in this book, although I'm not sure what I have been basing that fear on.

    I can do this, but I'm already dreading the year-long wait for the conclusion. And you know how I hate to finish up a series and put the characters I love so much to rest. OH THE FEELINGS of this series.

    1. I love these long comments! They make us such kindred spirits :). And I'm so happy that my review has helped you face your fear of reading this. I promise the hype is the worst part. I built this one up too, but the story blew me away.

      YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE THIS BOOK. Both Heather and I agree on that!!! And there is so much hope creeping through it. I get what you're saying about the wait for the last one - I'm going to make you read that one too! Then you can always re-read it if you miss the characters.

  6. You are so spot on about this book, Lauren. I could make out the hope in this book too, even when it was at it's lowest. And I thought I loved Akiva after Smoke & Bone, but was Days that opened my eyes to his true beauty and strength. Though my heart also bled for him so painfully at times. *sigh* How long do we have to wait for the next one? Don't know if we can survive it! :) Amazing review.

    1. YES YES!! Oh I agree with this. And Akiva. WOW. Yeah. I just don't have any words for how much I love him at this point. Thanks for helping me through this book.

      The wait will be excruciating!! UGH.


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