Taylor, Laini. Days of Blood & Starlight (2012). Little, Brown books for Young Readers. 516 pages. $8.99
Daughter of Smoke & Bone | Book Two
Days of Blood & Starlight is the sequel to Daughter of Smoke & Bone. This review could very well contain spoilers for Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Please proceed with caution.
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 anoher 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?
Prague, early may. The sky weighed gray over fairy-tale rooftops, and all the world was watching. Satellites had even been tasked to surveil the Charles Bridge, in case the… visitors… returned. Strange things had happened in this city before, but not this strange. At least, not since video existed to prove it. Or to milk it.
This novel is dark. It’s about war, and it does not pull its punches. It is still beautiful, but it is a different sort of beautiful than its predecessor. It evokes emotion, and those emotions are not always the pleasant ones. It’s a tougher read than Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Much tougher. Kaoru is hurting, and the way she copes is not healthy, and it is hard to read, but you do keep reading because it is written so beautifully and you hope and hope that with each turn of the page things will get closer to being happy for her.
“You know how, at the end of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet wakes up in the crypt and Romeo’s already dead? He thought she was dead so he killed himself right next to her?”
“Yeah. That was awesome.” A pause, followed by “Ow,” suggested elbow punctuation on the part of Mik.
Kaoru ignored it. “Well, imagine if she woke up and he was still alive, but…” She swallowed, waiting out a tremor in her voice. “But he had killed her whole family. And burned her city. And killed and enslaved her people.”
After a long pause, Zuzana said in a small voice, “Oh.”
“Yeah,” said Kaoru, and closed her eyes against the stars.
Days of Blood & Starlight, Chapter 47
It’s darker, and it’s difficult, and the characters that I loved in the first book are still there, but they’re struggling. Everything that matters to them is at stake, and the war they are fighting consumes everything.
The worldbuilding. There’s so much going on and the world is so different from our own but it almost feels like you’re there. Sure, there are some scenes set on present-day Earth, but so much of it is not, and yet it still feels like a fully realized world, and I appreciate that.
It takes its time at first. It builds and it builds and then things start happening, and it’s rushing headlong toward the end of the book, and then you’re there. Thankfully, all three books in the series have been released, but when I initially read it, I had a wait on my hands, and it killed me. Some books are too good to wait for.
I tore through Days of Blood & Starlight, and loved every moment. There are so many wonderful terrible things going on, and I was hanging on every word, rushing to get to the end, but holding myself back to savor it as I read it. I would definitely give this one a 5/5 for being absolutely amazing, and working really well as a bridge between the first and second books.