Thursday, July 25, 2013

Days of Blood & Starlight: A Review

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?



Allow me to introduce you to another book I loved. Meet: Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor. A-MAY-ZING. This world is so dark and gritty, so fantastical yet real, that it just blows me away how badly I want to stay in it. Note: If you have not read Daughter of Smoke & Bone, do not read on unless you want spoilers for that book. I repeat, do not read on.

We begin right where Daughter of Smoke & Bone left off (my review of that one), with Akiva and Karou at odds with one another after she learned of his involvement in the horrific fate of her family. Within the magic of the wishbone, Karou remembered her life as Madrigal, complete with her love for Akiva and their plans for a better future. Then Akiva told her about what happened after she saved him from The White Wolf's torture. How he, in his grief, despair, and anger over losing her, and his brother and sister were the ones that marked the doorways and burned her family. He didn't know that Brimstone had saved her. How could he?

There is just as much mystery in this second installment as in the first. Thankfully, Taylor brought back Zuzana and Mik, showing just how strong a friendship can be and how loyal Zuze really is. We see Akiva attempt to repent through his actions the deeds of his past. He can't change what he did, and he knows that, but he can try and change the future, still. 

A major difference between the first and second installment in this series is the darkness surrounding the story. There is definitely a lot more blood than starlight in this one. It definitely sets the tone. I love love love that there isn't a clear cut right/wrong, good/evil. There are elements of each of these on both sides. 

The world Laini Taylor builds with her writing is one I want to come back to. She brings things alive in a way that makes me want to live there, breathe there, and rarely leave there.

I am sad I have already read these. For one, I can't go back and have a first time with them, ever, again. For two, now I have a long ass wait until the third one comes out!!!  :(


How long is the wait for Dreams of Gods & Monsters?! No release date yet? Damn! Are you kidding me ...

This series is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I enjoyed Daughter of Smoke & Bone then waited a bit to read this one. I probably shouldn't have. It took me a little while to feel totally engaged with this book but by the end the hubby was asking what was wrong with me because I was, apparently, gasping out loud at random ... I mean, you'll have that, right?

Thoughts, also possibly at random (don't read them unless you're read book one...):

It took me a while to realize that this book had a lot of elements of high fantasy or epic fantasy. Not sure why I suddenly realized that, but it struck me. I think it's perhaps because the setting is somewhat different (and very original, in my opinion) than a lot that I've read. After book one, I would have probably leaned more toward modern fantasy (even similar in feel to some urban fantasy) with heavy use of inventive mythology. Maybe it was the lack of dragons and elves and orcs and wizardry that you often see in high fantasy. I Don't know. I don't suppose it really matters, but I like that this series is a bit hard to pin down in terms of genre.

I liked the relationship between Karou and Akiva. Or perhaps lack thereof. It was such a big part of book one where Karou was figuring out who she was and who they had been, and I had a little bit of trouble totally buying into their love. There was the obvious connection that she didn't understand herself and then the revelation at the end about her past when her memories came back, but we had no time to process that (nor did she) before she learned all that Akiva had done in the past 17 years. So a romance in this book would have rung false to me. I think the time the two of them have spent apart will set the stage for them to fall in love all over in book three. We shall see.

The blood. Oh. My. Goodness. Days of Blood & Starlight indeed. I think gallons and gallons of blood were spilled in the course of this book. Starlight, I saw little of. It didn't bother me, and it sets the stage for change in book three, but I wasn't quite prepared for it. Again with the similarities to much epic fantasy I've read. Think along the lines of all the battles in The Lord of the Rings. You know the main character and at least some of her close companions are going to pull through, but most other bets are off ...

I love the way this series seems to explore or questions the ideas of good and evil (but not in a heavy handed way). The battle between good and evil is usually a big part of epic fantasy, but you usually have a blatant bad guy who is pure evil. Not so here. Sure there are characters who are evil, but the other side of the war isn't, and that's a big part of the story. And I love that our main character is on the side that humanity would clearly label the "demons." It's so much more common to see the good guy as the bright and shiny side like the seraphim rather than the "beasts." But that would he boring, right?

Laini Taylor's writing is just awesome. I think I've referenced this before, but she's said on her blog that when she revises she makes each word sing for it's supper, and you can really see that. There's just no sloppiness in her work at all. The story might be good enough to distract you from less than great writing, but it doesn't need to. Because with Laini Taylor you get over 500 pages of good writing. I just love seeing the way she strings words together.

I really can't wait for book three's release, and may even have to reread all 900+ pages we have so far in preparation. This series has a permanent home on my shelf.

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