LitStack Review: ‘Days of Blood and Starlight’ by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight
Laini Taylor
Little, Brown
ISBN-10: 0316133973
November 6, 2012

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.

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Laini Taylor is a world builder. That is true of all writers, particularly of those who write genre fiction, but not all Fantasy/SciFi writers can boast worlds that luxuriate in the incomprehensibly beautiful. Greater still is the challenge to bend these transcendent worlds so the reader feels as comfortable there as they are in the privacy of their own homes.

National Book Award finalist, Taylor, crafted a world within our own and brought to life a family made more of hope than blood in her novel Daughter of Smoke and Bone. We meet Karou, a blue-haired art student whose family is a small congregation of “monsters,” or chimaera folk, (creatures that have the attributes of different animals and humans), who rescued her from a fate of senseless punishment.

There is also Zusana, her sarcastic, charming best friend and, of course, Akiva, the boy who means more to her than she realizes, and whose love has breached the infinite depths of time and space. After the first read (because, trust me, it is impossible to refrain from multiple readings of this novel), you will be so fully immersed in Karou’s story, her epic and heartbreaking bond with Akiva, and the damage done to them by war, that your fingers itch to turn the pages of the next installment.

Next week, those itchy fingers will be satisfied.

Days of Blood and Starlight continues Karou’s journey, but it is a trek that is not solely hers to take. Returning again ,and with greater focus, is Zusana and her mission to sort out what happened to her best friend, and Akiva, who searches for Karou and, more hopefully, the forgiveness he believes she will never give him.

The sequel finds Karou in the company of her enemy, taking up the mantel that her surrogate father, Brimstone, carried: the resurrection of their people. Initially, Karou disregards, or perhaps, ignores her own heartache, choosing to coat her shock and loss in a thick veil of rage. Akiva is the source of that rage and Karou seems content to hold tight to her belief that he alone is responsible for her sorrow.

War continues between the few remaining chimaera rebels and the seraphim, Akiva’s people who have sought to decimate the “beasts” with little discretion. But with lifetimes spent in the death and destruction of the enemy, factions – small though they may be – grow weary and separately begin to breathe life into newborn rebellions.

There is heartache in this sequel, understandable when central to this novel is love and loss. There are also moments of shock and sheer joy, some surprising yet bittersweet and expected.

Taylor’s gift is, yes, the imaginative worlds she has woven with her series, but it is hardly her only talent. Words and worlds collide between her pages. Loves are lost and won. Hopes are forgotten and renewed, all made real and vivid. Throughout her novels, Taylor conjures the mystical, the surreal natures of impossible creatures who breathe full gasps of hope and promise. Their struggles become ours, their triumphs and tragedies are felt in our hearts.

Once again, Taylor works enormous magic with simple words, surreal worlds and finely drawn characters. Daughter of Smoke and Bone whetted our appetite and Days of Blood and Starlight leads us deeper into this magical world interwoven with ours. After thoroughly enjoying the latest adventures of Karou and her friends, there is only one question left to ask: where will Taylor take us next?

 

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