Book Review: Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone # 2)

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Book Review # 23: Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
Copy: Trade paperback
Number of Pages: 517
Date Published: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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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. Forhope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Hello, folks. I have a question for you. Do you have this book in your shelf?  Are you waiting for an opportunity to pick it up? Or are you leaving it to rot away in your home in who knows where? because if you are, you are making a very big mistake.

The story continues from Kaoru’s decision to reunite with her supposed life after fragments of the truth had been revealed. In this second installment, Kaoru struggles with performing the job she has been given, gaining the trust of her people, and forgetting the electric connection that exists between her and Akiva.

Kaoru and Akiva are now enemies, as they should be, and she is determined to do everything it takes to support her people. But at what cost? Will there ever be an end to their war?

I can’t believe I’m saying this considering the dragging feeling I get whenever I read second installments,  but man, this series just gets better and better.

Everything starts to make sense: I was stalling during the first half because 517 pages, really? But everything started to make sense, and thanks to this, we now have the privilege of knowing how everything came to be, and why the battles do not cease despite years and years of insufferable aftermaths. Word of advice: Be patient in reading the first half, and you will be thoroughly rewarded

The action: This is what the first book lacked only because it was made as an introduction to everything else. So here, ladies and gentlemen, is where you’ll find planned and unplanned attacks, betrayal, setups, traps, and battle scenes. Oh, and did I mention swords and magic? You could not have been thinking hand-to-hand combat?

The tragedies: It’s not just the war. In the first book, I wasn’t quite sold to the Akiva-Kaoru romance, but after reading this book, my perspective has changed, and now here I am oh so wanting and hoping for a miraculous happy ending to take place.

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 Kaoru’s heart where there should have been only enmity and bitterness, came a slow pull of… longing. Rage rushed in and swamped it. Foul heart! She wanted to rip it out. How could she still not hate him? 

The twists: Laini Taylor, can I have a quarter of your brain? I think you’ll enjoy this book better if you read it without overthinking. There’s an incredible amount of brilliant orchestration that takes place, especially during the latter parts. You think your favorite character is one step ahead, but he’s not. You think the villain couldn’t get any worse, but oh you’ve got it all wrong.

Leftover thoughts

The battles are very detailed: A word of warning to those who are a little sensitive towards descriptive battle scenes, wounds, etc: if you dislike blood and gore, you are encouraged to utilize ultra fast visual scanning skills.

They were holding him down, two to a side. He was on his back in the ash, his arms wrenched wide, hands… secured. Jael had him pinned, each hand speared through by a sword from a solider he had killed.

Every kick jarred the blades, and the pain only began in his hands but didn’t end there. It got in his head; it possessed him. It was everything, and in the small moments between kicks, when he could keep still and let it abate, the fear came back – the fear of what he would do and say to make it stop.

If you are looking forward to a lot of romantic encounters: You won’t find them here.

The writing is still perfect. Damn it.

Good news: It was a-ma-zing.
Bad news: This raises the bar for the last book of the series. Let’s hope those 600 pages will bring this series to a satisfying close.
The verdict: Should you read this book? Hell yes.

Favorite Quotes from Days of Blood & Starlight

“It was brave,” countered Issa. “It was rare. It was love, and it was beautiful.”

“So,” he called to her back, “Just out of curiosity, you know, purely conversation and all, at what age will you be entertaining offers of marriage?”
“You think it’ll be so easy?” she called back over her shoulder. “No way. There will be tasks. Like in a fairy tale.”
“Sounds dangerous.”
“Very, so think twice.”
“No need,” he said. “You’re worth it.”

Mercy, she had discovered, made mad alchemy: a drop of it could dilute a lake of hate.

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.

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