WARNING: This review contains unavoidable spoilers for the first book in the series, Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Proceed with caution.
Karou is nowhere to be found, angels are being slaughtered in unheard numbers, but Akiva returns to Eretz the unsuspecting hero he left it. What he feels however is quite the opposite: his vengeance spent, grief and shame fill his being, leaving a sliver of purpose behind. Just because the emperor will stop at nothing to see the chimera exterminated doesn’t mean he cannot find small ways of secretly saving civilian chimera, making peace in the only ways he can, whilst not quitting his search for Karou.
Karou has gone into hiding in what she calls a land of dust and starlight. The vengeance on her mind conflicts with the memories of her time as an angel-lover and her dream of peace. It should be a consolation that she is finally back with her people, where she should belong, stealing teeth for the chimera cause. But as Akiva seeks redemption, Karou helps build an army, and to what end? Is there hope for either side?
After several attempts at reviewing Days of Blood & Starlight, Laini Taylor’s follow-up to Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I suspect I will not add anything new to the dialogue. What I like to get away from most, as I do in all reviews of series books, is from comparing series books against each other. What I must say in this vein though is how different Days of Blood & Starlight was from my expectations, which weren’t clearly defined anyway after the dramatic and twisted cliffhanger ending of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, which turned the world and the romance on its head. Now that I consider it I don’t know where Laini could go from where she left the story. With Karou and Akiva’s relationship in the state that it is – Akiva responsible for the genocide of her people – her hands are tied against any reconciliation. In retrospect it’s easy to see that respectful to Karou’s plight, the plot possibilities are myriad. Fresh off the pain of losing her only family courtesy of her former lover, she has the drive and the teeth-gathering skills that her people, the chimera, desperately need to turn the tide on the war. What I love most about her character is that she begins the novel a changed Karou – disillusioned and defeated – yet ends the novel with a new-found belief and resolution for change. Maybe it’s not for her personal life, but it’s enough for now that she can see an end to the centuries-old angel-chimera conflict. Surprisingly though, Akiva may be more interesting here. His back story as a bred-to-kill Misbegotten angel is fleshed-out as he steps on the long road to mercy and redemption. Clearly the drastic turn-of-events at the close of Daughter of Smoke & Bone had a profound effect on both Karou and Akiva, which Laini takes full advantage of in Days of Blood & Starlight. Their growth is the highlight of what is for the most part a bleak second book about the brutalities of war and the tolls its taken on generations of chimera and angels raised to hate each other without reason or end. Appropriately, the language is more quiet and subdued and less lyrical than it’s more romantic-driven predecessor but there are still many beautiful lines. I was happy to spend more time with Zusana, Karou’s best friend from Prague, and to meet Ziri, the last chimera of Karou’s tribe and a potential love interest. While the pacing wasn’t always smooth for a 500+ page book, the characterization compensated for any lulls in my attention. The expected but unforeseen plot twists at the conclusion of Days of Blood & Starlight have left me clamoring for more of conflicted Karou and complex Akiva. I hope hope hope we’ll get the conclusion sometime later this year.
Dear Author review – “I thought Days of Blood and Starlight was an excellent follow-up to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. In some ways, I think it’s a stronger book.”
Fantasy Cafe review – “Days of Blood & Starlight is a wonderful (even if rather emotionally harrowing) continuation of the story begun in Daughter of Smoke and Bone.”
Giraffe Days review – “It’s the story as a whole that I love, with all its component pieces. Each piece is a gem, but put them together and you have a crown.”
The Midnight Garden review – “It ends, as Daughter of Smoke and Bone did, with a bittersweet kind of hope. And leaves me … absolutely entranced, and counting the days until the next book is released.”
The Readventurer review – “[It] may be not as quirky and charming as its goulash- and skuppy mischief-filled predecessor, but it’s a novel that encourages you to contemplate the consequences of war for both winners and losers and futility of revenge.”