Book Review: Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor


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Title: Days of Blood & Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (February 25, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316133981
ISBN-13: 978-0316133982
Amazon Review: 4.6/5 stars

Book blurb as seen on Amazon.com:

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?

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Dear Ms. Taylor,
I do believe I am in love with you. Not love-love. I mean, you’re a woman and I’m a woman and we’re both straight, so, you know. And not stalker crazy-love either. Oh, no. I won’t be lying in wait outside your writing retreat to snap pictures of your lovely pink hair. I am most specifically talking about your writing. Yes, Daughter of Smoke & Bone was exceptional, and I began to feel my passion for your writing then, but it was this. This novel. Days of Blood & Starlight, that has cemented my undying affection . . .

Wait a second. This is supposed to be a book review, not a love letter to Laini Taylor. Sorry about that. Back on track!

As I’m sure you can surmise, I loved this book. Taylor has restored my wavering faith in YA authors. I know. I know. Ye of little faith. I didn’t really think that ALL YA authors needed to be sent to writing camp, but I have had a string of disappointments lately. And she’s given me a serious inferiority complex. My confidence in submitting my own novel has been sorely tested.

So I guess I’ll start off with the only thing that bothered me. Get it out of the way so I can gush about the good things later. I noticed this in Daughter of Smoke & Bone (you can read my review here) but It was sort of in the back of mind. It was brought to the fore front in this novel and here’s my issue. On several occasions in both the first and second books, Taylor describes the Chimaera as prizing a human aspect as beautiful. Maybe I missed something, and many Chimaera wanted to be their beastly selves (I say beastly with the utmost respect), but I found it strange that a people as varied as the Chimaera would see one aspect as more beautiful than all the rest. Wouldn’t cat-like Chimaera prize a feline face, and bird-like Chimaera want amazing feathers, and those with typical human aspects would like to see a human face. It bothered me that our (I mean human) prejudices would be placed on a people that would most likely appreciate that which was usual to them. I might be reading more into, but that was my one little problem through the whole book.

Now what did I like? Well, EVERYTHING! I love Taylor’s descriptive writing style. How she can describe a person, place, thing, emotion with prose that sings. Her words have the effect of making me forget I am reading a novel. And that is the one best thing an author can do for me. As I read, I forget I’m reading, and I’m just there. In the story. I see what Karou sees and feel what she feels. I understand Akiva’s pain and Liraz’s misgivings and when certain characters die, well, my emotional turmoil is pretty real.

Taylor also has a beautiful gift to see people. Really see them. She creates characters who are full and complete, with strengths and weaknesses. Real weaknesses too. Not just, they have a hot temper. No, these characters have thoughts and ideas and prejudices. They learn from mistakes, and sometimes they don’t. Their detailed pasts color their future and define their actions and Taylor lets us see it all. Even when someone does something we don’t like, we understand why. I was completely intrigued with the personalities and motivations of some of the side characters. Especially Liraz, a character who I started out disliking, but now am intensely interested to see where her story takes her.

There was a rape scene, and I won’t say much because I don’t want to be a spoiler, but it was hard to read. It was still YA appropriate, but it was difficult to see this character go through the ordeal she experienced, though Taylor handled it well. It was brutal. It was awful. And there was nothing remotely romantic about it. That’s how stuff like that should be portrayed, not the crap romance novels pass off as forbidden love. Rape is nasty in all circumstances.

And when Days of Blood & Starlight began, I didn’t see how Karou could ever forgive Akiva for what he had done. No matter what his reason, or thoughts, or motivation, what he did could never be undone. The deaths of so many people she loved was not something that can be gotten over. I still wasn’t convinced these star-crossed lovers would have a happy ending by the end of the second book, but at least I saw a path forward. And I don’t always need a blissfully happy ending. I just need a resolution. Sometimes those are happy, but mostly they just need to be realistic and believable. Taylor brought you along on Karou’s emotional journey, and boy was it a roller-coaster, and you were there with her and the possibilities of a future.

So, in closing, I loved it. I don’t know if it has awakened my enjoyment for fantasy, something I don’t read a lot, or if it’s just Taylor’s books I love, but I’m open to possibilities. I’ve actually already read Dreams of Gods & Monsters before I wrote this, so it was hard not to let that bleed in, but that review will be next.

My Review: 4.5/5


Buy Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Book 1) on Amazon.com
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Buy Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Book 3) on Amazon.com
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Book review – Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor


Buy Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Book 1) on Amazon.com
Add on Goodreads

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (June 5, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031613399X
ISBN-13: 978-0316133999
Amazon Review: 4.5/5 stars

Book blurb as seen on Amazon.com:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

 

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

 

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

 

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

 

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

I borrowed this book from my local library

All right, this is going to be short and sweet. Maybe. I loved this book. I’m giving it a solid 4. It would get a 5, but I don’t actually read a lot of Fantasy, so it’s not entirely my thing, and there was one minor problem I had that I’ll get to later. Still, a 4 from me is high praise.

Sometimes you come across a book where the writing is so good you want to jot down all the nice little lines you find and share them with your blog readers. That was not this book. There were so many lines I couldn’t write them all down. I couldn’t take the time to analyze why Taylor is a good writer because I was so caught up in the beautiful prose and the amazing story that to dissect writing style would have been blasphemous. I had to just keep reading. Someday I may go back and read more critically, but this is the sort of book that makes me ecstatic I’m a book worm, and makes me want to keep at this writing thing. I was lost in the story, and that’s the way it should be.

I was a little concerned about the angel angle. I’ve read a few “angel books”, and I know there are a few hundred more out there because I pin them to my YA Books board on Pinterest all the time. So I’m a little sick of seeing them. Though I haven’t read them all, I felt like this was a somewhat fresh take on that angle. Now, I’m still a little tired of angels, but I’ll let it slide for this series. Bring them on!

My only problem was that sometimes there was too much to remember, imagine, understand. But that is more me than Taylor’s writing. Like I said, I don’t read a lot of Fantasy, though that may change, so my imagination muscles need to flex in this arena a bit more. The characters were so strange and fantastical it was sometimes difficult to fully realize them in my own mind. That’s on me, not Taylor, because she gave me the tools to work with, but I was just to caught up in the story. When I read it again, I’ll be able to take the time to draw a mental picture more thoroughly.

So basically, if you like Fantasy READ THIS! If you are on the fence about Fantasy, read it anyway, because it’s still grounded in reality. If you don’t like Fantasy, well, read it anyway. This might change your mind. I can’t wait to read the next books in the series, though I may force myself to wait since I have so many others stacked up. Or maybe not. We’ll see! :)-

My Review: 4/5 stars