on November 7, 2012
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?
on November 8, 2012
The saga of Karou continues and fans of DOSAB should enjoy this middle volume. The book mostly centers around hostilities between the chimaera and the seraphim, jumping from seraphim point of view and akiva to the chimaera point of view (Karou). The characters are developed well and given much more depth and dimension. But this book does have an dark edge to it that was not as prominent in DOSAB. There is a strong theme of pain, violence and loss that make this a rather bleak read in places. Fans of the Akiva-Karou romance will not find much of that here, but you can see Taylor carefully setting the stage for its eventual return in book 3, at least that's how I interpret things. Some may quibble with Karou's character, who has gone from the quirky, basically happy girl in DOSAB to a bitter, often angry, angst ridden woman in this book, but I liked it. I especially like how Akiva's character evolves in this book. My only negative is that this is maybe a 350 page story blown up into a 500 page book--Taylor does tend to let the purple prose go on too long sometimes.
on November 25, 2012
Hauntingly beautiful, filled with the heartbreak of impossible choices and the separation from those you love, Days of Blood & Starlight is the much darker sequel to Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Stunningly vivid prose that spoke of pain and desperation, a tension-filled atmosphere that teetered on the hopes of two souls deeply in love but eternally at war, and secrets powerful enough to permanently change the face of a thousand year war left me clinging to Days of Blood & Starlight's pages as I was pulled along at break-neck speeds on its suspenseful path of destruction.
Nothing like Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight had no room for blood-pumping romance or self-discovery. The absence of happiness was felt in every moment, leaving a bleakness that permeated each page. With delicate and simple prose, Taylor wove a tale of endless heartache with perfect pacing that was so achingly beautiful it hurt. Unlike many of her peers that shy away from the gritty details of how much is required of the protagonist in order to succeed, Taylor embraced the challenge. With the fate of the world at stake, Taylor truly allowed us to experience just how devastating the war had been for both sides, the disturbing choices that both sides had to make in order to weaken their enemies and the sacrifices demanded by everyone involved. At each turn, Taylor helped us to feel both the weight of Karou's duty to the Chimera and her guilt for her role in their demise.
Karou is unrecognizable, her vitality and zest for life replaced by an all-consuming shame for her involvement with Akiva. Having lost everything and everyone close to her in her life, she's a mere shell of the person she once was, resigned to work with the Chimera in an effort to undue the harms she feels she has caused. Using her own flesh for tithe, causing physical pain to temporarily obstruct her emotional hurt, she makes her way through this new world in a daze. Yet somehow, she remains as determined and strong as she was in Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Her feelings of duty to her people, and her need to perform penance were her motivators in the face of daily threats to her life, and isolation from those few people left with whom she held dear. I couldn't help but admire her courage, even during her weakest moments, especially when she was faced with the one who led to her unravelling - Akiva.
Akiva underwent such tremendous character development in Days of Blood & Starlight that I not only began to understand him, but I also started to respect him. While he coveted Karou from afar, he was mindful of how deeply he had betrayed her trust and was mostly respectful of keeping his distance. His determination to save Karou from further harm was why I found his actions so genuine - he wasn't helping Chimera and leading a revolution because he thought it would reunite him with Karou; he was doing those things because he realized how futile war - how meaningless cruelty and vengeance - were. It was nice to see him develop on his own, independently of Karou, rather than as an extension of her.
Dedicated to expanding the world we only caught mere glimpses of in Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight is a gorgeously crafted sequel that I would argue is even better than its predecessor.
on November 6, 2012
For all her life Karou wanted to know who and what she is, but those answers came with a steep price as they revealed shocking truths about her past. She was in love with the enemy and because of that her people payed the consequences. Now on opposite sides from her lover and unsure who to trust, Karou is trying to find her way in her strange new world. Paying penance for her past deeds, she's helping her people return one resurrection at a time as they prepare for the ultimate battle. Be it for revenge or salvation, only time will tell.
If it weren't for the uniquely lyrical prose I almost would have thought Days of Blood and Starlight was written by a different author. It just felt incredibly lackluster when compared to the first installment. In fact up until I reached the 40% mark I pretty much had to force myself to continue reading. Considering the fact that first book was all consuming for me, that was a startling change. This book was just so incredibly slow as the lyrical prose tipped over from magical to overwhelming. Also, the rotating perspectives only dragged things even further. I realize that the author was probably trying to expand the story past just Karou's perspective, but in all honesty I could have done without most of the rotations, especially as they all became rather overwhelming. A lot of my problem with that was that by the time I was able to get "sunk" into the current character, it would up and switch to another one, throwing me out of the book.
I can't help wondering where the awesome and amazing Karou that we met in Daughter of Smoke and Bone went. She is nothing like her old self in this book, and it really disappointed me. I do realize that she had her world turned upside down and felt the utter sting of betrayal from Akiva. But even so, that doesn't explain why she is a completely different person this time around. She's so much harder, as well as incredibly bitter. Karou's spark just seems to be gone, especially as she wallows in guilt and allows everyone to walk right over her. She really believes she deserves their treatments towards her, and for what? Because she fell in love? She wasn't the one to spill the secrets that brought on their destruction, but she still accepts their scorn and hatred as if she had. Making matters worse was the way she treated Akiva, each time destroying him a little more. The man was giving his heart and soul utterly and completely in hopes of redemption and yet she couldn't possibly show him any more scorn. It just took the beautiful romance from the first book and threw it out the window making my heart break for Akiva.
I realize that my mediocre feelings towards this book may very well place me in the minority, but in all honesty I'm just so frustrated with the vast change from the first installment, that I feel a large amount of disappointment with Days of Blood and Starlight. I really hope that this book's issues can be chalked up to a sophomoric slump as I would really like to see this series go out on as high of a note as it began. I will say that some of my issues with Karou's lack of a backbone did seem to slowly start a turn around by the end of the book, so hopefully that means the spark that drew me to her in the first place will make a shining return. That being said, and my frustrations aside, I don't regret reading Days of Blood and Starlight as it set things up for a potentially epic finish to the series.
on November 16, 2012
This, the second book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series was a very hard read to get through.
Most of the book was spent with Zuzanna searching for Karou; Karou wishing for the days when she was her former self from a previous life, and well...monster making. Lots of monster making.
For those of you that fell in love, (myself included) with the world that we were introduced to in Daughter of Smoke and Bone; will find that world quite masterfully obliterated this time around.
What we find in it's place is war, blood, pain, and loads of Romeo and Juliet angst action on the parts of Karou and Akiva.
While the back story on Akiva and the Misbegotten is very interesting at first, after the 300th time that we have to hear about it, it gets a little old. When we lost the characters that died in the first book, a lot of the flavor died as well. Come back??????!!!!!!
Even the war becomes overkill that leaves you wondering who or what will be left to rule by the time either side gets finished KILL, KILL, KILLING everyone in sight?
I mean really.
Do you have to kill EVERYBODY?????
There are a great many more issues that should be brought to light, but in the interest of not spoiling the read, will not.
This book is well written, however it seems to suffer from second book-itis. That is when the author throws everything but the kitchen sink into the second book while trying to focus on keeping the characters that readers fell in love with in the first book interesting.
Hint: The trick is to continue the journey that you started in the first book. Not to go so far off the path that your audience needs a GPS and a week to find you.
This review is a cross post from my blog and I was not compensated for it in any way. The opinions expressed herein are my own.
on April 12, 2013
The first 75% of this book dragged on for me to no end. Only the last 25% was worth reading. To me this sequel was a huge disappointment after the first book. Did not have remotely the same feel (nor feel like the same genre) of the first book.
"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living--one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers' arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.
"Once the lovers lay entwined in the moon's secret temple and dreamed of a world that was like a jewel box without a jewel--a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.
"This was not that world."
Daughter of Smoke and Bone enraptured me last year and its sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight, similarly captured my imagination and heart from the first page and would not relinquish it even to the last.
Days of Blood and Starlight is a successor epic in scope - Taylor admirably expands upon the wildly romantic Daughter and takes readers to the darker, war-ravaged world of the chimaera and seraphim. There is plenty of blood spilt in Days, but characters from the different sides begin to question what it is they're fighting for. War is depicted in all of its facets and perspectives, from Misbegotten angel soldiers, avenging rebels, to innocent refugees caught in the crosshairs.
Although war is at the forefront of this novel, its myriad characters' plights, seraphim and chimaera, as well as humans, give Days its stirring emotional depth. As in Daughter, I had some "Oh, no!" heart-wrenching moments with new and familiar faces. However, I was very glad that although Days leaves Prague behind, Zuzana and Mik appear in delightful scenes to balance the darkness of the rest of the book.
Mirroring the narrative shift of the trilogy, Karou also undergoes a similar transformation from naive teenage girl of the first book to a guilt and anger-ridden force within the Chimaera. She and Akiva, in their own separate narratives, undergo soul-searching and try to find their true purpose while still longing for each other. As the title promises, there is a bit of bittersweet Starlight in this sequel, all the more effective when juxtaposed with the brutality of the endless war.
Days of Blood and Starlight has everything I loved in Daughter of Smoke and Bone: amazingly imagined fantasy world; suspenseful plot; characters that won my heart and my avid hate, alike; and above all, exquisite writing.
on April 9, 2014
When I was in college, I had this incredibly obnoxious French professor. The woman made us—grown men and woman—sit in a circle and read (in French) basic sentences that would add up to nonsensical stories. Like we were in grade school. The first person would get a slip of paper with the equivalent of, “Jacques went to the door,” followed by something like, “Jacques picked up his keys,” and around we would go until someone got the slip of paper with a single, detested word written on it—Soudain!—at which point a cake would fall on Jacques’ head, or a monkey would jump on his back, etc. The next slip of paper was thankfully the last, saying, “Pauvre, Jacques,” at which time we were all required to make the accompanying sad face, the end. GAH. I hated that woman.
But the story is a good illustration. Jacques is going about his business, doing his thang, when SUDDENLY something completely inexplicable happens.
Kind of like this book.
Do NOT misunderstand me, I love this book, I love this series, but this installment . . . didn’t flow as well as Daughter of Smoke & Bone. In Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I was almost instantly captivated, and nothing else existed until after that last page. In Days of Blood & Starlight, my very first thought was, “how juvenile.” I am of course referring to Zuzana’s determination to fling a urine-filled balloon at Kaz, and yes, I know that using scuppies to give Kaz a cranny-itch in book 1 is not the height of maturity, but it . . . I don’t know . . . wasn’t as distracting. It blended in with the overall picture, whereas this time it stood out like a 15 y.o. boy with his butt hanging out of a car window.
But all of the things that I loved about book 1 are still present here. The forbidden love that isn’t just one more idiotic version of Romeo and Juliet, but something new and wondrous. The sense that something EPIC is going to happen any moment. The FEELS that directly connect you to the characters so that you’re desperate to know the outcome, desperate for Karou and Akiva to somehow get their HEA, desperate for this ridiculous war to finally, FINALLY end.
Plus now there’s Mik. Zuzana is, by herself, plenty of fun and hilarity, but Mik provides a sometimes droll, sometimes earnest, sometimes insightful counterpoint to her shenanigans. And Mik is necessary now that Karou’s memories have been awakened. She’s no longer a 17 y.o. art student in Prague with nothing more worrisome than whether or not Kaz will be at Poison Cafe on her mind. She performs an essential function in a war against an enemy hell-bent on the annihilation and enslavement of her race. So without Mik, Zuzana would flounder. Instead, the two of them make you wistful for first loves, and provide distraction from Karou’s harsh new reality.
It’s a nice touch, I think.
And now we get down to the last 10-15% of the book—the SOUDAIN! portion of this program. Just a few vague and ambiguous, non-spoilery statements, and then I’ll drop it. Promise.
1. It’s told in reverse order which is confusing as hell.
2. The extreme level of revulsion exhibited by both pertinent parties is a little bit OTT (over the top, people, OTT!). On the one hand, it lends credulity to the charade. On the other hand, it’s borderline unbelievably OTT.
3. The only thing that keeps this whole situation from being completely preposterous, is that Karou is unable to resurrect the person she’s unable to resurrect.
In hindsight, I’m wondering if that was why said person was killed in the first place . . . hmmm . . .
So yeah, there were a few issues, but overall, this is a highly satisfactory sequel. And by “satisfactory,” I mean AMAZEBALLS. If you’ve been putting off reading this series b/c of the cliffhanger endings, stop that nonsense, and stop it now! Dreams of Gods & Monsters came out yesterday! The wait is over. Get ‘er done, peeps! This series is an fantasy/UF crossover that is so good, I recommend reading at least the first book to EVERYONE. So. Go forth and read! If not this, than something else. Who cares? Just read!
on August 15, 2014
I went the audiobook route with the second in this series because I adored the first audiobook. I find that the narrator spins magic with Taylor’s words and she can paint a beautiful image of all those in Karou’s world. I found this one even more heat breaking than the first as the two worlds plunged into war.
I think what made me most sad was that Karou and Akiva were still at odds the way they were at the end of the first book. There is so much more to their lives that we have yet to learn, but this book did a great job of opening up into what the war looked like for both sides. It gave us a glimpse at what the problem was, at who was continuing this battle that seemed to have to no start. Its almost like Romeo and Juliet the way no one knows what started to feud between the different sides.
I think that it was great that we learned more about the different Chimera and the way that they lived and loved. There was no sense to what was happening to villagers as we learned how the battle between the Angels and Chimera was affecting all.
But even better was that we continued to follow Akiva as he went to try to set things straight. He made decisions that were punishable by death, but we learned that he wasn’t alone in his feelings as he joined other’s who felt the same way. This book broke your heart in ways that you didn’t even know it could be broken.
I loved that we got to see both sides from Karou and Akiva. We saw the underlying cruelty of both sides and we saw the kindness and the hope. I cannot wait for the third book to hit shelves so I can see where this is all going to end.
on April 30, 2016
Of course, we would never…
Because we’ve always been told not to. Certainly <i>I<i/> would never…
Judge a book by its cover? But it’s not judging if it’s obvious. Right? Because just look at these covers.
Obviously The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is for girls. It’s nothing but a kissing book.
Sorry, not interested.
Luckily for me I have friends who enjoy shaming me into submission, who swore it wasn’t a kissing book—that it was actually so much more. My lack of interest evolved into curiosity, and my curiosity cannot be denied.
So, I picked up The Daughter of Smoke and Bone and read it. Then I read Days of Blood and Starlight. Then I read Dreams of God and Monsters. And guess what I found?
I was right. It is totally a kissing book.
But I was wrong too. There’s a really cool story mixed in with all the brooding, drama, angst and kissing. War. Fighting. Underdogs. Oppression. Heroes that rise up. Bad guys to bring down. Weak-but-strong good guys. Strong-but-weak bad guys. There are characters you want to love and characters you love to hate.
The writing is outstanding, very visual. I could see everything. The characters are tangible. The plot pulls you along. With out a doubt, there was way more killing than kissing.
That’s how this guy became a fan of these girly kissing books.
And…I suppose the kissing wasn’t so bad.
Content advisory: No language at all, but there is some PG-13 sexual content. All implied. Never physical, but lots and Lots and LOTS of gooey, mushy, girly LONGING and WANTING and BROODING and ACHING and PINING and LANGUISHING and…