Days of Blood & Starlight: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Book Two
Laini Taylor continues the epic tale of angels and monsters begun in DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE with DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT, an equally ambitious and wide-ranging fantasy.
Laini Taylor's DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE introduced readers to a complex and compelling fantasy world populated by angels and demons. This might seem like a simplistic dichotomy, one more suited for a children's fairy tale than for a massive YA trilogy. Taylor's world is more complicated than that, though --- the angels are powerful and vindictive and the so-called demons (or monsters, or chimera) are vulnerable and frequently victimized.
"DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT moves forward at a fever pitch, bouncing around between characters, settings and even between worlds as the plot charges energetically onward."
DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT opens in the wake of a brutal confrontation between these two groups, one that has left our heroine, Karou, in exile and bereft of her friends and her adopted family; these include her human friends Zuzana and Mik, left behind in Prague and wondering where she is and even whether she's alive, and her motley "family" of chimeras who adopted her, many of whom are now dead. These include Karou's mentor and father figure Brimstone, the legendary Resurrectionist who brought Karou back to life once before. But Brimstone himself is now gone, and Karou is trying her own hand at resurrection, with mixed (and sometimes dangerous) results.
Meanwhile, in the land of Eretz, a war of sorts still rages, as chimeras find themselves pursued and hunted by the ruthless seraphim who roam the countryside. The angels' attacks are cruel and often seemingly random; worst of all, the chimeras --- many of whom are inherently peaceful creatures --- are often totally unable to defend themselves. Can the new chimeras Karou is creating help bolster the monsters' defenses? And what about Akiva, Karou's estranged lover who also happens to be a seraphim himself? Where do these two fit into the conflict raging around them? Is their love once again doomed to separation, conflict, and outright war? Perhaps what both Karou and Akiva --- as well as the warring factions they represent --- need is a common enemy that they can confront together.
Although Taylor does provide enough context clues to keep readers who haven't read the first volume in the trilogy from becoming completely lost, it's worth noting that the series is best read from the beginning, not only to enhance understanding but also because it's worth spending more time in the richly imagined worlds Taylor has created here.
DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT moves forward at a fever pitch, bouncing around between characters, settings and even between worlds as the plot charges energetically onward. Taylor plays a great deal with tone, often assuming the elevated tone of high fantasy only to alternate it with more concrete language of contemporary realistic fiction. Contrary to the bleak landscape she paints, Taylor even includes a fair amount of humor, particularly in the form of Mik and Zuzana's interactions, but also in Karou's own reflections on her life and fate. This relentless forward momentum --- not to mention the suspense-filled closing --- certainly means that readers will be eagerly looking forward to the final volume in Taylor's trilogy.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on October 31, 2012