Laini Taylor – Days of Blood & Starlight
Read my review of book:
1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Read By: Khristine Hvam
Length: 15h 30m (517 pages)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Started: 19 December 2012
Finished: 28 December 2012
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I was totally captivated by the first book and wanted more!
An eye for an eye
makes the whole world blind, even
monsters and angels.
Summary: Once upon a time, an angel and a monster fell in love, and dared to dream of a world without endless war. But death separated them, and even after resurrection, circumstances and the realities of wartime are conspiring to keep them apart. Karou, furious at Akiva for what happened to Brimstone, has taken up the fight in the way only she can. She has taken the Chimera forces through the portal into the human world, and Karou is working as their resurrectionist, bringing Chimera souls into new bodies using the knowledge she gleaned from growing up at Brimstone’s side. But she’s not happy with the arrangement; she doesn’t trust Thiago or like his methods – he was the one who originally had her executed, after all – and it’s clear that he doesn’t entirely trust her. On the other side of the portal, back in Eretz, Akiva has returned to the Seraph army, to the legion of the Emperor’s bastards, but despite his heartbreak over Karou, he’s lost whatever taste he ever had for killing Chimera – particularly the campaign of terror and slaughtering civilians that the Emperor has ordered. Both Akiva and Karou are doing what they can, but in the darkness of endless violence and retribution, the dream of peace may be impossible to hold on to.
Review: This book was just amazing. Beautiful and heartbreaking and original and compelling and creative and poignant and mature and lyrical and just wonderful. To start with, Taylor’s worldbuilding is just incredible, subtly done but very immersive, and the world that she builds is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered before. For much of Daughter of Smoke and Bone I was a little confused, because so many of the elements Taylor uses are unfamiliar. (I mean, a girl with blue hair who collects teeth for monsters who live behind a magical doorway in Prague?) But by the end of that book, everything had come together in a way that made sense, and in this book I didn’t even stop to question it. Of course there are monsters and angels and resurrection and portals between worlds. And Taylor continues to expand the borders of her worlds, filling in more details about life in Eretz and Madrigal’s past and the process of resurrection, all so seamlessly that you hardly notice it’s going on.
Or maybe I just didn’t notice the worldbuilding because I was too wrapped up in the story. Another thing I love about this book (this series, really) is that it looks, and somewhat sounds, like a typical YA paranormal romance: human teenage girl falls for an angel with a troubled past. But that’s not what it is. I mean, there is the romance element to the story, but it’s not your typical “girl meets supernatural boy” story, and it’s only one element among many. In this book especially, the romance took a backseat to the main plot, especially since Karou and Akiva were only rarely in the same place at the same time. The story itself focused much more on war, and how violence breeds more violence, and where the line is between patriotism and blind obedience, between the demands of loyalty and morality. It’s weighty stuff, and Taylor handles it deftly. Her writing in general is just beautiful, lots of lyricism and imagery without losing the authenticity of the voice of her characters.
Was there anything about this book I didn’t like? I did think it could have been a little bit shorter, a bit tightened up through the middle, although I never lost interest and stayed totally engaged throughout. The only other thing is: Ugh, Zusanna. I don’t know if it’s the way she’s written or the way she’s read (although I’d say that in general Kristine Hvam does an excellent job with the narration), but ye gods I find her obnoxious. But otherwise, the worst thing about this book is that it’s over, and now I have to wait for the third one! 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: This book picks up not long after Daughter of Smoke and Bone leaves off, and it is not by any stretch of the imagination a stand-alone. But I highly, highly recommend the whole series for folks who are tired of the same old YA fantasy.
First Line: Prague, early May.
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