About a year ago, I read a book which was simply stunning in its style, story and imagination. Since then I have been eagerly awaiting the sequel, and so it was with a lot of anticipation that I began reading Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, the second novel in the trilogy begun by the superb Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
The first novel introduced us to Karou, and the double life she lived in the human world and the world of the chimaera, creatures of many different forms who are traditionally demons. Then she met an angel, and her world turned upside down and fell to pieces. Daughter of Smoke and Bone ended with some major revelations, and left the reader desperate to find out what would happen to Karou and Akiva, her angel, and all the other characters, chimaera, angels and humans.
Days of Blood and Starlight builds on those revelations, advancing the story while answering some of the questions left from Daughter of Smoke and Bone – but not all of them. There are more flashbacks, we get to know other characters better, and there are more elements of the world of the chimaera and angels built into the story. Daughter of Smoke and Bone barely scratched the surface – in Days of Blood and Starlight, Taylor takes us deep into Eretz and reveals more of the way of life of different chimaera tribes, and of the different mindsets of angels.
In terms of story and the fantasy world Taylor has created, Days of Blood and Starlight makes the trilogy’s opener look positively simple, which is absolutely was not. You do need to pay attention to what is going on; while it couldn’t be described as a heavy or difficult read, Days of Blood and Starlight certainly isn’t light. It is packed full with detail, Taylor having created not only creatures and the world they inhabit, but the full history of those peoples and their world as well.
On a related note, Days of Blood and Starlight is very much a continuation of Daughter of Smoke and Bone – you would be completely lost if you picked it up without having read the first novel. Indeed, I rather wish I had re-read Daughter of Smoke and Bone before reading its sequel; the opening novel had been absolutely packed full of story and background information, and I had forgotten some of it. Days of Blood and Starlight does not provide a convenient summary of what has already happened – events are only recounted when they are directly relevant to what is happening, and even then it may only be a sentence as a character reflects on what brought them to where they are now.
Good and evil are still mixed up and unclear in Days of Blood and Starlight. Not all angels are good, and most chimaera are not evil. There are characters you just love to hate on both sides, real bad guys who are both completely loathsome. But then both sides have good guys too; if I had to pick I’d probably say that the angels were the bad guys overall, but that isn’t fair to Akiva and others, particularly given just how unpleasant Thiago is, the chimaera bad guy.
Again the ending of the novel is unexpected, shocking, revelatory and a huge cliffhanger. There is no way I could have predicted the way things stand at the end of Days of Blood and Starlight. There is good news and bad news; there is good news that seems like bad news; there are still unanswered questions – one of my biggest questions has not been answered to my satisfaction, although perhaps I am clinging to hope uselessly.
So now I have to start waiting again for book three. Days of Blood and Starlight continued flawlessly from Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and proved that Laini Taylor is by no means a one-hit-wonder. The only negative is that it is only part of a trilogy, and with the next book it will be over.
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Published by Hodder & Stoughton, November 2012
Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for providing a review copy.
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