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Days of Blood & Starlight

Days of Blood & Starlight - Laini Taylor "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" was one of the most beautiful, moving, and memorable books I've read in a long time. I could not wait for the sequel, and I'm so happy that "Days of Blood and Starlight" meets the high expectations that Taylor set for her readers. I suspect that most people purchasing this book have already read "Daughter," but if you have not, please do yourself a favor and read it before delving into "Days."

Karou's peaceful life was ripped away in "Daughter," and she is forever changed; she's tougher, and she's understandably vengeful. She takes up Brimstone's old role and sets about building an army with the help of a very unlikely ally. She's full of guilt and remorse over her past reactions, and she's unsure whom she can trust. Akiva, meanwhile, is cast on the opposing end from Karou, and he's desperate for her forgiveness. The chimaera and the angels are both led by ruthless leaders who are willing to risk decimating their own populations to achieve their goals. As in any war, some soldiers question its justification; most simply follow orders while a brave few are willing to defy their leaders. I do wish both leaders weren't so mustache-twirlingly awful. If either one had motives that weren't completely Hitler-esque evil, the stakes would have been raised on both sides as the soldiers who were brave enough to take a stand would not have been so clearly in the right.

This story is much darker than the first. It's filled with death, war, heartbreak, and a heavy sense of hopelessness. Occasional relief is provided by Karou's best friend, Zusana, when the story returns to Prague and Zusana's unique and humorous observations. Fortunately, Zusana does not sit on the sidelines for long.

It's hard for me to think of another author who paints such an incredibly imaginative world as Taylor, all while drawing out boomeranging emotions from the reader. As for the ending...well, you will have to see for yourself! And I will now start the countdown to book number 3.