Days of Blood and Starlight

At the beginning of 2012 I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone and was struck by the ingenuity of Laini Taylor’s creation. Her world was like no other I had encountered filled with beautifully defined detail and a more bitter than sweet romance. So I was rather thrilled to hear the sequel was out. Days of Blood and Starlight follows straight on from the previous book.

Karou, the blue haired human re-incarnation of Madrigal, a chimaera, executed for treason and loving an angel. Akiva, one of the Misbegotten, an angel sired by the Emperor in order to bulk up his army. Their fleeting love affair and tragic ending. And then an impossible chance encounter. And when Karou finds out that Akiva had destroyed her world and her people in his grief and despair, she finds she cannot forgive him. For the angels are back and trying to erase the last of the chimaera including all the family she has left. And so starts the next chapter in the trilogy.

There are only a handful of the chimaera left and Karou has made the decision to help them by using her skills as a resurrectionist. For the chimaera can die, but as long as their souls are collected in a thurible, Karou can construct a body and resurrect them by manipulating pain and using collected teeth. But wrapped in her grief, she is unable to see the treacherous manipulations of the White Wolf, the violent and dangerous leader of the chimaera, who will stop at nothing to decimate the angels and create a world in which ulitmate power will be his. And he hasn’t forgiven Karou for choosing Akiva over him either. As both Karou and Akiva strive to come to terms with their actions and choices, will they find each other again? And will they be able to change their world into a better place?

I don’t want to give too much away. I don’t know what it is about the current crop of sequels but I actually enjoyed this more than the first book. There was a lot more anguish and a seething violence that sent my heart thudding all over the place. I was glued to the book, wanting to know what will happen next but also not wanting to know if anything bad happens.

I love Taylor’s world building. The way she shows the singled-minded angels as killing machines in a cold, heartless world. The chimaera with their sleek and animalistic natures. And Karou, so worn out and yet hoping against hope. So much happens in this volume, so many twists and turns that I couldn’t put it down until the very end. And now I can’t wait for the next one.

A bit thank you to Hodder & Stoughton who kindly sent me a copy to review.

There was a huge buzz a while back about Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and although I didn’t jump on it, I suggested it to a friend of mine since she was looking for a good book to read and enjoyed all my recs (see, I have very appreciative friends!) I did say to her that I hadn’t read the book but she went ahead and bought it anyway. And she texted me to let me know that it was amazing and when next I saw her for a spot of lunch, she’d brought her copy along for me to read. I love my friends.

I have to admit I’m feeling a bit of angel saturation at the moment and put off reading this book while I finished the books on my bedside. And when I started Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I have to admit I wasn’t sure but as I kept on reading, the novel slowly charmed me. The teenage protagonist, Karou, annoyed me a little because…well, because she’s a teenager and I’m no longer one. But Laini Taylor’s setting, Prague instead of the usual London, Paris or New York, quickly set the tone for the unusual premise of this novel. And it’s like no other I’ve read in recent years.

Karou has blue hair, studies at art school and works part-time for Brimstone, a creature from Elsewhere who lives in a hidden house with doors that open anywhere in the world, in exchange for little wishes. She sports many tattoos of which the two eyes in her palm are the strangest and were given to her as a baby when she was looked after by Brimstone and his strange friends who deal in teeth.
When tragedy strikes and Karou loses access to her family, she must use her arcane knowledge to try and find them again. And in the shadows is a seraphim burning with vengeance who has set his eyes upon her.

OK, I’m not going to go on about the plot here because I think you should read it plus it’s the first in a trilogy featuring Karou, a teenager who is not quite human. I enjoyed the world building, the strange creatures that inhabit this tale and the 1,000 year war between the seraphim and the chimaera. And I particularly liked Brimstone. The angels here are scary and made me want to read Milton’s Paradise Lost. Taylor’s imagery is beautiful and she conjures up a world rich in detail.

And although this is a YA novel (and there’s nothing wrong with that), I enjoyed reading about the different relationships without feeling that they were oversimplified.

So, I’m really looking forward to the next installment. Have you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone? What did you think of it?