Book Review: Days of Blood and Starlight

ad103-daysofbloodandstarlightDays of Blood and Starlight
by Laini Taylor
Published by: Little, Brown and Company
Form: Purchased Hardback
Big Themes: War, Terrorism, Peace, Death, Reincarnation, Angels, Chimaera, Leadership, Choices, Love, Friendship, Trust

My Review of Book 1: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

*This is a spoiler-free review.

Summary:
After learning who she is and what has happened to those she loved, Karou must make difficult choices regarding who she can trust and who to ally with.  The world of angels and chimaera is further revealed in this sequel and we see the deep hatred and animosity that have torn their world apart.  Will Karou abandon her dreams of peace or will she live up to her name and bring hope to a ravaged land?

7f5e8-sealofapprovalRecipient of the Hughes Reviews Seal of Approval
This award only goes to those books that I see as perfect works of genius.  The kinds of books that leave me speechless.  Recipients demonstrate exceptional creativity, gripping storytelling, memorable characters, grand world-building, beautiful writing, and make a positive contribution to children’s and young adult literature.

What I Loved:
Consistent Characters– I adore so many of the characters in this series.  Even the villains are masterfully crafted and easily loathable.  But what really makes me satisfied and happy with this second book of the series is that the characters are consistent.  It’s clear that Laini Taylor did enormous behind-the-scenes planning on what each individual character wants as well as what they fear.  These wants and fears dictate their actions as well as allow readers a deep sense of empathy and understanding of that character’s core.  This really stands out to me because I’ve read other 2nd and 3rd books in a series and been confused by characters’ actions.  I’ll feel as if I don’t know that character anymore.  With one particular book that I won’t name here, the author suggested that the reason her protagonist was making bad choices and behaving strangely was because she’d just lost people she loved.  Well, Karou lost everyone she loved as well.  And I understood every choice she made and she still felt like the same Karou from book one.  I attribute that to Taylor’s skill as a writer.  Bravo for consistent characters!

Every Scene is Purposeful– This is a chunky book, which could lead people to assume that the writer doesn’t know how to edit and cut out unnecessary bits.  But Taylor doesn’t have that problem.  When you look back on the novel as a whole, you realize how each scene contributed to the overall whole.  Whether it was a character insight or development of theme or an important plot point.  Such purposeful writing is the kind of thing that leaves me in awe.  It also leaves me with confidence that book three will be a satisfying and beautiful conclusion to the series.

Unexpected Twists– There were so many things that I didn’t see coming.  However, these twists aren’t just the author throwing things out and saying, “Ha! Bet you didn’t see that one coming!”  Instead, Taylor is a master of subtle foreshadowing and building overwhelming obstacles.  Once something happens, you see that it HAD TO HAPPEN that way.  Even if it is horrible, you know that it was unavoidable.  Every twist is foreshadowed or built to in some way.

Big Themes– I love when fantasy tackles big themes that readers can take away and apply to the real world.  One of the big themes of this book is terrorism.  Violence for the sake of revenge and instilling fear.  Another is forgiveness and trust.  Can you forgive someone who has betrayed you?  Can they still be someone you can trust?  So many good discussion topics could come out of this book!

Gorgeous Writing– This is just my expectation for Laini Taylor at this point.  All her writing is stunning.  Her imagery and word choice show that she is a master of the craft.  Below are a few sentences that I hope you will find as stunning as I do:

“Night came and the caravan made camp, posted guards.  The dark was pocked by small sounds: a scurry, a snap.  The guards’ hands were hot on their hilts; their blood jumped, eyes darted.” (Pg 72)
“In the cycle of slaughter, reprisal begat reprisal, forever.” (Pg 76)
“And in the highest reaches, ice formations looked like crystal cities from a distance, but proved desolate wind mazes up close.” (Pg 127)

Overall Rating:
Five big beautiful stars and a spot on my favorite list.  It is rare that I have total confidence in the author to finish a series when I’m only on the second book of a trilogy.  I have total confidence that Laini Taylor will have a perfect third and final book, and I can’t wait to see how she pulls the whole thing together.

Content Warning:
Due to violence and sexual content, I would recommend this series to ages 14 and up.

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