BOOK REVIEW: Days Of Blood And Starlight

Days Of Blood and StarlightDays of Blood and Starlight, by Laini Taylor, (pub. Hodder), ISBN 9781444722673

Days of Blood and Starlight is the sequel to the wonderful Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor.  It is a direct continuation of the story of mysterious teenager Karou and her role in the war between the chimaera and seraphim, but tonally this is a very different type of tale. Whilst the first book was dark in places, it was also had a dream-like whimsy and a romantic centre which is missing from the sequel.  This book deals with loss of innocence and the search for hope in a seemingly hopeless situation.

 

 

Following on from the devastating revelations at the end of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou is missing.  Rebellious seraphim Akiva is desperately searching for her, as are her human friends Zuzana and Mik.  Meanwhile, the long-running war in the magical world of Eretz seems to have finally come to end with the seraphim victorious.  However, the chimaera may not be as thoroughly defeated as their enemies suppose.  This book focuses on the impact of this conflict, which has descended into acts of senseless violence on both sides with the innocent caught in the middle.

Rather frustratingly, after the intriguing set-up of the first book and (presumably) leading up to an epic finale in the third, we are left with a book where not all that much actually happens.  The characters seem to spend a lot time adjusting to their new understanding of the world and trying to figure out what the ‘right’ thing to do next is.  It’s a story of hard truths and hard choices, stuck in a quagmire of doubt.  The relentless bleakness of the situation, along with all the soul-searching can make for a bit of a slog in places, but there is plenty of tension for the protagonists, caught between the two sides in an increasingly violent and unpredictable situation.  We are also given not one, but two delightfully boo-hissable villains to add to the threat.

The romantic aspect which initially threatened to swamp Daughter of Smoke and Bones is largely absent here in favour of more pressing concerns.  I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers for those who have not yet read her first book, but you’ll be glad to know she has the restraint to strike the right balance and avoid melodrama.  Moments of humour and warmth in this book are most often provided by Karou’s friend, the sparky Zuzana and her devoted boyfriend Mik.  Since becoming aware of Karou’s secret at the end of the previous volume they are given a greater role in the story and provide a much-needed human perspective on all the other-worldly goings-on.  This leads to some charmingly quirky moments when the everyday world meets the weird and wonderful.  Although magic plays a large part of the world she has created, Laini Taylor never cheapens it by making it an easy solution to the problems at hand.  She’s too good a story-teller to fall into that trap.

While never quite reaching the heights of its predecessor, Days of Blood and Starlight is a solid follow-up.  The quality of writing is consistently good, the characters are well realised and the setting manages to feel both mythic and original.  I can’t recommend the original enough, and this sequel does a great job in setting us up for a truly world-shattering finale.

 

Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Clover Winton-Polak

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