Bibliomantic Book Club: “Days of Blood & Starlight” by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
Release Date
: November 6, 2012
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Drama, Awesomeness (That’s a genre, right?)

SummaryAfter the stunning revelations in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou has a new purpose in life: doing whatever she can to help the remaining chimaera of Eretz survive to fight another day. Unfortunately, none of her newly re-discovered brethren seem to trust her. Especially not rebellion leader Thiago, who had her executed a lifetime ago. When Thiago’s attacks against the enemy become increasingly pointless and disturbing, Karou begins to question whether what she’s doing is right or only driving her world further and further away from the dream she and Akiva shared years before.

Since losing Karou for the second time, Akiva  is once again forced to question his own place in the war. He gains fame amongst his brethren as the “Beasts’ Bane,” but nobody but his brother and sister know of his true skill with magic, and that he’s using it to help chimaera civilians escape from the slaughter his father has commanded. Can he continue to fight for his father… or can he do the unthinkable and fight against him? 

In this thrilling sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, it’s time for everyone to pick a side. But who says the war only has two sides?

After much anticipation, we finally got our hands on the phenomenal book known as Days of Blood and Starlight. From the gorgeous language to the Monty Python references, to the heartbreaking reality of a war torn world – everything about this book was just epically awesome. Laini Taylor has captured our imaginations and we hope she never lets us go! Guys, we loved this book a lot. Slightly spoiler-y reviews ahead!

CASSIE-WA’S THOUGHTS

THE FEELS. SO MANY OF THEM. My love for this series is as undying as a chimaera revenant. *swoon*

First of all, god damn, these books are GORGEOUS! I just want to wrap myself up in Laini’s writing like a blanket. And the worlds she has created in Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of the Blood and Starlight are lovely and terrifying and wonderful. As I neared the end of “Days” I kept thinking, “Man, I wish this book wouldn’t end and I could just always be reading it forever.”

One of my favorite thing about these books, and especially “Days of Blood and Starlight,” is the excellent balance between beautifully constructed fantasy and realism.

For example, we see Karou taking up the position of resurrectionist for the last dregs of the chimaera rebellion. Her friends look on in wonder, and the reader might too, except we also see Karou tired and bruised and alone, and in a constant power struggle with scary-creepy-manipulative-douchebag Thiago. Akiva is an angelic soldier in a veritable heavenly host, but the text takes time to explore his personal struggles, and the close, conflicted relationship he has with his siblings. The concept of the story is so fantastical, and book ended by fairy tale-esque phrases starting with, “Once upon a time…,” but the story itself finds a place that is very real.

Not to mention funny, on occasion. Special shout out to Zuzana, Mik, and Hazael for being awesome and sassy in the face of doom and destruction.

I have a similar wish with this book that I had with the last which is… I wish it was two books. While it was interesting to see how Karou and Akiva’s stories overlapped, I was incredibly interested in each story on its own. Enough that I could have read at least twice as much about each! Karou’s figuring out who she is between her human and chimaera identities and what her place is in a world of endless war where the people she’s fighting to save think she’s a traitor. Akiva is learning that his Stelian ancestry has given him more than just a small gift for magic, and also, maybe his dad is crazy and needs to go down. And they’re both grieving over the loss of each other. (Frankly, I can’t wait until they stop being so stupid about that in the next one… Fingers crossed!)

Days of Blood and Starlight is endlessly entertaining and epically delightful. You’ve either read it, or you’re wrong.

STEPHANIE’S THOUGHTS

This series is absolutely amazing – breathtaking, beautiful, and heartbreaking. Days of Blood and Starlight completely obliterated my expectations, it surpassed them so completely. Laini Taylor is an absolute genius and I am so happy this story exists and I get to read it. She has created such vivid, wonderful characters and such an epic war torn world for them to inhabit. The narrative is so complete and just utterly fascinating. This sequel especially really captured all the horror of war and how helpless it can be to be stuck between two sides who will never get along. Violence breeds violence.

Even though these books are really a complete package, it’s definitely the characters that have me so in love. Karou is so strong and yet so sad and broken in this book. Shattered by the tragedy of losing her adoptive family, forced to make monsters to do Thiago’s bidding – somehow she keeps going despite the constant pain, both emotional and physical. I love Ziri and the love and loyalty he has for Karou – still hanging on from his “childhood crush on Madrigal” days. And then of course, Zuzana. Best character ever created? Quite possibly! Her and Mik are absolutely wonderful for this book. Zuzana is tougher than nails and hilarious all the time to boot. Perfect humor and beautiful how she and Mik befriend the chimera. I also really enjoyed learning more about Hazael and Liraz who really became real to me in this book. Liraz – so tough on the outside, but really frightened just like everyone else. And Hazael….the perfect example of someone who could have thrived and laughed and loved so fiercely if the world he lived in was different and he hadn’t been born and bred to kill. So much sadness.

I also really enjoyed the introduction of minor characters – varied people all living the same war, but with a vastly different experience than our main players. It really brought the horror of it all home. Everyone is affected, no matter what side they are on or who they are. It’s scary how many lives hang in the balance based on the decisions of just a few.

Several moments literally made me stop breathing or gave me chills. All moments made me FEEL ALL THE FEELS. I cannot tell anyone enough how much they need to read these books. For real. Jump on this bandwagon now, baby. You will not be sorry. I haven’t been this excited and felt this many feels over a series in a long while. Absolutely cannot wait for more!

KELLY’S THOUGHTS

First. I will never again read the word “ennui” without thinking of dirty things. Add this to Cassie Clare’s South Carolina jokes, and I would testify to the WSJ that young adult authors are CORRUPTING THE VERY ENGLISH LANGUAGE. (And yes, I know ennui is French. But everyone knows French is already a dirty, dirty language. All their words contain “wee.” Case closed.)

Okay, but seriously now. Hot damn, this book. While I enjoyed the first book (especially when the whole backstory of Madrigal and Akiva came to light), I was completely blown away by the second part of the series. Laini Taylor took everything about Daughter of Smoke and Bone and turned it up to eleven. The war between chimera and seraphim rages on, albeit more savage than ever before. New powers rising manipulate those around them. And of course – the star crossed lovers of Karou and Akiva are at the heart of everything. However, they are no longer the naïve pair they once were. Barrier after barrier is thrown up between them; perceived betrayals compounding the problems they face.

Whereas Daughter slowly brought the world of Eretz to life, Days shows the horrors that the bloody war inflicted upon it. Taylor created these incredibly effective points of view from minor characters that briefly brought the war to life. Like a seraphim imagining a chimera mother’s brief agony over leaving behind a much used cradle. Or a small deer-like chimera running for her life and having the quiet audacity to believe “I am important, though.” These short narratives intertwined with the overarching story really gave the text even more substantial and nuanced emotions.

The minor love story of Zuzana and Mik adds the perfect amount of lightness. Not that I’m complaining about the serious nature of Days; it is about war after all, but this is why the wonderful and incredibly sweet relationship of Zuze and Mik is important. In the midst of death, betrayal, and deciding between bad and awful, we need reminders that life can be beautiful and tender and silly. Hoping for a world in which everyone has the chance to live and love as openly as Zuzana and Mik is something worth working towards, despite how hard it may be.

Finally… Karou and Akiva need to get to relieving their ennui already. The constant sexual eye contact is going to lead to asthenopia.

CASSIE-LA’S THOUGHTS

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them. And its snap split the world in two.”

Initial thoughts: OH MY GOD! Or rather, OH MY LAINI TAYLOR! This is how you write a sequel.

Taylor’s writing is still as crisp as in Daughter of Smoke & Bone, her characters just as inventive and the situations they find themselves in just as gripping. You cannot even begin to understand the pleasure I had reading this series- especially after muddling through another young adult sequel right before this that was extremely disappointing. The whole thing reads like a new-age fairytale and I loved every second of it. LOVED!

I apologize in advance that the only coherent thoughts I can seem to make are in caps lock or include exclamation points.

The great thing about this sequel is the entire world is in on the action. Karou is filmed on the bridge (see: Smoke & Bone) fighting angels and now the whole world knows that magic is real- or thinks there are some pretty impressive illusionists out there. The supernatural exists and “the Girl on the Bridge” is a worldwide celebrity. She also later becomes known as “The Tooth Phantom” and “the face of the Apocalypse” for various other reasons. If only we could all be Karou, the girl with the peacock blue hair. Just because. Because I want to be able to fly so bad! Also: immortality.

Zuzana continues to be the best secondary character, she’s a blend of fun and adorableness. Fundorable if you will. In the opening of the novel, she and Karou exchange emails (complete with Monty Python references that actually work – I’m looking at you GRRM) from @rabidfairy@shakestinyfist.net. How does this domain name not already exist? Snatch that up Laini! Anyway, these two have the cutest friendship ever, especially when Zuzana tells Karou about a day she had with boyfriend Mik saying, “It was the best day of my life. Until the one when you come back.” FUNDORABLE!

Of course Akiva is given his page time, and he has his own adventures (which I grew to appreciate eventually), but it is Karou’s story which held most of my attention. Possibly because the political intrigue is turned down. Still there, but not as intricate as the world of the angels. Without giving too much away, I will say that Karou is forced to deal with the fact that the ex-love of her life killed her whole family and as a result is helping to restore the chimaera race.

If you loved the portion of the last book that dealt with Karou’s back story in Eretz, then you will love each time you get to a Karou section of Blood & Starlight. Taylor takes the excitement of that part of Smoke & Bone and adds in even more world building. Although with more pain and bloodshed and less splendid parties that involve dusting yourself in sugar.

WHAT WE LIKED MOST:
-Beautiful writing
-Amazing exploration of the world that was built so well in Daughter
-Introduction of minor characters to round out the full experience of the war
-Zuzana being FUNDORABLE
-Everything

WHAT WE LIKED LEAST:
-Book should not have ended, but instead gone on forever. More please!

In lieu of a December Bibliomantic Book Club, the Bibliomantics will be reviewing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey! We will return with our regularly scheduled book club in January, with a book to be or not to be determined.

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