Wow. Laini Taylor has really raised the bar for writing series with her follow up to the original show stopper, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It was sincerely one of the best sequels I’ve ever read. I was stunned with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, when Taylor blew the hinges off the dynamic world she’d set up in Prague, by adding elements of reincarnation, along with a nested world of chimaera and angels hidden beside our own. Well, she just keeps upping the ante in Days of Blood & Starlight.
This book picks up right where the first one left off. Now that Karou has learned the truth about Akiva, and how he destroyed the only family she’d ever known, she doesn’t see how she could forgive him. Spurred on a quest for vengeance against the seraphim, she finds herself building a shaky alliance with a deadly band of remaining chimaera, acting as their new resurrectionist and the only survivor who worked with Brimstone. This group of warriors is led by the White Wolf, whose own desperation for revenge against Karou, and the seraphim, may eclipse the future of both peoples.
It was captivating reading about Akiva and Karou settling in to their old worlds. They’re both struggling to fit their former roles, as they grapple with the revelation that nothing is the same as before. Their lives are riddled with conflict and impossible choices that result in decisions that shocked me over and over. I was on the edge of my seat reading any scenes between Karou and the White Wolf, and couldn’t read nearly fast enough as I learned more about Akiva’s mother’s tragic past and his own growing magic. Taylor ‘goes there’ as a writer, which takes courage, spunk, poetry and risk, a lethal combination that all readers can aspire to.
Reading this story was difficult at times, but I couldn’t put it down. It was beautiful and tragic and powerful and bleak. While the first installment was more of an adventurous, love story, this one is a very honest depiction of war and the destruction it wreaks on all sides. It brought to mind the infamously wise Yoda waxing poetically about the Dark Side of the Force, which feels very much alive in Akiva and Karou’s world: “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.” It remains to be seen whether fear will tear them apart forever, as well as the world of the seraphim and the chimaera, or if that fear will leach in to the human world. I’ll just have to wait on pins and needles until the third book comes out!