Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book Report: Days of Blood and Starlight

Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Days of Blood and Starlight is the sequel to the super excellent Daughter of Smoke and Bone, one of my favorite YA titles from last year. If you haven't read the first book, I highly recommend that you do so... now.

The first book was all magic, atmosphere, swoon and mystery. We meet our blue haired heroine Karou in modern day Prague, where she spends her days filling her art school sketch books with fantastical half-animal creatures so vivid and detailed you believe they are real... which, of course, they are. They're Karou's chimera family, living on a portal between our world and another, sending their "daughter" out around the globe to gather teeth from nefarious sources (for mysterious purposes). Into this picture comes one smoking hot seraph (see: angel), propelling Karou into a chaos of self-discovery. THRILLING. Intrigued? GO READ THIS BOOK.

Now on to the sequel, an excellent middle-book in a planned trilogy. Daughter of Smoke and Bone ended in destruction and loss, but also realization and awakening for our protagonist. The sequel finds Karou and a small band of warrior chimera attempting to recover from the destruction of their home, camping out in a kasbah in the middle of the desert in our world, building a resurrected army. In the world of Eretz, Akiva reluctantly aids the seraph forces in the emperor's attempt to wipe the decimated chimera off the face of the planet. The "blood" in the title belongs there. We gots-lots of death, pain, violence and fear going on here; lots of longing, sorrow and regret. Both sides seem hell bent on mutual destruction. Yet Taylor excellently teases out the scantest threads of hope for survival. (Personal note: due to the violence, themes, and sophistication of the writing, I would recommend this to my high school readers and up; I just don't think the middle school set is ready for this one). 

While our main characters suffer and struggle, the secondary characters from the first book are more fully flushed out and explored. The scenes with Mik and Zuzana especially provided necessary doses of tenderness and beauty in the otherwise bleak landscape. I also loved watching the humanity bloom in Akiva's sister Liraz, hereto depicted as a steely, unbending warrior.

I was so excited for this to be published and was not disappointed in the least. Taylor has such excellent pacing, her images are so evocative, and her writing so uniquely poetic. I can't wait for the third book, especially thanks to a particularly smoldering cave scene in the last few pages. There is much to look forward to. Whatever will I do to pass the time until then? :)

-Kelley, (Your) Teen Services Librarian

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