Book: Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2)
Author: Laini Taylor
This was my August #RockMyTBR book, and after enjoying the first book in the series last summer and buying the other two and getting them all signed at YALC, I was really looking forward to reading this one and seeing what happened next in Karou’s story, but I’m sad to say I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the first. Whilst the first book was for the most part set in Prague, we move to Morocco/Eretz for most of this book and I have to say I definitely missed Prague! I had thought I would have liked this book more because I had been told it was darker and less romance heavy than the first one, but I actually missed the kind of whimsical, hopeful feel of the first one, for a long while in this one, it just felt like stuff was bad and was never going to get better and mopey Karou and angsty Akiva were difficult to deal with! Perhaps if it had been 200 pages shorter, I might have enjoyed it more, but as it was, it really felt like 400 odd pages of mostly filler and then all the really important stuff happened in the last 100 pages-so infuriating when that happens! Here is a short synopsis of the book:
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living – one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.
Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was like a jewel-box without a jewel – a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.
This was not that world.
This book was yeah….it was a difficult one for me to read. We pick up in an odd place, where we left off with Karou and Akiva in the last book, we pick up with Zuzana and Mik in Prague and much as I love them, it felt like a strange place to pick up after the end of the last book! It takes us a good ten chapters to even find out what Karou has been doing and even then, the actual plot, what little of it there is, just drags so badly. It wasn’t until maybe 300-400 pages into this 500 page tome that it actually felt like things were happening and yeah, that was not great.
In addition to this, the book is so dark and depressing. Necessarily so, sure, it is a war book and it couldn’t have had quite the same whimsical feel as the first book, but I think the author didn’t really need to hit us over the head with how bad war is all the time, we get it war is bad and pointless and a lot of people are dying here, but for so long it just felt like pointless, endless war with no hope for reprieve and whilst that may have been Laini Taylor’s point, it wasn’t great fun to read about.
The pacing in this book was SO OFF. The chapters were really uneven, at the start they were super short, and then they started to get longer and then they went back to being super short again and some chapters didn’t even feel like they were adding anything to the story. There was not enough plot to justify 500 pages of story.
Karou is basically a totally different person in this book than she was in the first one. It’s understandable, she’s grieving, but I didn’t feel like I was really rooting for her in this one. She was so directionless and she couldn’t make up her mind and was just generally so whiny and whilst I could understand it, it was not fun to read about. I missed the sassy, smart protagonist that was in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, this book’s Karou felt so completely different to that.
I’m still not a massive fan of Akiva, he still feels totally two dimensional, and I didn’t find his POV engaging at all. Even when I found Karou irritating, she didn’t feel flat in the same way that Akiva did. His motivations are basically solely around her, and it felt like if she hadn’t been Madrigal, Akiva wouldn’t have cared at all about the chimaera. I did however enjoy his interactions with his siblings, Hazael and Liraz actually felt more three dimensional than Akiva did and they saved Akiva’s POV for me, because even when I didn’t like him, I did enjoy them.
The romance is basically non-existent in this book, instead we get my favourite *rolls eyes* thing, with Karou and Akiva being all angsty over each other, as Karou can’t get past what he did to her family (understandable) and Akiva is trying to make things up to her, but I’m sorry Akiva, there are some things a girl just can’t get over. I really can’t get on board this ship anymore, though I know it will probably be a HEA for Karou and Akiva in the last book, because genocide of your girlfriend’s people? Yeah that’s not something that makes for a healthy relationship.
Zuzana and Mik were the saving grace of this book for me, even though they didn’t quite fit as the Prague story is really secondary in this book. I love their relationship and Zuzana is just everything I love, a short, feisty, funny girl and Mik is so cute and sensitive and a generally great boyfriend. I can’t wait to read the novella story about them later this year! So yeah, their part didn’t really fit with all the war stuff going on, but they did provide a nice break from all the despair.
The writing was nice enough, but like in the first book, it did feel overwritten at times, I didn’t need quite so much flowery prose and it didn’t fit as well in this book as it did in the first one, because this one has a much darker tone and it felt like the writing didn’t really reflect that? The constantly switching POVs were also really annoying as it made the pace of the book feel kind of jerky and some of the POVs just didn’t fit-like all the stuff with Sveva and Sarazal? Yeah that wasn’t necessary. Laini Taylor also had a super annoying habit of telling you exactly what was going to happen before it happened and I found that took me out of the story quite a bit.
Thiago, the White Wolf makes for a decent villain of this book, as he is genuinely scary, but it was a bit ridiculous that it took so long for Karou to work out that he was working against her, not for her. I also thought that the attempted rape (trigger warning in this book for rape and extreme violence), was a step too far and was definitely not needed. In fact there was a lot of gratuitous violence and mentions of violence against women in this book and I was definitely not there for that.
There were a lot of new characters brought in in this book, in fact a few too many I thought, because at points I was struggling to keep up with who was who! The only one that really made an impact on me was Ziri, a fellow Kirin, who of course has to have a crush on Karou (*eyeroll*) as he was super cute and precious and just genuinely sweet.
We go more in depth in the resurrection process in this book, which I thought was really cool, the one plus to this book is that we get deeper into the world of Eretz and I definitely came out with a better understanding of everything than in the first book so that was good.
The final twist was pretty much the only part of the book that I felt genuinely excited about and then just as things were getting good, the book was over! The book definitely spent too much time focusing on the wrong stuff and just didn’t get to the point fast enough, and by the time I actually was interested in what was going on, it was too late. I have to admit, I didn’t really understand the point of the ending, though I can’t explain why without spoilers, so let’s just say I don’t think that the direction it looks as if the third book is heading in is entirely necessary.
I loved the map at the beginning, it was super helpful to refer back to when places in Eretz were mentioned!
The conflict between the chimaera and the seraphim feels way too black and white, Taylor makes it pretty clear the chimaera are the good guys and the seraphim are the bad guys and I just felt there was so much more room for nuance than Taylor explored.
Overall, this book definitely suffered from second book syndrome, the pacing was slow, Karou was unrecongnizable for most of the book, Akiva was bland and were it not for Zuzana and Mik, the entire book would have been completely depressing with not much room for hope, ironic given Karou’s name means just that! I still want to read the final book, because I want to know how it ends, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing to do so anytime soon.
My Rating: 3/5
BECHDEL TEST: PASS-Karou and Zuzana talk about resurrections and chimaera and magic.
My next review will be of the latest Throne of Glass book Tower of Dawn, which I am finally reading before Kingdom of Ash comes out in October!