Rating: 5/5 stars
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 a 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.
(Description from Goodreads)
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What would you do if the person you loved was killed by their own family? Would you fall, losing all hope of living again; or would you fight back?
I feel like we may have just entered the age of incredible sequels. I hate to admit it, but lately the second books in popular trilogies have a way of disappointing me - the characters flip their personalities or the story feels like a filler for the final battle. But we're coming out of that trend. 'Days of Blood and Starlight' conveys the same powerful, emotional and addictive story and characters that we're first introduced to in 'Daughter of Smoke and Bone' and takes it to a whole new level. There is not a moment of this book I would have traded for something else, and I wish it had gone on forever. I have no doubt Laini Taylor could have an endless story if she wanted to.
We start the book in the middle of war. We saw signs of this war between the chimaera and the seraphim in the previous book, not only through the angels' active destruction of the portals between Eretz and the Human World, but through Karou's memories as Madrigal. War is all these races knew for so long. But this time, we get to see more of that fighting in the present. Karou is distraught over the death of her family and the collapse of her home, and puts all her energy into continuing the work of her father-like figure, Brimstone. While Akiva, determined to find out how to make up for all his wrongs, plans ways to stop the seraphim from annihilating the last of the chimaera. This book is very action based - what else would expect from a scenes that take place in a time of war? I love action books. The heart racing, blood pumping through the veins - not knowing what might be coming next. It makes it hard to put the book down to do normal things, like eat and sleep!
It's no secret that Laini Taylor has a way with words. She sweeps you up in her powerful tale and spits you out as a new person in the end; completely lost for words and shaking from the journey you've just been on. There were countless times when I had to pause after reading a sentence, just because the raw emotion and images that it produced were too much for me to function. You're attached to every character, every situation; from the Damas running to escape from seraphim slavery, to the guards posted outside the Angel strongholds, to the chimaera experiencing the endless pain tithe for resurrection. Nothing is hidden from the power of Laini's words.
We definitely see a different Akiva and a different Karou, in this book. There's no way for them to be the people they were before, not with so many issues pressing down upon them. Their pasts are always in the front of their - and everyone else's - minds; with no chance of escaping past choices and emotions. But, oh did I want them to forget about what everyone else might think, forget about the past, forget about their troubles. I just wanted to see them together and fighting for the same cause. When you've already seen the passion between two characters (or in two relationships, both Akiva and Karou, and Akiva and Madrigal), it's hard not to want to see those relationships again. But this is not a romance story, despite the longing, the hints, the hope. And, oh is there so much Hope!
This series is not a series that is about one character alone. It's not even about two characters (ie. those we would consider the main characters - Karou and Akiva, even if references to an angel and devil falling in love, is focusing on them). No. This series is much more than that. There are so many different characters that make it amazing. Of course, I want to mention Karou and Akiva, who have both suffered so much heartache over being together and being pulled apart. I can't get enough of these two. But there are characters I loved just as much as them. Zuzana and Mik. Never have the 'human' friends been so entertaining, so passionate and so persistent, Zuzana is incredible. She never gives up on the chance of being with Karou and, because of all the crazy she has already seen, accepting that there is more crazy to come doesn't seem to faze her. I'm so glad she has Mik though, because she needs a little normality in her life. The dialogue that runs between Zuzana and Mik brought smiles to my face almost every time they were on the page, and when there were no smiles it wasn't because of them, but the situation they were in. Then there's Ziri. A chimaera soldier, the last Kirin, who still wears his original skin. I adore Ziri. He's seen the worst of the world and still manages to hold onto this air of innocence. He comes out of his shell throughout the novel and you can't help loving him. And finally, the seraphim Misbegotten, the Emperor's bastards, Liraz and Hazael. Akiva's siblings and closest friends. The ones he can rely on to always have his back, even if he's not too sure they'll approve of his choices. It's amazing too see all these different characters interacting and fighting for survival and freedom. Laini Taylor finds a way to bring a voice to ever single character she creates, without making any of them seem 2D. Every one of them feels real and every one is important to the story.
One of the sub-plots that interested me the most involved Akiva's past, his history. Known as the Beast's Bane for his part in destroying the chimaera stronghold, you would think Akiva was important. But like all bastard offspring of the angel's Emperor, Akiva has no position, no family, no role in the world other than being a soldier. But we do find out more of his ancestry and it really makes you think; discovering just what makes him so different from the other Misbegotten. I'm a little obsessed with Akiva, so finding out more about him really sparked my interest. I can't wait to see how it all ties into the next book.
The end of the book leaves you breathless. Twists and turns that I definitely couldn't see coming, but are game changers. The war can't hope to be stopped in one book, and the angels have made the biggest move yet. I can't even begin to imagine how anyone will prevent more destruction from following in book #3, but one can only hope that there'll be action like no-one's ever known. And I'm looking forward to every last moment of it!
(Originally Posted on Goodreads)