Author: Laini Taylor
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, book #2
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publication Date: November 6, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
Ermigawd. Um, yeah, so this is probably going to be an incoherent ramble, but here goes. Days of Blood & Starlight was not what I was expecting, if you can ever really come to expect anything from a story such as this. While it had brief moments of levity -- mostly thanks to the witty banter between Zuzana and Mik -- it was, for the most part, a very dark and melancholy tale. I won't spoil anything from Days of Blood & Starlight or from Daughter of Smoke & Bone. But if you haven't read the first book in this series yet, I must ask, Why the hell not?!?
Laini Taylor must be made of pure genius. This author has created the most imaginative, most fantastical world I've ever had the pleasure of transporting myself to. But what Laini Taylor does for words, Khristine Vham does for narration. I love this narrator. It's that simple. She does accents, and she does them well. She conveys so much emotion and her narration is so in tune with the story that I never had to wonder who was speaking or if what was being said was aloud or in thought. Pretty much, any audiobook narrated by Khristine Hvam is sure to impress and delight.
So, speaking of accents, there is quite a large cast of characters in this series, all with different languages and interesting sounding names. Even so, none of them are shallow or underdeveloped like you might expect due to the sheer volume of characters presented. Each has his or her own story and background, and some even maintain their own third person point-of-view for small spurts at a time. I found this method of presenting the story thoroughly engaging, but I most enjoyed when it was Zuzana's turn. Her exchanges with Mik are the one bright spot in this whole story, as they provide the frivolity that serves to make Karou and Akiva's perspectives slightly less bleak. But only slightly.
If Daughter of Smoke & Bone was about the search for answers -- Who is Karou? Where did she come from? Why does she collect teeth for Brimstone? -- then Days of Blood & Starlight is about the search for peace. A war rages between the inhabitants of her world, Eretz, and Akiva and Karou are battling the odds to end it. A never-ending cycle of retribution has befallen the Seraphim (Akiva's people) and the Chimaera (Karou's people), but Karou and Akiva dare to dream, to hope of peace between their species.
It's not often that a sequel lives up to its predecessor's reputation, but Days of Blood & Starlight is most definitely just as beautiful, lyrical, and poignant as the first book in this series. Not only is this book not a filler to prolong the story, but it is full of stunning passages brimming with imagery that only Laini Taylor could incorporate into a book. I devoured this story like warm cookies straight from the oven, and I'm already salivating for the next installment. And I'm going to stop talking now before I go into fangirl-mode.
"Please tell me you have to pee."
"What? No. No, I do not. Don't even ask."
"Oh, come on. I'd do it myself if I could, but I can't. I'm a girl."
"I know. Life is so unfair. I'm still not going to pee on Karou's ex-boyfriend for you."
"She spun on her heel and walked on. Mik gave the huge puppet a tug to get it rolling again, and followed. "So," he called to her back, "just out of curiosity, you know, purely conversation and all, at what age will you be entertaining offers of marriage?"
"You think it'll be so easy?" she called back over her shoulder. "No way. There will be tasks. Like in a fairy tale."
"That sounds dangerous."
"Very. So think twice."
"No need," he said. "You're worth it." And Zuzana's face warmed with pleasure.
"Who was that?" Zuzana whispered as Karou led her and Mik out of the big courtyard where the monsters were gathered. "The other white meat?"
Karou's laugh sounded like a choke. "Oh god," she said when she could breath again. "And now that's what I'm going to think every time I see him. Watch your step."
"Karou regarded them with that hardness she'd shown when she shoved him -- it was anger, Akiva thought, that he had again forced her to decide his fate. She had changed so much in just a few months. The sharpness, the bleakness. He remembered how she had been back in Prague and Marrakesh, in the little time they'd spent together before the wishbone: the softness and mobility of her expressions; the shy, incongruous smiles; and the rapid-flare flushes that had spread up her fair neck. Even her anger had been a flashing, vital thing, and he hated this new carved-mask hardness, and he hated his part in bringing it about. But at that moment, if he was given the choice, he would still have said he wanted to live."
Trailers for Daughter of Smoke & Bone:
My review for Daughter of Smoke & Bone can be found here.