Friday, December 7, 2012

Review of Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

Little Brown Books for
Young Readers
The Days of Blood & Starlight (Bk. 2 Daughter of Smoke and Bone)
By Laini Taylor
5 Scribbles

No one builds worlds as well as Laini Taylor—well not since Tolkien anyway. And now that Karou knows who she truly is, she is plunged headfirst into the broken world of her people, the chimaera. Filled with vengeance and righteous anger, Karou chooses to join her people in the fight against the angels—and against Akiva—in a crucial role.  But is her choice to turn her back on love worth it?

The characters in this novel are even more lifelike and vivid than in the first. It is easy to become immersed in the world of Elsewhere while reading about wolves, Naja, Kirin and winged creatures designed by Karou’s artistic hand. From Thiago’s glossy white fur and menacing eyes, to Ziri’s lithe, antelope-human body, to Akiva’s special beauty and glowing red wings, the reader is treated to a kaleidoscope of images that become virtual candy for the imagination.  And if the descriptions of the creatures and the world of Elsewhere don’t captivate the reader, then the bloody conflict certainly will. Karou and Akiva, soul mates and lovers in book one, find themselves as sworn enemies in this second installment. For Karou, this means filling Brimstone’s shoes as the new Resurrectionist and trusting Thiago, the wolf she still hates with all her being, but must follow to avenge the deaths of her people. It is a strange situation that places Karou as a sort of voluntary prisoner and amplifies the fact that the need for vengeance now controls her. Akiva, on the other hand, is ready to make amends to Karou, and to cease his killing ways, because “a drop of mercy dilutes a lake of hate.” And while there is truth in this, Karou has not had the benefit of years to heal that brought Akiva to this conclusion—thus, she has sworn to hate him.  How much will Karou be willing to endure, and how many angels will she have to kill in order to find any semblance of peace? And if both sides can come to some peace, will the physical marks of Hamas and tattoo marks of the slain on the angels’ hands, be too much of a reminder of atrocities past for the opposing sides to accept one another?

While the conflicts are heavy, bloody, and battles constant, some comic relief is thankfully present via Karou’s BFF Zuzana, now hooked up with Mic from book one. The two provide welcome foils to the newly-sworn-enemies-once-lovers Akiva and Karou. Zuzana and Mic also show an ironic tolerance for the strange creatures and help illustrate the power of music and kindness on the human (and not so human) soul. Perhaps most importantly, these two characters keep the story grounded, and add a human element to the second book which hints at the idea that humans may play a critical role in book three which I am anxiously awaiting…

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