I will admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Daughter of Smoke and Bone the first title in this particular trilogy (also named Daughter of Smoke and Bone). It was a thoroughly interesting setting and the characters were vibrant, but the romantic element of the book (for me) began to overwhelm the rest of the book, and although the rest of the book caught up, it was enough to taint my experience.
So it was with a little trepidation that I started Days of Blood and Starlight, worried that the story would become even more thoroughly engrossed within a romantic shell. But that was not the case, the romantic elements carried through from the first book but they were somewhat muted and definitely played a smaller part compared to the main storyline.
I would like to point out that I think this is very much a personal preference on my part. I’ve never been a huge fan of stories that focus on romance as the main plot. It’s just not my cup of tea. So if that’s something that you do enjoy, do add in an extra dimension for this review, because even though it’s not my thing, I can appreciate that Laini Taylor does write her romantic story very well.
And now let’s get into the review proper, I won’t give away too much of the story in case you go away and want to read the series, but I don’t think that I can completely avoid spoilers for the first book especially so if you want to read the first book (which I think you should): Spoilers ahoy! Come back later!
Right then, now it’s just us/now you’re all caught up let’s begin.
The story picks up from where the last book left off and we are thrown even deeper into the magical world populated by chimaera and angels. Taylor does a wonderful job of really building that world up, bringing it to life and making us feel like we’re a part of it. The characters, old and new, take us to new places so we really begin to explore both sides of the world adding depth and overtures that begin to sound a bit like epic fantasy to the storyline.
The war is largely over and we see the angelic forces turn their gazes elsewhere, teasing glimpses of the rest of the world that Taylor has created and we also begin to see the lands and people of the chimaera as well. Taylor takes us from small villages on the chimaeran plains to the towering stronghold of the angelic forces, all the while fleshing out the story and inhabiting the world with powerful characters. This adds an excellent measure of depth to the world that Taylor has created and with the desolate ending of the first book hanging over the fantastical world of Eretz we see it with more depth and more visceral vibrancy.
Taylor’s writing is generally very good, bringing the story to the readers whilst maintaining a balance between clarity and descriptive prose that can bog some writers down. I did find myself tripping up on a few sentences, forcing me to read them several times before I understood what Taylor was trying to convey, but these were generally few and the further the book progressed the less this happened. There were also a couple of instances where it seemed that Taylor had found a particular phrase that she found rather fetching and in a short number of pages that particular phrase, or variations of it, appeared quite a lot. I wasn’t completely sure if this was an intentional move to show the characters recurring thought process rather than Taylor obsessively putting in certain phrases.
With that said her writing was good and there were many more moments where the writing really drags you into the characters’ fears, hopes and elation. The pacing of the story was good and I never felt like I was just waiting for the next thing to happen and Taylor keeps the tension within her story without overusing it and making tension feel like the default state with no sense of danger.
Taylor clearly enjoys her comic relief, and whilst she does need some parts of her book which are at least not as scattered with tragedy as the rest of her book I think that it could perhaps be better delivered if the comic relief was not just two characters and their interactions. This sometimes left a queer taste as these characters acted as the balancing act for the darker and more tragic elements almost regardless of the proximity of those elements. I understand the need to not constantly batter your readers with depressing storylines, but I felt as though this need for relief sometimes came at the cost of realistic reactions. Even the most lighthearted of people puts on a serious face now and again. But with that said, the comic scenes were heartfelt and well done, if not slightly odd in their timing, and you really feel like Taylor is putting something of herself down on the page during these scenes.
Overall I did thoroughly enjoy Days of Blood and Starlight it was a well written, interesting story with bright vivid characters. It is a most excellent sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Taylor does an exquisite job of building on the world she has created and really giving us a much deeper view of it, and I would definitely like to see more. Romantically this book is more muted than the first, with the betrayal felt at the end of the first book hanging heavy over the story. But Taylor expertly weaves this into her work and really pulls at your heartstrings with this follow up to Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
I would certainly recommend this book, if you are looking for something with an epic feel to it without a confusing cast of characters that has a splash of comedy without compromising the story or theme of the book then this would definitely fit the bill. It’s a good read that makes you keep wanting to turn the pages and discover more and more about the world and the people that live in it, and the final installment in the trilogy promises to be bigger than ever.