Monday, November 19, 2012


(second in the DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE trilogy, based on pre-publication copy)

Let me allay your fears: DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT lives up to DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE!

I felt a little perplexed by the opening, though. After the cliffhanger ending of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, I wanted to know what happens next to Karou right away, but she remains absent from the story until about fifty pages in. In fact, the opening scene follows secondary characters, human characters, trying to make sense of what appears to be magic. The opening tone also surprised me, since Taylor sets aside the heartbreak of the last book for humor. At the time, I gratefully took this as a sign that the forthcoming story wouldn't be all gloom and doom...but be forewarned, it's an awful lot of said G&D with only Zuzana serving as blatant but necessary comic relief.

Taylor has a knack for presenting her characters with absolutely heartbreakingly horrible choices. No one's hands are clean. It's not so simple as good guys and bad guys. Simply said, this is a depressing book. When I reflect on DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT, negative emotions wiggle to the forefront, not because it's a bad book (it's incredible), but because it's a heartbreaking story. For one, Taylor doesn't shy away from the horror of war and much of this middle book seems devoted to a game of "which side can do the worst things to the most innocent victims just to nettle the leaders of the other side." (This always triggers a debate in my mind about using violence to send an anti-violence message, but that's a looooong post for another day.) Another way to put it: DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is a hope-filled book that ends in despair and DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT is a despair-filled book that ends in hope (er, hope wrapped in despair). While I consider DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT an amazing book, in regards to taste it's probably just a little too dark, too violent, too gory for me and I'm crossing my fingers that the third in the trilogy won't be nearly as intense.

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