Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Book Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

CAUTION: Major spoilers for Daughter of Smoke and Bone ahead!!  Although, if you haven't read the first of these astonishing, heartbreaking novels, the following is going to make absolutely no sense to you at all...

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them.

And its snap split the world in two.

When we last left Karou, she was soaring toward the secret portal in the sky above Morocco with Razgut the Fallen on her back, frantically hoping that what Akiva told her could not be true - that her chimaera family must still be alive somewhere in Eretz.  Surely, surely Brimstone, Issa, Twiga and Yasri could not all have been lost forever in the mass destruction of the fortress city of Loramendi by the seraphim.

But Karou finds only death in the razed city she once called home - death and Thiago, the White Wolf.  Thiago, alive, who she last locked eyes with at her execution when she was Madrigal of the Kirin, sentenced to death for the treason of falling in love with the enemy seraph Akiva, and not with the brutal Thiago.  Not all the chimaera were destroyed, and Thiago has plans for a rebellion - and for Karou, who is the last and only of the chimaera to possess the knowledge, and the magic, to create revenants.

Akiva, not knowing what else to do with his shattered soul, rejoins his brother Hazael, sister Liraz, and the Misbegotten.  After searching for Karou in the caves of the Kirin, he found only a thirible with the inscription Karou.  Surely, this means she is dead.  And since Akiva, in his grief and rage over Madrigal's execution, revealed the chimaera's greatest secret to the seraphim leaders, the magic of resurrection, the only one who could bring Karou's soul back - Brimstone - is dead.  Even if she were alive, Akvia knows Karou would never forgive him for the murder of her family.

In Prague, Karou's best friend Zuzanna and Zuzanna's devoted boyfriend, Mik, wait frantically for news of Karou.  When Zuzanna receives a cryptic email from Karou revealing only that she is 'priestess of a sandcastle in a land of dust and starlight,' this, along with the national news that a highly talented thief is stealing, of all things, teeth, from natural history museums around the world, sets the fiercely loyal Zuze on a frenzied quest to cross borders and deserts to find Karou.

When someone - or something - begins killing angels again in Eretz, in silence and darkness and soaking the earth is blood once again, the seraphim wing forth to destroy all chimaera.  But Akiva, who once sat in a temple with his beloved Madrigal and dreamed of a world made new, a world filled with love and not bloodshed, finds he cannot become the mindless soldier that he once was.  As for Karou, as she fills the world with Thiago's monsters, she must decide if she will be driven only by vengeance and grief  - or if, perhaps, there is still room in her heart for hope.

Amazing, astonishing, astounding, and just wow, wow, wow, Days of Blood and Starlight is a world you will immerse yourself in completely.  Intricate world building, gorgeous language, and characters that will make your heart sing and shatter in quick succession are fast becoming Laini Taylor's trademark.  Brutal, violent, desolate and beautiful, the fine strands of hope that pierce the darkness of the war torn world of Eretz - and the hearts of seraphim and chimaera - will light up your own heart and make you hope for a new world.  If you love books, absolutely do not miss what I think may be two of the best books written pretty much ever!

(who kind of wants to get hamsas tattooed onto my palms... except that would really hurt!)

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