So, in the last book, basically, former art student Karou found out after cracking a special wishbone with her boyfriend Akiva that she used to be the princess of the chimaera named Madrigal, but because of loving Akiva prior, she was executed and then ressurected. And Akiva has revealed that her entire family was slaughtered by the seraphim, and she's now missing. Karou's best friend, Zuzana, and her boyfriend Mik are trying to find her and Akiva and his two loyal and best-friend-esque siblings Hazael and Liraz are leading the seraphim to slaughter the remainder of the chimaera rebels in the world of Eretz, but Akiva is secretly aiding the chimaera, sometimes sneaking off in the night and showing himself to the enemy to scare them off before the army approaches the next day. But now that Karou knows who she is, she has to do all she can to end this war, whether that means stopping it or winning it.
The thing you'll either love or hate about the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is the writing. Honestly, I'm kind of envious, because Laini Taylor has an indisputable talent with vocabulary. She can pluck opulent words out of thin air and she seemed to have thought over almost every sentence she puts on the page carefully. The problem I had in the first book with this is it came off to me as distracting, having so much description and desperation for me to know everything about this world that the important details got all cluttered up, and the only characters I got a good view of were Karou, Akiva, Hazael, Liraz, Brimstone, Zuzana and Mik. And perhaps Thiago, who I was able to pay more attention to this time. All the others, and there were many others, were blanks. I mean, Taylor manages to come up with about twenty different fantasy names. I applaud her imagination. Amzallag. Rash. Thisalene. Nevo. Nisk. Lisseth. Namais. Sveva. Misorias. I wouldn't be able to tell you who these people are because there's not really a description for what they look like or how they act, not clearly anyway. But because there are so many inventive fantasy names and such "well-done" writing, I wanted to like the first book. I really did. But couldn't.
What I also hated about the first book was its level of insta-love, Akiva going out with Karou right after trying to kill her, and then the book ended with not a cliffhanger but a flashback. While that was an unusual way of lining your story, I wanted a climax in the present to make me feel afraid for Karou, not someone else.
And when Days of Blood and Starlight began, I was once again worried the same problems would happen, and honestly I didn't find much that was advancing in the first 150 pages or so. After that it got a little better, especially when Zuzana and Mik got into the mix. Then I found out something strange: Laini Taylor's poetic writing was still clogging up the story and confusing me, and the new characters were still add-on and who-are-you-and-where-did-you-come-from, but I nonetheless was kind of enjoying it. This book was easier to devour than Wayfarer, which had pretty much the same amount of pages and was a sequel to a book I loved. Bizarre.
I mean, when you hate a book, it's in a critic's gut to hate the sequel, just like vice versa with loving a book. And I got very picky with a few extra things. One, I was never a fan of the fact these characters either speak their creature/angel languages, or Czech, not English. It made me feel a little distanced from these characters. Also, there's a scene sort of meant for comedy where Zuzana and Mik are hanging out in a hotel and Mik draws on Zuzana, tracing letters with her sweat using his finger and leaves a message. The only problem is, this is spelled out in English. These guys shouldn't be speaking that. And the utilization of magic and wishes? Cause apparently what I learned was that chimaera bones, primarily their teeth, hold magic. You just have to read in the first book how Karou caused her ex to itch for the proof. There's no such magic here, no wishes at all. But you know, that's a small thing no one who likes this series will mind. Even Michael Vey had a few things I noticed that I didn't mind.
So what are the good things? This time, we see Karou say that falling in love with Akiva was a mistake, and she didn't even really know him. Points there. I also got kind of pissed sometimes with Thiago, and I was extremely curious about what he was doing with the chimaera army behind Karou's back, and I found myself caring what the chimaera thought of their leader. There are some well-timed moments of conflict with both sides of this war, and some actual sword fights that managed to keep my reading interest afloat.
I also liked how there's some focus on Liraz, one of the few characters from the previous book I was interested in. The way she talks and thinks, she reminds me of Raven from Teen Titans or something, and being able to read about her was even a little fun. She's asexual, has emotions she tries to deny herself when she's with Hazael and Akiva, and is reasonably furious whenever Karou is brought up.
I won't spoil the ending, but it was entertaining enough. In fact, there's a slaughter scene that had me even a little worried the book was pulling all of its ideas into this one and wouldn't have any good ones for the third, Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I was actually considering a recommendation. I in the end thought more about how something comes up in the end involving Thiago that doesn't make sense and should've been looked into more, but I guess you can tell that this is a book I went in very picky about, so I might as well stop here.
Look, Days of Blood and Starlight was a book I surprisingly had some fun reading, so even if the book format is not my type and there are things I had problems with, the fact that I actually enjoyed it rewards it a generous grade.