“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living – one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying. Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel – a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness. This was not that world.”
Back in September I reviewed the publisher’s teaser for Days of Blood and Starlight, the second in Laini Taylor’s fantasy trilogy. After reading the teaser I simply couldn’t wait for the actual book to arrive… and when it did I devoured it in one sitting.
The language is mesmerising, the settings are compelling and the story is heart-stoppingly brilliant. Set in a fantasy world where the seraphim (angels) and monsters (chimaera) are ancient enemies, the book also has a foot in the real world as quirky, blue-haired protagonist Karou holes up in a Moroccan Kasbah and builds an army of chimaera to protect others from the army of seraphim.
In book one (Daughter of Smoke and Bone), the worlds of the seraphim and the chimaera had collided when Karou and Akiva fell in love and dared to dream of a world where the two races could live in peace and harmony. But love is a fragile beast and Karou and Akiva must face the realities of their love – and what it has done. As Days of Blood and Starlight opens, Karou and Akiva are once again on opposite sides, all hopes of a future of harmony a distant dream. Now as Karou slaves over her gristly task of creating a fearsome army of monsters for the chimaera leader, the exotic, sinister White Wolf, Akiva is being inexorably drawn into the deathly plans of the seraphim leaders.
Book two of the trilogy is a darker story; it captures the battles, sights and smells, and the themes of hate, envy and lust, but there is humour here too, provided by Karou’s very human best friend Zuzanna, who stumbles into the world of fantasy, of angels and monsters in much the same way that we, the readers, do.
The characters are vividly described and real enough to haunt you once you’ve closed the pages. Karou is, for me, the most engaging heroine of those in any book of a similar genre.
There is one more book in this series – so one more adventure with the seraphs and chimaera beckons before it’s time to say a final goodbye. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, I recommend you get book one and let yourself be drawn into this fantasy world, and lose yourself in a twisting tale of good and bad, love and passion.
Many thanks to Jane for the review, and Hodder & Stoughton for the review copy.