This is that rarest of creatures: a sequel that bests the original. Just to put that in context, Daughter Of Smoke And Bone was one of the greatest YA novels ever written, a burningly brilliant and resonant story that seared the senses with its gorgeous intensity.
Days Of Blood And Starlight is better.
Yep, I said it.
Laini Taylor proves herself to be an extraordinary resurrectionist. Creating a new literary creature more powerful than any before it. She has upped the emotional intensity, sharpened the sarcasm and brutal wit, exponentially increased the sheer B-movie monster awesomeness of it all, supercharged the zingers and snark, and, somehow, impossibly, she has taken her incredible gift of subtle, moving and fearsome character work to a whole new level. And of all this is presented in a glittering, hypnotic and sensual style that steals into the senses and makes you something other than what you were.
What the hell, Laini Taylor? How did you get so much more awesome than you were before? How did you take your huge canvas from Smoke And Bone and then make us realize that it was just a tiny corner of the vast universe you were actually working on? How did you trick us into believing Smoke And Bone was a deluxe, widescreen theater experience (which was so much bigger than anything else we were reading), when really it was like an YouTube video on an iPhone 3 compared to the IMAX scale of Blood And Starlight?
How did you change the way I looked at YA, and at books and writing in general… And then change it AGAIN with this?
The expansion from book one to book two is even more impressive when you consider that the story is much more focused, in time, in place, in intensity. And yet Taylor spins magical realms from the smallest of details. Those realms are not merely other worlds, but also emotional truths, physical realities. Her writing is heady, stunning, and mesmeric. These are characters and worlds that once you inhabit them, inhabit you. Putting this book down is an impossibility; your heart and soul just will not allow it.
Plot is all in Blood And Starlight, so I shall give none of it away here. All you need to know is that the stakes are radically higher, the emotions are turbo-charged and relentless, the atmospheric power of the novel is off the charts, and Taylor keeps everything tight, controlled and focused with extreme screenplay skill. Not a single word is wasted; everything charges forward, in the manner of an exhilarating but terrifying rollercoaster. It’s almost too much to take in because you power through it so quickly. The incredible views flash past because there’s no stopping the momentum.
Just read it. Love it. And then wait, helplessly, for the next one, your mind and body singing, reeling, resonating. And good luck starting any books after this; because after this, nothing is quite the same.
Rating: Five out of five chimeras