Sunday, May 26, 2013

Audiobook Review: Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor {Book 2 in Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series}

Title: Days of Blood & Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Audiobook Publisher: Hachette Audio
Date of Publication: Nov. 6, 2012
Source:  received from Hachette Audio for honest review
Format: audiobook 
Narrator: Kristine Hvam

Book Synopsis:
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.
This is not that world.
Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.
In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.
While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.
But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

My Thoughts:

You know how you come along through your life and you see things that seem very well matched together?
For example:
  • peanut butter and jelly
  • cookies and milk
  • books/hot tea/coffee
I think you are starting to get the idea now.  
Well the author, Laini Taylor, and the narrator, Kristine Hvam, are like these matches I named above.  They are great by themselves but when teamed up together they make magic.  I know that sounds cliche but I am telling you Hvam can tell this story like no other person I have ever read.  And of course without Taylor creating this frightening and powerful world there would be no story to tell.  

When I finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone I sat mystified.  I knew I had found my new favorite book.  The book that I needed to have a hard copy of, an auditory copy of, an digital copy of; and basically it would be cherished on the book shelf that no other person could reach unless I get credit check.  {Maybe its a little extreme but you know where I am coming from}
Everyone I talked to I bragged about this story; that I was lucky enough to read it and get sucked into a world where Seraphim and Chimaera collided, with all kinds of outcomes, many good but many evil. 

But then....I got my hands (and ears) on book 2 and let's just say I am forever changed from the simple yet powerful spoken words that came from Laini Taylor's imagination and uttered from Kristine Hvam's mesmerizing voice.  
So now, Days of Blood and Starlight is my new new favorite book.  
I found myself having a longer time finishing book 2.  Not because I found it distasteful but actually because I wanted to take my sweet time with it.  I wanted to slowly enjoy it and not rush through it like I did the first one.  I found myself really contemplating each chapter; and even now I find myself wanting to revisit the world of Chimaera when I become enthralled with waiting for book 3 impatiently. 
The characters in this story are rich and complex as they come.  It is hard not to wince at their pain, share in their happiness, and weep at their heartbreak.  Akiva has many warring natures inside him and yet he still finds himself trying to do what is right, even though he feels like he has lost everything.  
Karou is my heart and soul, character-wise.  She is broken in this book and slowly trying to make amends for what she feels is her fault.  And yet even through her guilt ridden thoughts, she still finds small comforts.  She is trying to become one person again even with the two personalities inside her.  Although she remembers her other life now, I still see her struggling to accept her life without Akiva, even though she blames him for so much.
While our protagonists are amazing characters and probably some of my most favorite ones in the literary world today; our antagonists are breathtaking as well.  They are dark, evil, and strangely seductive in their badness.  I detest Thiago but he does have a sexiness to him that I believe Taylor deliberately gives his character so we can see the dark allure he has over some of the Chimaera.  Then there is the Emperor of the Seraphim and his brother.  In all honesty, I really hate these guys more so than I do Thiago, even though I believe these evil Seraphim leaders have plenty in common with the white wolf.  
And of course I can't forget about the wonderful supporting characters of Zuzana and Mik.  I believe Zuzana has to be the comic relief in this dark and foreboding story.  She keeps Karou grounded to her human self even when it is so much easier to give in to her former Chimaeran self.  I love Zuzana to pieces and all of her quirky snarky comments really do add to this already emotionally written story.  
Besides strong characters to die for, the plot in this story is a strong thread that runs throughout the novel, keeping you focused on it no matter what.  Days of Blood and Starlight is a heavy, dark, and intense sequel that keeps you worrying that nothing is as it seems.  There is a lot of sadness in this story among all the battles, death, and war happening all around both sides.  But even during this time, you see small victories, small smiles and a small and fragile feeling: hope.  
I love how Taylor introduces us to many new characters but instead of bombarding us with so many that have very little to do with the main thread; each of these new identities we meet have an important part to play in this world.  
Of course, in Laini Taylor fashion it seems she loves leaving the reader gasping for breath, shocked at the sudden cliffhanger we are forced to deal with until the next installment rescues us from the horror of it all.  

I highly recommend you pick up this series.  It is the most beautifully well written prose I have every come across.  The world building as well as the character building is flawless and I just cannot find any fault with it at all.  
I am, however, spoiled to the audiobook.  The narrator, Kristine Hvam, is an amazing and talented vocal actress.  I am not really sure if that is what you would call it but in truth, I really think that is what she does.  She can do so many voices that they truly sound like something otherworldly definitely from another time and place.  Her voice of Brimstone is dark and gritty, though carrying a hint of warmness; while her voice of Zuzana is mischevious and mildly mocking.  I am so awestruck at this lady's vocals talents and I am so glad she is the narrator for this wonderfully enticing series.  
Like I said before:  these two together have gifted the literary world with a true magical present that we will never forget and will always cherish.

I give Days of Blood and Starlight five hearts and many many more!!!

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