Audiobook Review: Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

20 11 2012

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, Bk. 2)

Read by Khristine Hvam

Hachette Audio

Length: 15 Hrs 25 Min

Genre: Fantasy

Quick Thoughts: Days of Blood & Starlight left me totally breathless. Taylor creates her worlds with poetry, twisting our perceptions of the genre with each word, creating something both comfortable and unique with a magician’s touch. Fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bones will not only have their anticipations paid for with this novel, but they should be totally blown away.

Grade: A

I have a bit of a bone to pick with Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Earlier this year I took part in the Armchair Audies, listening to all three of the speculative fiction categories, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal. For the event, you were to listen to your categories, and choose who you feel would be the winner. So, I undertook this task, listening to 10 Audie nominated books, having already listened to 6 of the nominees before they were announced, within a few months. I put a lot of effort and thought into my picks, and I pretty much nailed it. Well, nailed it in two of the categories. In the fantasy category, I had predicted that Jonathan Carroll’s Land of Laughs would win for a multitude of reasons. While it wasn’t my favorite of the lot, I thought it would be the one that most resonated with the judges, plus, having the backing of audiobook and fantasy legend Neil Gaiman. Looking back, I really should have realized how off base I was. I let myself get caught up in the bells and whistles of the awards program without thinking of the emotional resonance. I enjoyed all of the entries in that category, but months later, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, despite some small quibbles, probably stuck with me the most. Add to that the beautiful and haunting performance by Khristine Hvam, in the clear vision of hindsight, it should have been an obvious choice.

Karou, now aware of her own tragic past finds herself at the center of a millennium old war that could determine the fate of two worlds. Stripped of her family and betrayed by her love, Karou must balance the needs of her people with her desired for peace and a normal life. I have to admit, despite how much I enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I was a little hesitant to start Days of Blood & Starlight. While I found the beginning of Daughter of Smoke and Bone to be brilliant, and Karou a wonderful character, I found the second half of the novel, a sort of otherworldly Romeo and Juliet tale, to be less engaging. Not being a huge romance fan contributed a lot to this. Add to this, the fact I struggled to get back into the story at the beginning of the book. This often happens to me in with second books in multi-character exotic fantasies, especially when I have listened to and read around 100 books between. What I had no problem getting into was Laini Taylor’s writing style. Days of Blood & Starlight is beautifully written. Taylor writes like the best lyricist, creating musical poetry with her words, creating her world with a sweep of aching magic. It has a way of being both melancholy and uplifting like only the greatest songs can. There were moments were the poetry infused story telling gave me chills, even before I was totally sold on the story. Luckily, after finding my place within the story and properly reintroducing myself to the characters, the story captured me. Captured me totally. Days of Blood & Starlight is part military fantasy, part romantic tragedy and with a dash of portal fantasy, all blended into a unique cautionary tale of death, war and xenophobia. It contains many classic themes of fantasy and science fiction, blended into something utterly unique and engaging. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, but at some point I fell in love with this tale, affecting me in an exponentially greater way than Daughter ever did. What made the experience even better was the wonderfully executed ending, with brilliant twists that opens up so much potential for the next entry in this series. Days of Blood & Starlight left me totally breathless. Taylor creates her worlds with poetry, twisting our perceptions of the genre with each word, creating something both comfortable and unique with a magician’s touch. Fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bones will not only have their anticipations paid for with this novel, but they should be totally blown away.

I’m not sure if I can adequately portray just how wonderful a performance Khristine Hvam gives with this book. There were moments where the combination of her narration and Taylor’s words simply gave me chills, and I am not one prone to chills. The narration was so perfect she even got me to laugh out loud during the Author’s dedication page, which, in all honesty, I often find kind of strange in audiobooks. Whatever special form of magic Taylor is infusing her words with, Hvam captures with her own sort of vocal magic. The world Taylor has created is so exotic, full of strange characters and it is all presented to us in vivid detail through Hvam’s voice. Whether it’s the slight purr of a feline Chimeara, the angelic yet sadistic tones of a cruel Seraphim, or the beautifully rendered Eastern European accents of Karou’s best friend, all the characterizations were just spot on. Her pacing was luxuriously musical, finding the poetry rhythms of Taylor’s writing with ease. I even enjoyed the little musical touches that Hachette added to the production. They were simple yet effective, giving the production a fairy tale tone. If you are in anyway trying to decide between print and audio for this novel, I highly recommend you give the audio version a listen. You won’t be disappointed.

Note: Thanks to Hachette Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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3 responses

20 11 2012
DeAnna (@SacredmOOn1)

Amazing review! I have the first audiobook of this series on my to-be-listened shelf right now. 🙂 I’m anxious to purchase this one and then I’ll be able to listen to them back-to-back.
DeAnna Schultz

20 11 2012
Tanya Patrice

I’m so jealous that you got to listen to this already 🙂 I loved the audiobook for Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and I’m going to wait and listen to the audio of this too now after seeing your review.

27 12 2012
My Top 20 Audiobooks of 2012 « The Guilded Earlobe

[…] My Review […]

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