This past weekend I finished my re-read of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor. As you may recall, our Book Club read the first book as our January read and it had sort of mixed reviews from our group.
Fair warning, in case you didn’t pay attention to the title, there are SPOILERS AHEAD!
I’m in the camp of firmly loving the series, and I discovered in my re-read that there were things I had completely forgotten about until they started to happen, so that actually made the re-read even more enjoyable. Here are a few of the highlights that stood out to me during my deep dive back into the world of angels and chimaera:
- One of the book club complaints about the first book was the insta-love aspect of the first book. While I do understand that from Karou’s side, her feelings for Akiva are pretty inexplicable until the big reveal at the end of the first book, those who weren’t too keen on the relationship angle would probably like Days of Blood & Starlight better, since for the first 3/4 of the book the two main characters aren’t “on screen” together.
- Laini Taylor’s writing and world building is so immersive and fun as the reader. She is definitely an author who believes in showing, not just telling.
- Everything was terrible for a while there, man. War is hell, and these characters did not have an easy time of things for a long part of the books.*
- Sticking with the “war” theme – no one is having a good time, here. (Well. Almost no one.) There is conflict on both sides surrounding the “why” and necessity of the ongoing fighting and plotting. It’s such an important “no one really wins in a war” theme – it’s nice to see an author consider how even on the side that may appear to be “winning” there is conflict and unhappiness about the necessity of the fighting.
- Holy Cow does Laini Taylor love a cliffhanger ending.
- Zuzana gets all the good lines. I love her friendship with Karou. I love how when the truth was revealed to her she sort of went, “…. okay, then.”
Zuzana: “You are a conniving, deceitful hussy. I stand in awe.”
Karou: “You’re sitting.”
Zuzana: “I sit in awe.”
- Not everything gets wrapped up in a neat, perfect bow.
There’s one big “but,” here: *The conflict resolution for the series felt a little too easy. For as fraught as everything was, for how in-danger as everyone was, the “bad guy” got his comeuppance a little too easily. Granted, Taylor did artfully explain the how and why of that, in the last couple of chapters, when (in the style of Sarah J. Maas) everything got a little bit terrible for our main couple for a hot minute, it just felt… a little too easy.
And for some reason, it really irked me that no one (I’m looking at YOU, Zuzana) took a minute to look at each other and say, “Uh – really? Just like that, huh?”
At the end of the day – the series as a whole is a 4/4.5 star read for me. I can see how some of the Book Club didn’t love the first book, but it’s a lot of character development and world building that really gets where it’s going in book 2 when the two different sides get lengthy stretches to plan and the reader finds out more about the different motivations.
For those of you that have re-read a loved series – did your re-read live up to your memory, or did you change your position? For this particular re-read, I still love the same characters and despite some minor faults in the story I really, really love these books. Let’s talk about the series or your favorite re-reads in the comments below!
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