I had mixed feelings about Daughter of Smoke and Bone; I love Laini Taylor's writing (her Faeries of Dreamdark were excellent), and I loved the world she created, but I wasn't in love with the Romeo-Juliet fatal love story.
I did like it enough to venture on the sequel, and I'm glad I did. Taylor's writing is the kind of lush, gorgeous writing that stays with you for days. Even though many sequels suffer by comparison with the first, I thought the sequel here was equally strong in terms of plot--and I actually liked it better than the first novel. That's not to say it was a fun read. Or an easy one. The world that Akiva and Karou find themselves in is grim and bloody.
Days of Blood and Starlight opens with Akiva once more serving with the other Misbegotten and meditating on the nature of mercy--if one is faced with a choice of life or death, how does one who's been raised his whole life to seek death embrace life, and embrace mercy? Meanwhile, his hands are covered with the blood of the chimera he's commanded to hunt down. Akiva thinks Karou is dead, slain with most of the rest of her people.
Of course, Karou is *not* dead (I don't think this is a spoiler--no one would expect Taylor to kill off her leading lady in the middle of the series). Instead, she's holed up in a castle in the desert in our world with a few surviving chimera, including the Wolf who ordered her execution in a previous life. Karou has taken Brimstone's place as the resurrectionist, constructing an army of Chimera to fight against the flood of angels.
But the Wolf is not out to save his people--he's out for blood, and before long Karou and Akiva once more find themselves in the midst of a bitter, bloody battle.
It's hard to say what I love most about this book: the vivid prose or Taylor's ability to put her characters through wrenching, devastating circumstances and still let their humanity (if this is even relevant for a chimera and an angel!) shine through. The characters--even the villains--are complicated creatures capable of surprising you. This is the kind of story that stays with you for days--even weeks--after reading it.