(There will be spoilers in this review.)The Daughter of Smoke & Bone was one of my best reads earlier this year, so of course I was looking forward to the sequel quite a lot. My expectations were high, and thankfully, despite a lot of low points to the book, they were met. I’ll just get this out of the way now: Structurally, this book is kind of a mess. Instead of the POVs switching between Karou and Akiva, we now have additional characters who make an appearance in their own POVs. There are, at one point in the book, five characters who have their own POV chapters. This wouldn’t be so bad, but for a good chunk of the book, every chapter would switch between them to give us parts of the story. It resulted in a very cluttered and almost disjointed book. I understand the need for it, as the story did become much richer when we had those characters giving us their view of things, and the story isn’t just about Karou and Akiva anymore but about the chimaera and the seraphim and everyone else. But it was also very hard to really ease into the story, because just as I was getting a feel for Karou’s bit of it, it would switch to someone else very quickly because the chapters were so short. Thankfully, the last 150+ pages improve drastically, and it’s because we’re back to focusing mainly on Karou and Akiva. I did grow to care about the other characters (although one is very obviously there to be set up for the next book) but once Taylor reduced the switching POVs to just them again, the book was much easier to read. The pace, which had until then been lagging a little bit, picked up considerably as big things finally started happening. The majority of the book is a very character driven one and focusing on how these people are dealing with the consequences of their actions and the world around them, and while it’s not uninteresting, it was a little bit of a slog to get through. But honestly, the themes Taylor tackles in Days of Blood and Starlight are more than enough to make up for the messy structure of the book itself. How do you move past killing the family of the person you loved and being responsible for the near extinction of the chimaera? Should you be forgiven for it? Frankly I found it a little hard to sympathize with Akiva at times, even though he is clearly grieving and tortured for his decisions. I was glad that Karou didn’t immediately forgive him and move on, and that she was angry and lashed out and reacted in the ways a person would react. There are no easy answers in this book; it’s complicated, complex and layered. Taylor basically takes every trope in YA paranormal/fantasy romance novels and gleefully decimates them. It makes it worth the small irritation at the structure of the novel. I especially liked Karou’s growth as a character. She’s not the same person she was in the first book, and while it is heartbreaking to see how much rougher and stronger she’s become, it’s also realistic and well done. The way she’s used by characters around her and is so obviously out of her depth is hard to read about, because you want things to go well for her but they very clearly will not for some time. As well, the fact that she’s even in this position shows just how much she’s still mourning the loss of her family and, though she might not acknowledge it, mourning the loss of Akiva as well. I liked the inclusion of Mik and Zuzana and how the chimaera took to them; it was a nice, light hearted touch in the midst of a lot of dark themes and heaviness. I also like Liraz and Hazael in this book, and their relationship with Akiva. It seemed to me at times that they maybe got over the incident with Madrigal a little too easily, but their storyline was worth it that little niggle. The ending sets up a wonderful setting for the final book, and I can’t wait to read how everything will be resolved, given the game changing ending.