If you remember from last year, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and its second, Days of Blood and Starlight, made it to my absolute favorite 2013 book list.
I read it because I was researching an agent to query to who stated she wanted someone who wrote like that. Holy S- is what I said quite often while reading it. Along with a lot of pleading. Make it stop. Talk about brutal with the most purest little glimpse of beauty and hope. You know that it ends- that beauty. Author is clear: Once upon a time, an angel and a demon fell in love. It did not end well. But you are not prepared for how it ends, and what comes after is the miracle and the horror both.
This isn’t a romance, it isn’t a horror story, and it’s not a fairy tale. It is old style fantasy saga. Nothing’s neat and tidy. Bad things happen that don’t just go away. There’s a war going on and you feel what it must be like to be born into such a thing. There is depth that you sink straight into. I can’t remember the last time I got sucked into a novel as though I were inside it. I could envision every scene and other-world place. Writing was excellent. Characters were different and varied (HA!) and completely individual.
If they could have a theme song, this would be it. Minus the cheating aspect, because that’s not the type of betrayal that occurs:
This describes the tone.
Yea, I absolutely did not query that agent. Sure, I could find a lot of similarities, but there was no way I was going to diminish the author by declaring I’m just like her! It’s what helped pushed me towards self-publishing. I’m not playing that game, who do I write like, who’s fame do I want to ride on?
So I went straight into book two, Days of Blood and Starlight.
All things holy, I’m going to cry. War is real, and it’s brutal, and sometimes, its casualties live, and do things against their better selves. You read, praying for the hope you get glimpses of, because that is the most precious and frail thing possible: a tiny glimmer of hope when things are otherwise as wrong as they can be. You are not at all certain hope has any chance. The characters are no longer characters. They’re at their low points, and you love them even more. There’s strength and beauty in desolation, and I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen or how or when. Completely on edge.
Book three came out in April, and I was not ready to dive back in. Last week, I started re-reading the series from the beginning, and the re-reading makes it even better, even more tragic and brutal and beautiful. I LOVE the main characters. Love them love them love them. And I think this series has just usurped Les Mis as my favorite book of all time. The intricacies of the story, the layers upon layers, the detail, and the imagination. There was maybe divine- or demon led- musing here. I bet it was The Shadows That Live.
It’s a combination of LOTR, Romeo and Juilet, and How to Torture Your Readers and Make Them Love You For It.
I want to stare at her author page and repeat More. More. More. More.
Again, this isn’t a romance. Saying there’s a love story is somewhat laughable as well as true. It’s not just a series for women. I think male readers will be swept up in it as well. I got into a debate last week about wizards and what they wear to battle. Know what, wizards are now obsolete. Armor won’t save them. Fear the angel. Love the demon.
That’s one of the things I loved about this story: she twists your perceptions of good and bad, beautiful and ugly. The second I can’t say or I’ll spoil the book, but it’s an absolute favorite belief. Third, she made it real. Every single choice has consequences, even love. And last, I had no idea where the story would go. Surprises and twists and turns all along the way. It could not have been written any better.
Holy. Freaking. Crap. was my parting thought.