In the second part of Days of Blood and Starlight, Karou and Akiva are struggling with friendships while navigating enemy territory – and, slowly but hopefully surely, coming closer back together. Physically, anyway…
Spoilers follow for chapters 28-47.
This section of the book felt like taking a bit of a breather, a chance to stretch between emotional workouts, if you will. Which is good, because holy hell, my emotions are getting swole over here.
With Friends Like These
Secondary characters are catching up to the train wreck of a journey our protagonists are on in this section, and I feel like this is both good and bad. Let’s take Karou, first of all.
Zuzana turns up at the kasbah, ably assisted by her sweetheart Mik (who really is a sweetheart, I kind of love him) – and by ‘ably assisted’ I mean he basically has to carry her up a hill after she does battle with heat stroke and pretty much loses.
Zuzana, you are perky and fierce and I love you but YOU DID NOT THINK THIS ONE THROUGH, SUGARPLUM.
But! She’s finally reunited with Karou, who now has the nerve-wracking task of keeping her safe from Thiago and his mob while also trying to preserve her own self. Life is not a party for Karou right now, and while I maintain that she really did get herself into this, I’m not entirely without sympathy, and so it does my heart glad to see her back together with her best friend. Goodness knows she needs someone friendly right now.
Then there’s Akiva, and his own questionable allies/best friends, Liraz and Hazael. I’m a little less inclined to squishy hug these two, mostly because Liraz would probably rip my arms off. But … I won’t lie. I have feelings for that spiky flower-munching badass, now. I can’t help it. I am absolutely eating up the inner party conflict, if you will, between this trio. It’s clear that Akiva’s friends want to support him, but more than that they want to understand him, and he is being very very confusing to them right now. Their upbringing did not leave much room for soft fluffy feelings, and so of course they’re struggling in this regard. Liraz especially, who it turns out may have her own problems to deal with if these events are any indication.
Jael. Fuuuuuuck, what a creep.
Actually, let’s talk about him for a moment, because beyond shuddery reactions I’m not sure what to make of him. I am pretty sure he would still be a creep even without the disfiguring facial damage, so part of me can’t help wondering why that was necessary…? Am I wrong and is it the scarring that turned him into a cold, unfeeling king of creepers, or did the creeper in fact come first?
Either way, I’m side-eyeing him a bit here. More so, the implication that Liraz is at risk of, er, gaining his attention simply because she happens to be present in camp, and female. I mean, it’s stated outright by the man himself that if soldiers are all that’s available to him during his visit, he’ll “make do”.
I am definitely not all right with that. Less so, given the apparent fact that, for all intents and purposes, Liraz is asexual. We don’t hear this from her own lips, so much – it’s during Akiva’s internal monologue that we get this tidbit of information – but still. If it’s true, it just makes the threat more icky.
Please do not do this, Book. I’m serious, just don’t. Even if I didn’t identify as ace myself, it would strike me as wrong. Creepy, wrong, exploitative and WRONG.
Just no. There are plenty of ways to put Liraz in danger and sow more personal conflict for Akiva that don’t involve sexually abusing her, and I’m not here for that. I’m just not.
Who Needs Enemies?
So there’s danger on all sides, personal stakes being raised, and seemingly no way out for either of our exasperating heroes – but, in a nice little moment of full-circleness, Akiva ventures into enemy territory (apparently by following a returning scout that he may or may not have helped to torture?) and discovers that Karou is in fact still alive.
- MY HEART.
- Seriously, what is/was the deal with that thurible at the start of the book? If it doesn’t contain Karou’s soul, who left it there and why? Was it her? Thiago? Someone else I haven’t accounted for? WHAT IS GOING ON.
Questions, questions, everywhere.
Still don’t trust Thiago even a little bit. In case that was not bleeding obvious. Karou. KAROU. TAKE YOUR FRIENDS AND GET OUT OF THERE. Seriously. Reaching out to Akiva cannot be worse than continuing down the path she’s on. But, I know. Trying to correct course now might be what gets her killed, and AUGH I CAN’T. I CANNOT.
My babies. My poor rock-brained beautiful babies. MUST PROTEC.
I have to keep reading. See you next week…