Days of Blood and Starlight
In the first volume, Taylor established her heroine’s stubbornly independent intelligence with exemplary speed. Here, she nearly squanders that accomplishment.
Taylor has set herself an unreasonable task: the problems of a trilogy’s middle book are well known, but to these she has added the problem of a depressed protagonist. Karou is weirdly passive and pointless through these days of blood and starlight, as she obeys the orders of a leader she despises in the service of a cause she mistrusts and to which she is indispensable. She used to be BlueKarou@HitherAndThitherGirl.com, standing athwart the Charles Bridge in Prague and shouting “stop” to a legion of angels, but now she sits in her room and does as she is told. She has every right to be depressed, but it’s not nearly as much fun to watch – and even less fun since we know where this is leading and we’re going to have to wait some months more for the final volume to appear.
The first volume seemed clearly intended as a response to Pullman’s His Dark Materials. This volume raises doubts. Pullman’s The Subtle Knife is about childhood’s end, the discovery that you cannot rely on either your parents or your faith or your friends. This volume seems the conventional middle passage of a romance.