This could have been a five-star read were it not for a slight case of Second Book Syndrome. The first symptom showed up right near the beginning when Akiva overdosed on Stupid Pills and drew a drastic conclusion based on zero real evidence. Because plot! Karou got hold of the Stupid Pill bottle and downed the rest of them before making some key decisions, also because plot. I'm still in love with Laini Taylor's writing, but I guess sometimes she can't resist the pull of writer's convenience. But aside from that, an over-reliance on italics, and my occasional desire to throw a brick at Zuzana's head, there isn't much to complain about here. (Don't worry, they're foam Hollywood bricks. I don't want to kill her, or even hurt her. Maybe just see her flinch.)
This book is brutal.
I'm talking cringing away from the page because what's happening is excruciating and you're not sure you want to see how it plays out but you have to keep reading because you can't not know kind of brutal. It is unrelenting, unforgiving, bleak, and heart-wrenching. War is ugly. The aftermath is even uglier. And oh, there were some sweet plot twists thrown in. Blood and starlight indeed. I can't do much gushing without getting spoilery, but I will say I may never look at angels the same way.
On to book three!