Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor

418 pages
Published September 27th 2011 
by Little, Brown & Company

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. 

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. 

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. 

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out. 

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? (Goodreads summary)

I really enjoyed this book. An exceptional amount actually. It possesses all of the elements I look for in a novel. A young girl (Karou) searching for answers and the truth behind who she is--a path of self discovery. A young man (Akiva) who is not quite human but is entirely swoon worthy. A forbidden romance. Rich characters. And a quick paced plot. These are all elements that make it great, but it is the uniqueness that makes it fantastic.

I love a good young adult novel as much as the next person (well, I suppose I should say the next person who likes young adult novels), but there are times when they can fall into the category of seen before. Don't get me wrong, even if seen before, they can still be great. However, when I encounter a book that is not like the seen before, it is refreshing and sets itself apart. This book is similar in essence but so different in actuality.
It is set in Prague, which that alone sets the stage with completely different props. And as I have had the pleasure of visiting Prague, I felt like I could accurately envision Karou's world. Except, Prague is just the starting point. We are taken to many different locations that are richly described. And though they were places I have never been, I still felt like I could see them, hear the noise, and smell the scene. 

Then there is the story. It starts off on an interesting foot--a drawing class and mysterious wishing stones--and continues down that path until the last gripping page. I wasn't bored for a moment. And come page 250 (when you read it, you will understand what I mean) it became torture to have to put it down. As I read mostly on my commute to and from work, I actually found myself wishing for extra el stops so I could keep reading. 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone tells the story of a battle between creatures called Chimaera (who I imagine look something like this handomse fella from Pan's Labyrintheand the Seraphim (who I imagine looking uneartlhy beautiful). Laini Taylor portrays them in a way that veers away from your typical good verse evil, heaven verse hell. We are given two sides to a war where we are unsure who to root for and who to blame. This is the main question we face along side Karou as she discovers who she is and where she has come from. (And falls in love--of course.) 

The story is unique, complex, and fascinating. The world that is created takes time to understand, but is worth soaking up every last detail. It isn't a quick read. There is no skimming the pages of this one. The beautiful descriptions and even times hilarious remarks are worth the time. And, there is no guessing what is going to happen.  At times, it is obvious that was what was destined to happen, but the obvious doesn't matter, what is on the page does.

From the characters, to the voice, to the setting, to the world building, this is a book worth reading. I fell in love with this bizarre book and its abnormal characters. It is definitely an adventure worth going on. Be prepared for your heart to race, hands to sweat, your mind to spin and your heart to swoon. 

Pack light, it is quite the journey.


  1. Lovely review! I also really enjoyed this one :)

  2. These characters are so well thought out and because their backgrounds are shrouded in dark secrets, I wanted to unlock every mystery this book held within. I love how the present and past entertwined in this book. Everything came together effortlessly as the story switched back and forth to give readers a glimpse into the characters' past and present.


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