Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Author: Laini Taylor

Publisher: Little, Brown Books

Release date: September 27, 2011

Rating: 4 stars – I REALLY ENJOYED IT!

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SYNOPSIS

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?

TREAD CAREFULLY DEARIES. SPOILERS MAY LIE AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.

This book was interesting. So very interesting and different. I was completely enthralled and captivated from the first page. Plus, who can ignore the sudden pique of interest at the opening line? ^^

Karou is an orphan. Sorta. She has a foster grandmother and lives in Prague, where she attends an art school. The only family she’s ever known are monsters – chimera. She lives a double life, having a seemingly normal life on one hand, but also running mysterious errands from Brimstone to inquire teeth. Yes, you read that right folks. Brimstone deals with an underground market that supplies teeth for him. Their purpose? Well, that’s a mystery to Karou. And it’s not the only one.

When scorched black handprints begin to appear on the doors to the chimera world, Karou doesn’t give it another thought until it proves to be too late. The handprints are made by seraphim who are set to end the age old war with the chimera. When Karou meets one of the angels who caused her to lose everything, she does not expect to become entangled in a forbidden romance nor does she expect to learn the truth about herself.

When I finished the novel two nights ago, I was completely surprised. I loved the beginning of Daughter & Smoke and Bone. Taylor’s writing style is beautiful with prose that just seeped through the pages. I could see the world through Karou’s eyes and I so desperately wished that I was an artist. Her drawings sounded beautiful and I wanted to see them physically for myself. It goes without saying that I really liked Karou. She was kind, strong, and brave. She loves her chimera family through and through and there isn’t anything or anyone that will stand in her way in order to save them.

Then there is the seraphim, Akiva who I deeply sympathized with. He’s very withdrawn and shields his true emotions. He’s a solider, trained from a very young age to fight the chimera. He’s ignorant. But there was a time where he believed that he could remake the world. Where he dreamed of peace. That is shattered when the love of his life is executed for treason. Akiva’s world is shattered after than and he goes forth and lives a life of vengeance. That is, until he lays eyes on Karou.

In my opinion, I thought that the love in this novel was well done. There was something drawing Akiva to Karou and he openly admits that to her. He doesn’t understand it, he just knows. Then there is Karou who is physically attractive to him. He is a fine specimen, being an angel and all. As they spend time together, Karou sees more in Akiva, and it is then that she discovers the truth of who she is; something she’s always wondered about.

It’s at this point where the story takes a twist. It wasn’t sudden, but it was my least favorite. Throughout the novel there was foreshadowing of a possible past between Karou and Akiva, though it was never fully explained. When Karou discovers who she is, who she was, we are thrust into the past. I liked reading about their shared past, the mystery surrounding the teeth Brimstone collects, and the inevitable demise of a shattered life. But I didn’t love it as much as I did the first half of the story. I don’t mean to say that it wasn’t important, because it was; offering an integral part to the story itself. I just feel like it could have been done differently, without having to delve chapters into that past and forget about the present.

The ending also felt a bit rushed. Maybe it was because I stayed away until 3 in the morning to finish, but I felt unsatisfied. I remember closing the book and just saying, “Well. Okay, then.” There are still so many unanswered questions like…what happened to Akiva? GAH– which is good – and I hope that they are given in the sequel.

These last two points are the reason why it’s a 4 star rating rather than a 5 star.

Not too focus too much on what I didn’t like, I will add that I absolutely loved the p.o.v’s. Karou and Akiva’s voice were completely different and there was never any doubt whose perspective I was reading. I also loved the foreshadowing and the mystery. It kept me on the edge of my toes, waiting for the answers.

I also liked the secondary characters. Zuzanna gave Karou’s life a semblance of normality. Her chimera family in Brimstone, Issa, and Twiga all showed an unconditional love towards Karou. They also offered the second half to the story as all stories have.

Lastly, I really liked the contrast of good and evil. I also liked that there were shades of gray because nothing is ever black and white.

Overall, this was a fantastic read! I highly enjoyed it and recommend it to fantasy and supernatural book lovers. I assure you that it’s nothing like you’ve ever read before. There is also an immense amount of folklore immersed into the Daughter of Smoke & Bone that I loved! Hopefully, I will be picking up the sequel, Days of Blood & Starlight soon!

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7 Comments

  1. 최다해 gongjumonica

     /  May 26, 2013

    Ahhh! I’ve been meaning to read this and its sequel, but had been distracted with others books and got busy lately. I didn’t know there’s an involvement of angels. I love angel stories!

    Reply
    • Yep! The angel factor is sort of a secondary plot line, but it is there. I hear that the sequel is more centered around the world and all. I’d definitely read it, Monica! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Sounds interesting… I have to see if it is available in my country.

    Reply
  3. I recently finished reading this book and loved it! It was completely not what I expected it to be and can’t wait to start the next one!

    Reply
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