Sunday, December 18, 2011

Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor


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?


Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first book in a new(ish) series by Laini Taylor. This is a fantasy story about a teenage girl named Karou, who attends an art school in Prague. She lives a fairly lonely existence. The only people she has in her life to call family are Chimaera, otherwise known as monsters.

I really don't know how to rate this book. It's wonderfully written and imaginatively creative. This world is different from any I have read about in any other book. On the other hand, I felt bored a lot of the time. It was just slow moving for me. Also, I suppose that I am not really into mythical creatures in the way that I'm interested in the paranormal. Sometimes I wonder, what's the difference? I'm not sure what line divides the mythical genre from the paranormal. I supposed the attraction to paranormal is the fact that these creatures are often considered beautiful or sexy. I just can't feel myself connect with a character that has antlers and hooves on their otherwise human looking form. Oddly enough, I can connect with characters who turn furry every full moon. But...moving on...

Karou leads a sad life. She is really nothing more than an errand girl for her guardian, Brimstone. She is sent on dangerous and/or illegal missions at her young age, which can make a girl feel uncared for. She doesn't really feel like she has a choice though, so she lives her days running “errands” while trying not to get too close to other humans. It's not a life that I would want to lead, but Karou is more brave and outgoing than I am. Her potential love interest isn't introduced until about half way through the book if I remember right (but don't hold me to that, I got done reading this book a couple of days ago and facts flee my mind rather quickly). Akiva notices Karou and is quickly intrigued by her, but also considers her to be the enemy. During their first encounter, they try to kill each other. I mean, really, who doesn't love that? It wouldn't be interesting if it was all sunshine and rainbows from the beginning, would it? I love seeing how the dynamic changes from trying to kill each other, to being attracted to one another.

A lot of the characters in this book were just bizarre to me, so I had trouble relating. I did really, really like Karou and Akiva though. These are great characters. Throughout much of the book, Karou is trying to figure out who and what she is. Nobody will answer her questions about how she ended up with the Chimaera – it's sad to not know where you came from. Akiva has this ice cold outer shell, but it melts away around Karou.

As the book goes along, the mystery and intrigue grow. Not until I got toward the end, did I realize how wonderfully written this book is. Once you see how things fit together, you'll be in awe. Then, you're hit with a frustrating cliffhanger ending. So, how to rate this book? The first half, I would give 3 stars. The last ¼ or so, I would give 5 stars to - so I think I will meet in the middle and go with 4. I am very interested to see how this story plays out, and am looking forward to the second book in this series.

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1 comment:

  1. On one of her errands for Brimstone, Karou finds herself directly in the path of the angel, Akiva. These angels are the sworn enemies of the chimera and have been at war with them for hundreds of years. Akiva is torn by his urge to attack Karou and at the same time protect her. It turns out, Akiva is haunted by the memory of Madrigal, who at one point had almost made him believe things could be different and Karou reminds him of this lost love.