Sunday, August 4, 2013

Book Review | Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
September 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
424 pages
Amazon + Good Reads
4/5 stars

"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?"

-Good Reads

This book is... different, simply put. We're introduced to Karou - a young art student in Prague who has no idea who she is. She fills her sketch books with exquisite drawings of seemingly fictional mythological creatures... but who are actually real and are the only family she has ever known. When something unthinkable happens to her adoptive family of "monsters" - as Karou lovingly calls them - Karou is cast into an other worldly and age old conflict. 

First and foremost, Laini Taylor is a beautiful story teller. Much like Paris in Anna and the French Kiss, Taylor is able to make Prague feel like a character and active presence in Daughter. The city feels magical and her descriptions were so vivid that I could imagine the scenes playing out, movie style. Her characters were incredibly well developed - even after a few pages, I could feel that they were more than a typical cardboard YA cut out of a character. 

Laini Taylor just writes in a... vivid way. Does that make sense? 

And what I loved most is the richness of her story. It is abundantly clear that she has thought this story out - past just the first book - and has an epic story to tell. Underneath Karou's story is that of an age old struggle between angels and demons that feels well developed and lore-rich. I love any story that has a history and lore behind it (probably the reason why I love World of Warcraft as much as I do, truth be told...) - and Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a perfect example of that.

There was only one reservation I have about this book... In the last third of the story, a huge revelation is revealed about Karou and I just don't know how I feel about it. I'm not entirely sure how Laini Taylor is going to marry the character of Karou that we know and this new aspect of her... but I'm going to have to trust her. 

That being said, I don't think that this book is for everyone. If you are a fan of fantasy or have the same love of lore that I described before, I think that you should give this book a try. I'm excited to see where Karou goes in the sequel.

Have you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone? Please let me know your thoughts - I've heard so many mixed things! 

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