Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor was one of the most hyped YA novels of 2011. Although curious, I was reluctant to read it because fantasy is not my preferred genre. After much encouragement by a publishing rep, I gave in and picked up the book.
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things. When Brimstone called, she always came.
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family.
Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” This fantastic beginning gives a glimpse into the storyline and draws you in right from the start. These opening lines are just one of my favourite quotes from this unique book. Indeed, Taylor’s writing is beyond imaginative and like nothing that I’ve ever read before. She succeeded in using mythology elements and rich imagery to create a dark and fascinating world. I loved being transported into a different world that some very interesting creatures (known as chimaera) call home. These creatures are half human, half animal, yet Karou considers them family. After all, they raised 17 year-old Karou before she moved into her own apartment in Prague to attend art school. With tattoos and blue hair, the mysterious Karou lives a secret life from her friends, often disappearing from them to run strange errands for the chimaera, including the collection of teeth. The secret of teeth, and many more unknowns are revealed slowly throughout the book. However, I must warn you that some parts (character and world building) do move a little slow, and can be a bit confusing to grasp, but when you finally figure out how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, it is amazing.
Although this book is catalogued as a Young Adult book, the writing is detailed enough to appeal to an older audience. The historical and mythology aspects are so detailed that the reader must give their full attention and not be distracted in any way to absorb the story fully. I found myself having to go back to re-read some parts, so I’m sure that if I read the book again, I would pick up on stuff I missed. As I mentioned before, fantasy doesn’t usually appeal to me, but this book has a little bit of everything, including: fantasy, action, romance, and mythology. I truly hate to compare this book to Twilight (because Daughter of Smoke and Bone is SO much better) but I do feel that fans of Twilight would also love this book. There is that aspect of a Romeo/Juliet romance, strange creatures, an ancient war, and folklore.
Clearly, Karou’s story is not over because Daughter of Smoke and Bone ends with twists and surprises in the epilogue. There are so many unanswered questions for both Karou and the reader. The ending is just the beginning, and I can’t wait to read the sequel. In this book about love, peace, and the magic of hope, I leave you with my favourite quote:
“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
More Praise for Daughter of Smoke and Bone:
“Author Taylor has created a variety of worlds, time frames, and creatures with such detail and craft that all are believable…Readers will look forward to the suggested sequel to this complex, exciting tale.” (Booklist )
“[A] breath-catching romantic fantasy about destiny, hope and the search for one’s true self” (The New York Times Book Review )
“Thrillingly fresh and new” (Entertainment Weekly )