Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor
Summary from Goodreads:
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?
This book is so highly praised that I was apprehensive when I started reading it. I’ve found some books that I loved thanks to the general consensus but I’ve also deviated from the norm, and I was terrified that I would dislike the book everyone else loves, which is never a fun feeling. While Daughter of Smoke and Bone was not an instant favorite, it was very good and I was pleasantly surprised.
Karou is a wonderful main character. She’s witty and strong, but also sometimes sulky and impetuous She really grows in confidence over the course of the book, which is saying something, since she doesn’t exactly start out as a low-confidence character. By the middle, I was actually beginning to worry that she was seeming a little too strong and perfect, but after learning her back story, her character made sense, and I could embrace it once more. She’s a great main character who really holds her own.
Akiva, the “Angel” in this “Angel and Demon” romance, is quite intriguing, to say the least. He’s the epitome of a soldier who’s become dead on the inside and tortured by his past, and you can practically feel his pain radiate off the pages. He’s the type of soul who just seems so broken and beat down by everything that’s happened, you can’t help but to root for him, even when he’s potentially an enemy.
The writing is this book just blew me away. The entire story has a mystical feel, even when it’s set in our world. I loved the introduction to the chapters. They were all short, full of impact, and relevant to the plot. The writing in this book is the type of writing that sucks you in and eventually seems like it disappears altogether. I never consciously felt like I was reading when I was reading this book. It felt more like someone telling a fairy tale or watching a play, and I love when authors are so good at disappearing from their own books that you just completely forget you’re actually reading.
The plot in this book isn’t terribly complex, but it is compelling. Most of the “twists” were easily spotted, but this only slightly inferred with my enjoyment. The back story becomes fairly obvious before it’s actually told, but despite that I was still racing towards the end because I had to be sure. I really like how Laini Taylor takes fairly well-used tropes and subverts them to make a story that feels completely new.
You can find Daughter of Smoke and Bone on Amazon.
Final Impression: This wasn’t an instant-favorite for me, but there are many things I loved about Daughter of Smoke and Bone, mostly the characters. This is a really unique story that compels you to want more, and I loved Karou. 4/5 stars.
I’m including this book towards my goal in the 2013 Feminist Reads challenge for it’s strong female protagonist.