Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Written by: Laini Taylor
Published: September 27, 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: Around the world, black hand prints 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 grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly 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 beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery 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?
I'll be honest, I never really planned to read this series. I know so many people love it but I just didn't think it was my thing. But I loved Strange the Dreamer and I heard this audio was really good so I decided to pick it up on an Audible sale ages ago. And finally this month I decided to give it a try (in secret in case I hated it) and I am so glad I did because it was amazing.
One thing I really loved about this book was the world-building. Laini Taylor is definitely the master of building a world that draws you in. Her writing is beautiful in the way it establishing a mysterious and atmospheric setting. In this series you first have the backdrop of Prague which in and of itself is unique and compelling, but then you add the underground of the magical creatures. I am not usually a fan of books about angels however I think here it worked. I think because I often forget that we were talking about angels. The seraphim just felt like one more magical creature that this world was built about. Speaking of magical creatures, the more interesting ones were the chimera. I was fascinated by characters like Brimstone and Issa, then eventually Madrigal in the flashback. It gave the book a really subtle Urban Fantasy feel to it which I really enjoyed.
As far as the plot goes, this definitely felt like it had some pretty serious first book syndrome. A lot of the book was just exposition. It seemed like it's main goal was to set up the future books. Which is fine for me because I decided to marathon the series but overall I think the book misses out on something because of that. I have heard some criticism from people about how they lost interest when the book began focusing on the flashbacks, but for me that was the best part. That was the part that interested me because that was the part that had plot implications for the series. But overall it did feel like two different stories, both of which were important but gave the book a disjointed feel.
But I think what redeemed things a bit for me was the characters. I really enjoyed the characters in this Book. First and foremost we had Karou. Karou is smart and quick-witted in the best possible way. She's tough and stands up for herself and the people she cares about in ways that will make you laugh and root for her at the same time. She's the kind of character that I always love reading about because she's so charming. But she's also mysterious. A lot of this book is about her figuring out who she is and how she fits into this world of chimera and seraphim. I was more than happy to figure that out with her.
The secondary characters however were maybe even more amazing. Karou's chimaera family were so interesting and I wanted to learn more about them which really drew me into the plot. I also really like Akiva. He's got a tortured past that could easily become cliche but it never does. And while I'm not fully committed to their relationship yet, I don't hate it. The idea of falling in love with an angel however star-crossed that love may be isn't something I usually enjoy but here I like the way it is developing at least. But the best character, without a doubt, is Zuzanna. Zuze is a tiny and fierce spitfire who is there for Karou no matter what and as a reader who is there as well she's very relatable. Plus she's just a total bright spot in what might otherwise be a pretty bleak book.
All in all, Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a fantastic read. I can see why so many people love this series and I am glad I took the time to read it. It has all the things that I love about YA fantasy. There's a unique and compelling world, interesting and likable characters, and a good story of personal development. I do wish there had been less exposition though.
I give Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor 9 out of 10 stars
Have you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!