I managed to power through a bad reading slump that has kept me reading only two books in two months to read this book and complete my Goodreads reading challenge for the year. Today I’m here to share my thoughts on Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Paperback: 418 pages
Published: September 27, 2011
Synopsis: 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?
This story is just so unlike anything I’ve ever read. There are so many things that need addressing. We’ll begin with characters.
As the synopsis states, we meet Karou. She’s very mysterious but also your typical teenager who goes to school, has friends and relationships and studies. This surprised me going into the story. I was expecting fantasy and craziness straight off the bat but initially we’re introduced into a normal world of an adolescent girl. It was quite nice to see this side of Karou and then gradually get welcomed into the world of chimaera and angels. I found Karou to be quite headstrong and determined which I really enjoyed about her. She’s in the dark about her entire life so learning her backstory as a reader alongside her was a great way to get to know Karou’s character. She develops throughout and becomes more mature and knowledgeable as the story progresses. It was great to read.
We are also briefly introduced to some chimaera characters. These were absolutely fascinating and so imaginative. Chimaera are like human-animal hybrids. Karou’s family includes Brimstone, Yasri, Issa and Twigga. I honestly don’t know what to feel about them. I mean, I think I’m supposed to feel empathy and general nice feelings towards them but for now, I feel like I can’t trust them especially the more you learn about the world. Without spoiling you, Brimstone in particular felt very shady. But I did really love Issa because of her caring nature. We’ll have to see.
Akiva is our main male character. It was rather cliché to learn he was unbelievably attractive, mysterious and brooding, something you never see in male characters in YA (sarcasm). But I ended up of course loving him. In the beginning it was obvious he was meant to be untrustworthy but I knew that he was no real threat to Karou so I automatically started seeing the good in him. He was so sweet to Karou and protective and interesting. I loved the way he changed and grew to become a character so full of doubt and conflicting allegiance. It was so entertaining and tense.
Speaking of entertaining and tense; the plot. It was so different and addictive! But it’s also where my main problem with the book arose. I love the way the trope of angels was spun in a different direction and themes of war were introduced. This book was very much an introduction due to the fact that Karou had been kept in the dark for most of her life but when the plot took off I couldn’t stop reading. Akiva is really the one who kick starts it. He introduces so much intrigue and doubt. We follow identity, war, family, friendship and race storylines all the while wondering who to trust and which side of the war you’re on. However my problem was with the last hundred or so pages of the book. We come across a storyline that has to do with the past. I understand after reading it how important it is to the story but personally I found it such a struggle to get through because of how much of the book it took up. I felt like skipping ahead to the present but forced myself to stick with it. Eventually I learned to appreciate it more.
Can we talk about the writing for a second because honestly, it was absolutely beautiful. The way Taylor painted a scene and created witty dialogue and described beauty and culture was stunning. Here are some of my favourite passages.
“Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort. It was all those things, intertwined with the heat and the thrill, and it was as bright within her as a swallowed star.”
“He dropped the pretence, and dropped his head, so his brow came to rest against the sun-warmed top of hers. His arms went around her and drew her in, and Karou and Akiva were like two matches struck against each other to flare starlight. With a sigh, she softened, and it was pure homecoming to melt against him and rest.”
“Being near her was like balancing on a tipping world, trying to keep your footing as the ground wanted to roll you forward, hurl you into a spiral from which there was no recovery, only impact, and it was a longed-for impact, a sweet and beckoning collision.”
She created such a swoony romance (but the instalove was a little bit hard to stomach) just with her ability to string words together and character inner-dialogue. Truly beautiful. I loved the way she wove the story seamlessly and paced the book with just the right amount of calm.
Then there’s the world. Quite simply, there is nothing like this. Taylor created something special in this book. The imagination that went into the chimaera, I mean come on, all the mix-matching of animals was so fun to picture in your head. And the creativity with parallel universes and strange forms of magic and wishes made me have some serious writing envy. I wish ideas like this came to me! The angels were a wonderful addition and only added more colour to the story. And the creativity that came with the myths about the world, ugh don’t get me started.
Overall, a fantastic beginning to a very hopeful trilogy. Amazingly unique imagination and creativity. Big recommendation to fantasy lovers or anyone who wants something different and whimsical.
I gave Daughter of Smoke and Bone: 4.25 Stars.
Thank you so much for reading and I’ll talk to you in my next post!