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? (summary from Goodreads)
You will get lost in the magic of Laini Taylor's world and never want to leave! Just the above summary alone offers a luscious glimpse. This one's definitely in the running for my favourite book of 2011.
Karou seems like your average seventeen year old art student. She spends time with her best friend, tries to avoid her cheating ex-boyfriend, draws amazing pictures of magical creatures - Issa, half-snake/half woman; Brimstone, part-man/part-ram/part-reptile - and runs errands as part of her job. However, Karou is anything but average. The creatures she draws are very real, known as Chimaera, and even raised her. And her job? To travel all over the world through magical doors collecting teeth for Brimstone's dwindling supply. Karou lives between two worlds, that of ours and that of Elsewhere, yet she has no idea how she came to live with the chimaera or what lies beyond the doors to Elsewhere. Nor does she realise that she is caught in the middle of a centuries old battle between the chimaera and the angels. When she comes face to face with one such angel, Akiva, who tries to kill her, Karou begins to learn things that leave her with more questions than answers. There's no denying that Karou and Akiva are drawn to one another for reasons they can't begin to grasp. He may have the answers she so desperately wants, and she may be the salvation he so desperately needs, but are they ready to face the truth?
I don't even know how to begin writing this review without either gushing or giving away too much. I'd heard nothing but awesome things about this book, so when it was released I grabbed it on the day, no second thoughts. The publishers had even adorned it with a sticker stating that if I didn't love it, I could get my money back. I admit, I did wonder. There's always the fear that my expectations will be too high and I won't enjoy it as much as everyone else has. Well, I needn't have worried - and I certainly won't be getting my money back! Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a phenomenal read that had me so hooked I started yelling when I realised it was going to end before I was anywhere near ready! It is, quite simply, perfect. A mix of magic, mystery, and romance, with a setting and atmosphere that comes to life, and characters you can't help but want more of.
I adored Karou. She had real spirit, and I spun through a multitude of emotions reading her journey. I enjoyed her humour; I shared her frustration and desperation at not having clear answers; I felt her affection for Zuzana and her chimaera family; and most certainly the intensity of her feelings for the somewhat broken Akiva. The relationship between Karou and Akiva is from the very first a clash, and if it were possible, the sparks between them would have set the pages on fire. The smoulder between the two is breathtaking, alighting with an explosion before simmering to a slow burn as they got comfortable with each other. I truly loved their story - especially how all of my favourite characters interconnected, like Zuzana, Brimstone, Razgut, and Akiva's siblings - and it's without a doubt one of the things I'm most looking forward to in future books.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is an immersive read. I was no longer simply reading a book in my room but living in Prague, visiting Morocco, getting to know Elsewhere. I feel like I've spent an afternoon enjoying goulash at Poison Kitchen, and as if I've strolled through the Jemaa el-Fna of Marrakesh trying to take it all in. There's such history to Elsewhere, and between the chimaera and the angels, that is so reflective of our own histories, you can't help but feel a connection to Taylor's characters. I also loved the beginnings of each part of the story, which had simple sentences that hinted at what had been and what was to come. Every time I reached that break, I'd take a deep breath and savour it...like I was preparing myself. Daughter of Smoke and Bone has stayed with me ages after I closed on that final page, as I keep thinking about Karou and Akiva, Karou's chimaera family members, and the angels, wondering what their fates will be in upcoming books. I got so lost in their lives and stories that I feel like I've left a part of myself behind. I can't wait to reacquaint myself with everything this series is and will be as it continues.
Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone is everything I hoped it would be and more. It's magical and enchanting, and it's about time you lost yourself in her words, if you haven't already!
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published date: 29 September 2011