Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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 o
therwordly 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 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
Pages: 418


  1. Thank you for that tease, now I'm dying to read it even more! Lol. I just keep seeing these awesome reviews for this one and I love the sound of it. I need to get myself a copy ASAP, I think! Anything magical and enchanting is something I can't pass up on. :) Great review!

    Rebecca @ Kindle Fever

  2. @Rebecca Haha, you are so welcome, Rebecca! I hope you can read it soon, it really is awesome and if it sounds like something you're interested in then I don't think you'll be disappointed! I do wonder if anyone at all has not loved it?! :-D

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. I absolutely adored this book as well! Like you, I felt like each setting really came to life and like I'd been there. I appreciated that each setting was a little unique from what I experience everyday. We all have a favorite local "haunt" but nothing like Karou's Poison. We've all watched a sunrise, but never atop a cathedral in Prague. We've all been to a busy market, but not one in Marrakesh. I love when books really take me away like that!

    I can't wait to return to the world Laini created and meet back up with Karou, Akiva, and the others!
    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

    1. Yes, that's exactly my feeling! Everything we know in some way or another became more extraordinary and new, thanks to such rich settings. :-D

      I can't wait until the sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight, is released...just 7 more months!!

  4. Around page 300, the story changes from Karou's present to her reliving someone's past, a chimeara named Madrigal. And this switch for me was like crashing back down to earth. I'd spent so much time just immersed in the story and that part I just couldn't get into. The best way I can come up with to describe it is like hearing a story two or three times removed. One of those things where "you just had to be there." And so much of the rest of the ending of the book was that way. I didn't feel like I got into it again until we were back in the present with Karou.

    1. I can understand that...but the point is that Madrigal IS Karou, they're her memories coming back to her, her past, and I actually really enjoyed that. I loved the twist and finding out the truth. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it too. I hope you plan to still give the sequel a go, and enjoy it better. :-)