Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Published by Hodder Paperback on August 5th, 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
"Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came."
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone weaves a compelling tale of forbidden love clashing with animosity, magic, and a small slither of hope. Between here and Elsewhere, a gentle soul is caught up in a war waged for eternities between two races of mythical creatures.
After a brief phase during adolescence, I thought I was done with angels for good, but then Laini Taylor came along and changed everything.
Karou – whose name means hope in Chimaera – is one of my favourite heroines of all times. She’s an idealist, yes. She’s witty and snarky, which is the ideal condition for me to connect with a protagonist. She’s an intelligent and curious character with a talent for the arts and a heart of courage, the latter sometimes attracting various kinds of troubles and sticky situations. She leads a life of independence, relishing her solitude and pursuing a career at an Art School, but she’s compassionate and loyal to a fault to the group of Chimaera that raised her. And nothing can solve life’s problems better than a little sarcasm. Akiva, on the other hand, is as stern as a statue, the opposite of Karou’s compassionate idealism. His motivations aren’t always transparent for the reader, but I warmed up to him soon enough. He’s a fierce and stubborn character, with visible as well as invisible scars. Deep down he’s a wrecked soul, deeply wronged. His suffering – loss and torture – changed him and nurtured the bottomless hatred for his enemies. The supporting protagonists – Zuzana, Mik, Liraz and Hazael – are a diverse group of characters who’re all badass for different reasons. Zuzana, most of all, is the best friend and sidekick of all times; a character who doesn’t vanish from the stage as soon as the romantic subplot commences, but who remains an important figure throughout the series as a source of support, solace, and dark humour.
The romance. Yes, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the romance, though I enjoyed both Karou and Akiva as individuals. Although I wouldn’t describe it as insta-love, I’d say there’s an immediate pull between the two, but I guess this can be logically explained. What I thought was well done is the balance between physical rejection, as the two fight epic battles over the rooftops of Prague, and attraction. Like magnets, Karou and Akiva feel drawn to each other while their behaviour is repelling on the outside.
The plot runs in parallel times, in the present but interrupted by glimpses of another time, another world, another young girl trying to find her place in the world. As the plot progresses, the two narratives are destined to meet. This, however, worked only partially for me personally. View Spoiler » Karou’s and Madrigal’s personalities blending together as one didn’t work for me because I had already gotten attached to Karou as a distinctive character by that point. Although, it was quite predictable that this was going to happen, I must admit. « Hide Spoiler I’d say Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a lot slower than its sequel, but I was hooked from start to finish nonetheless. The world-building is incredible in its detail and the beautiful writing rich with metaphors, transferring Taylor’s vivid imagination perfectly across the pages.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is mythology meets romance meets otherworldly war. I was fully immersed in this enchanting world Laini Taylor created with a vivid imagination and beautiful prose. I’d recommend this to anyone who loves a captivating fantasy along with a good romance.