Taylor, Laini. Daughter of Smoke & Bone (2012). Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 448 Pages. $12.00
Daughter Of Smoke & Bone | Book One
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 grows 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 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?
Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Kaoru had no sinister premonitions about the day. It seemed like just another Monday, innocent but for its essential Mondayness, not to mention its Januaryness. It was cold, and it was dark – in the dead of winter the sun didn’t rise until eight – but it was also lovely. The falling snow and the early hour conspired to paint Prague ghostly, like a tintype photograph, all silver and haze.
Once upon a time, a little girl was raised by monsters.
But angels burned the doorways to their world, and she was all alone.
Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone
I have this online friend from Chicago. I’ve known her for nearly 10 years now, and we talk a lot, about important things and silly things. In 2012 she sent me a Christmas present. I didn’t get it, and was heartbroken, because she knows me so well and sends me such lovely gifts. Upset by the fact that I would never see the one-of-a-kind presents, or the book she had chosen, she packed a replacement present. It arrived, and I was thrilled. Four months later, just after my birthday, the first package arrived.
I found myself with two copies of Daughter of Smoke & Bone as well as some lovely other things (including a pair of origami crane earrings.) So, because she had loved it enough to send it to me not once, but twice, despite the fact that it is not a book I would have chosen (I do not know why, only that I looked at it multiple times and never chose to buy it) I read it.
And I loved it.
To quote a friend of mine, who just recently read it:
I think you said you had that book… Daughter of Smoke & Bone, have you read it? I just started it last night and I’m almost done with it already. It’s kind of fanfictiony, and I suspect the main characters might be borderline mary sues, cause everyone is just oh-so-goth-pretty but I am really liking it and it’s a fast read. (I can’t tell if it’s pleasure or guilty pleasure.) Akiva is so cute.
The world crafting is really good in this book, if I’m saying that right. You know what I mean. The writer makes really vivid images in your head, I feel like I’m watching a movie. Man I love books.
I put that in there both because when I asked her if she wanted to help she said I could just use her chat comments as-is ( ♥ you, Anna), and also because she summed it up really nicely.
It is a fast read, with a steady but quick pace. The plot progresses well, and though it moves along, it doesn’t feel rushed. Time is still spent on the world, and the necessary world-building. I don’t want to go too in depth on that, because if you have not read it, then to go too detailed will take away some of the pleasure of discovering it as you read.
The writing is vivid, lyrical, flowing, any number of nice words can be used to describe it. It reads well. The flow is smooth and enjoyable. When Taylor describes things, she does so with the right amount of detail, bringing to mind vivid imagery, letting you see her world as you read it.
Karou is the main character, a girl who reads like a mary sue in the best of ways. She’s strong, beautiful, and smart, she’s got her crazy blue hair (which grows in that way) and a mysterious past. Despite all of this, she remains relatable, and as a reader it is very hard to not like her.
And Akiva… there is so much about him that I love. He’s a great character in his own right, and his story just gets deeper and deeper as the series continues. I don’t want to dwell on him too much here, again for fear of saying something that takes away the magic of discovery.
That is a huge factor in this book, too. The whole series. It’s got this great plot that’s clearly been all mapped out by the author, and as it meanders back and forth and loops and twists and doubles back, the pieces come together and you discover that it really is a great book.
I loved it. I hope if you’ve read it you loved it as much as me, and if you haven’t… remember, it was good enough that I was gifted it twice.
It gets 5/5 and a suggestion that you hurry up and read it, since the whole trilogy is out and you don’t need to worry about cliffhangers.