I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor
YA Fantasy
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

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?


This is a strange, magical story.  The setting and the mythology made it intensely atmospheric and I was completely drawn in by the vividness of the characters and their stories.  I feel like this book stands out from other YA fantasy books in the writing and the tone because there's such a maturity to the fantasy elements that made it feel unique and powerful.  This is a very intense and beautiful story.

I think I liked the world-building and what it was trying to accomplish more than I liked the main characters and their individual dilemmas.  That's probably a strange distinction.  It's just that by the time I found out what secrets lay in Karou and Akiva's past, I felt more concerned by what they were going to do to solve their problems against such overwhelming odds.  And of course this isn't solved in this book.  I understand why Karou and Akiva had such an instant connection, but their love story was a little overdone for me, and not as believable.  The book flips back and forth between their viewpoints (but it is mostly Karou's story) but it also flips in time through flashbacks which gave important backstories, but also felt a little long when I already knew the outcome of them.  The pacing slowed down for me for that reason near the end, just when I was eager to move forward.

But the world-building is glorious.  There are two magical creatures and an Elsewhere that I loved learning more about.  The dynamics of these two races of beings and their conflict felt very authentically constructed and gave this story it's intensity and beauty.  Humanity is completely overshadowed by the other world in a way that makes me think this series should be high fantasy instead of YA.  Definitely Karou is revealed to have a past that makes her feel more mature.

The supporting characters in this book also helped to make it a wonderful read.  I loved Karou's eccentric family and her closest friend.  Brimstone had so many layers to his character and gradually getting to know him was delightful.  I thought this story had many moving moments when certain character reveals were made, and that made me love them even more.  This is a unique, complex fantasy that I ultimately really enjoyed.

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  1. I finished reading this book a few weeks back! I think I had pretty similiar thoughts, although yours make a little more sense than mine :)

    1. Aw, well I'm sure your review of it was awesome! I'm glad we liked this book!

  2. I could have sworn I commented on this! Ah, well. :)
    I'm so glad you liked this one, it's one of my favorites! You are in for a treat with the second book because I thought it was even better, and the world building is fleshed out even MORE. Great review, Charlene :)

    1. Oh really?? I am so glad of that - I really want to learn more of the world-building! And I'm glad the last book is coming out soon so I can read them back to back!

  3. I love that you liked this book too!! You will have to read the short story that goes with it. My library had it for check out so I was able to read it that way. I think this is a really strong series and have just loved it so much. I even got my sister reading it.

    1. Oh yes, I forgot there was a short story! Okay, I will pick it up and hopefully get to reading it and the rest of the series all at once!

  4. Great review! Glad you enjoyed this one and really happy to see some Brimstone love. He really caught my imagination the first time I read the novel and became the book's standout character for me.

    I think you are right that the book really is more of a general fantasy though I understand the teen appeal. The world is so rich and complex that I think older readers will draw a lot from it too.

  5. BTW, I'm still hoping that what happened to Brimstone isn't true! Yes, I really need to find out more on the world in the next book - hopefully I can get to it soon!