Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Title/Author:  Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
(Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1)

Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Published:  September 27th, 2011 by Little, Brown and Co.

Hardcover, 418 pages.

How I Got This Book:  Checked it out from my library.

Why I Picked It Up?:  It was on many bloggers Top Ten of 2011 lists, and the summary just sounded so intriguing, I just had to read it for myself!

Book Jacket Blurbs:  “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.

From master storyteller and National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor comes a sweeping and gorgeously written modern fantasy about a forbidden love, an ancient and epic battle, and hope for a world remade.”

My Review of the Work:

The beginning pages of this novel open up a dark and mysterious world in which Karou lives.  Karou, with her straight blue hair, multiple tattoos, and 92 sketch books completely filled of her beautiful creations, is an high school student attending a prestigeous art school in Prague where she is perfecting her artistic talents.  Her sketch books contain hundreds of drawings of fantastical creatures, who all have names as well as a place in Karou’s life–and even her friend’s lives.  But her friends do not know the enigmas that Karou’s life really holds–or how real her drawings really are.  So real, in fact, that they are the ones who raised her–the chimaera, the monsters, living in the store-front of “elsewhere”, where wishes are magic and darkness abides.

“She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair.  She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it.  This was her life:  magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing.”
–pg. 45.

A war is brewing–a war that is not of Karou’s world, but of her family’s world, with the chimaera.  Mysterious handprints appear on the portal doors leading to Brimstone’s teethshop, and there have been spottings of “beautiful” creatures spotted all over the world.  And one of these creatures attacks Karou while she is on an errand in Morocco–the day that life as she knows it changes forever.  Her curiousity gets her thrown out of the Shop, and a week later all of the portal doors are burned down, leaving Karou permanently separated from those she calls family.  But that is not her only problem–now, someone is following her, the same someone who attacked her.  Akiva, the Seraphim, cannot seem to just walk away from Karou’s presence.  Something is drawing him to her, despite the fact that she has the eyes of the devil tattooed on her palms.  They are sworn enemies, so why can he not stay away?

Wow.  I just cannot even begin to tell you how completely fantastic (literally and figuratively 😉  ) this novel is.  First of all, this beautiful cover sets the tone for the mysterious and intriguing story that lies within its pages.  And the symbolism of the cover’s blue mask–well, you’ll have to read it to find out.  But it is very prominent and a very intricate part of the story.  Mystery, Discovery, Mythology, Unmasking.  Such a beautiful story and mythology, told through Taylor lyrical writing style, which just makes it that much better.

There is an original twist to this fantasy/paranormal romance novel that I have not encountered before:  the fact that our main character–Karou–is sided on the “bad side” of this war.  Traditionally, angels = good and devilish monsters = bad in the classic good vs. evil stories, yet here is our heroine, being raised by and calling these devilish monster chimaeras her family.  Yet Karou knows nothing about the intricacies of this world in which she was raised, as everything we learn about the chimaera world we learn as she learns about it, too, so is she really on the “bad side”?

And then enters Akiva, with his beautiful gracefulness, who is drawn to Karou in an “all of a sudden I’m in love and can’t live without you” kind of way, and Karou recipricates those feelings (albeit on a little slower time table).  I am typically not really a fan of this kind of relationship/love forming in novels, but in this novel in particular it works really well.  Maybe it has something to do with the forbidden love aspect which makes it okay…I’m not sure.  But I liked it a lot.

Each and every detail in this novel is extremely important to the story, and this is why, when I finished reading this book, I sat in utter amazement.  Literally, I gasped “wow” outloud because I was just completely overwhelmed by the goodness of the web that this novel spins.  It is brilliant and beautiful.  I really cannot say much more than that.  I am sitting here trying to think of what else to tell you about this novel, and I am just at a loss for words.  You will just have to go out, procure yourself a copy, and read it for yourself.  And hopefully you will be amazed, too.

Memorable Moments:

“Akiva watched her with hawklike fixedness.  Until a few days ago, humans had been little more than legend to him, and now here he was in their world.  it was like stepping into the pages of a book–a book alive with color and fragrance, filth and chaos–and the blue-haired girl moved through it all like a fairy through a story, the light treating her differently than it did others, the air seeming to gather around her like held breath.  As if this whole place were a story about here.
Who was she?”  –pgs. 78-79

“Magic won’t save us.  The power it would take to conjure on sucha  scale, the tith would destroy us.  The only hope…is hope.”–pg 405

My Bookshelf Rating:

A Top Shelf Book!

Two in one month?!?  Wow, it’s not that often that I find a book worthy of my Top Shelf after one read, but this one I will round up and put there (4.5)  because….Wow.  This novel is very different from something I would typically read, yet I am very glad that I picked it up.  I was completely enamored by the story at hand, and I enjoyed learning about the mythology behind Karou’s world.  What a fantastic read.  Go get it, NOW!   =)

Love and the unexpected,


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