BOOK 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 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 hairactually 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?



"Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic."

Karou is a ever so slightly unusual. For starters, her name is Karou. Her hair is a lapis shade of blue. Her sketchbooks are filled with monsters who have their own storylines. She might have one tattoo too many. She collects languages for her birthdays. She loves to eat in Poison Kitchen. She disappears on mysterious errands. Some say they saw a bat following her at times. The other say it was a bird. Only one thing is certain.

Karou is ever so slightly unusual.

"Daughter of Smoke and Bone" is a story about angels. It's a story about demons. It's a story about an ancient war. An interdimensional house. An art school in Prague. A town square in Morocco. A flea market in Paris. A long-lost love. A newfound love. A difference between wishes and hopes. And everything in-between.

Sometimes, the popularity is well-justified. This is one of those times.




There are five key elements that make a book for me: a well-developed plot, characters with depth, a memorable writing style, consistent pacing, and a gripping setting/world. But most of all, it's about a certain way a book makes you feel once you put it down. Whether it stays with you. Whether it stays at all.

And this book has completely and utterly stayed.

There is one point universally agreed upon where "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" is concerned: the plot is entirely too intricate to be conveyed as a selling point. And I'm nowhere near verbose enough to attempt it. But I will say this where the plot is concerned: it is mindblowing. It seems implausible that this book could have had only a little over 400 pages considering how much has happened. These pages are well-used. They are filled with so many twists and turns, they cover so many settings and so many cities, both fictional and real. They feature characters, concepts, worldbuilding, magic, connections and relationships. It left me feeling like I read three whole books. And I read it in a day!

The world that Laini Taylor has dreamed up is so unique. This isn't an "angel book", nor can it be classified as a "demon book". If you think about it, it defies genre altogether. Part fantasy, part paranormal, part supernatural, and it all takes root in a present-day art school in Prague. Over the course of the book, Karou takes us on a journey all across the world as we know it and into the world beyond. After all, it's not that hard to travel when you were raised in an interdimensional portal. Enter in Prague, exit in Morocco.

"You know, a smaller soul than I might end our friendship on the grounds of you saying obnoxious things like 'I just have to stop in Paris really quick.' "

And the characters! How effortlessly did Laini Taylor manage to introduce such a wide variety of intriguing, dark, quirky, hilarious, and thoroughly enjoyable characters! And not a single one without depth or a set of problems of their own. It doesn't all revolve around the protagonist, not really. The people Karou meets along the way have struggles, aspirations and predilections of their own. You want to figure them out. You want to know more. And with some of them, you might even get to.

"There are things bigger than any wish."
"Like what?"
"Most things that matter."

And if Karou is the daughter of smoke and bone, then Laini Taylor is the daughter of fairytales and prose. She doesn't need to start a story "in a kingdom far away" to make it into a fairytale. She doesn't need to end it with a happily ever after to make the ending enjoyable. The chapter titles are lyrical and humorous in turn. The book title is in so many ways relevant to the plot! There is not a word out of place. But she strings them together so beautifully. (Almost as beautifully as a certain Wishmonger might string teeth together on a necklace.)

"Once upon a time, an angel lay dying in the mist. And a devil knelt over him and smiled."

This was just so refreshing.

And it truly, truly stayed.


RATING: *****


- Lexie

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BOOK REVIEW: DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE BY LAINI TAYLOR
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