Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: September 27th, 2011 (Little, Brown BYR)
Synopsis: Around the world, black hand prints 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 otherworldly 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?
“Once upon a time, a little girl was raised by monsters.
But angels burned the doorways to their world, and she was all alone.”
Karou is an art student living in Prague leading a seemingly normal life. But she was actually raised by a group of demonic beings called Chimaera who form her surrogate family, and she now works for one of them, a wishmonger named Brimstone who collects teeth. Karou lives between these two worlds, never feeling like she really belongs in either. One day mysterious black handprints begin to appear around the world on doorways which act as portals into Brimstone’s workshop, and Karou runs into an angel, Akiva, causing her to question who and what she really is. A day later, all the doorways burn down at once, cutting off Karou’s connection from her only family and she finds herself caught up in an ancient war between the Seraphim and Chimaera.
This series has been on my backlist for the longest time, and I’ve been more than a little hesitant to pick it up because it has been so hyped over the years. I liked Strange the Dreamer, but didn’t have the patience to decipher another book like it. Another reason was that this book is urban fantasy which is a genre I usually have a hard time reading. Luckily, I found this pretty to read and follow along, and I was particularly impressed with the pure fantasy feel that this book has despite the urban setting. The setting itself was so unique and I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in Prague or Marrakech before.
This was actually so hard to summarize. There wasn’t much of a build up and the story jumps into things straightaway. It felt a little bizarre initially, since I’m typically used to much more gradual world-building, but I was hooked within the first five chapters. I really enjoyed the author’s writing style and the narration makes it so easy to be drawn into the story. Karou was an amazing character, there’s no other way to put it. She’s strong and independent, and more importantly, maintains that throughout the book. Akiva on the other hand was…well, as a character, not too bad, but he didn’t really stand out to me. I actually find it quite interesting that the ethereally attractive race of beings are depicted as sort of being the bad guys here, even though this isn’t your typical good-vs-evil type story.
The one thing I wasn’t fond of was the insta love. Akiva was nice and all, but on the scale with other YA fantasy love interests, pretty average and the entire thing felt extremely cliched. However, as long as this doesn’t devolve into a standard script and Karou remains a strong female protagonist, I’m not too bothered about this going into the sequel. The story ended on a quite a shocking cliffhanger and I can’t wait to pick up the next book. This book was so much better than I expected and I throughly enjoyed it.
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: