Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format/pages: Hardcover 432 pages
Format read/Source: ARC received at Comic-Con, read August 2011
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
17-year-old Karou’s life is a mystery. As a baby, the Wishmonger Brimstone took her in, and she was cared for by the other chimaeras in his shop and trained to be a messenger. Brimstone and the other chimaeras have been her surrogate family for as long as she can remember. Karou is taught a little about their magic, but mainly serves as a messenger for dangerous tooth-collecting missions for Brimstone. In Karou’s dual life, she is also a gifted art student whose drawings of chimaeras are legendary, though her fellow art students in Prague don’t realize the portraits are real. Karou feels empty and like an outsider at times and doesn’t know where she fits in. She would like to earn Brimstone’s confidence, or at least earn more of his priceless wishes. However, he warns her that every wish comes with a price. Chaos begins with the sudden appearance of black handprints on doorways, and Brimstone becomes more desperate than usual for teeth. When Karou is in Marrakesh on a mission, she is spotted by the beautiful stranger Akiva, and they feel an intense and immediate connection. At the same time, Karou gets caught in the middle of a deeply personal and fierce war between angels and demons.
Laini Taylor’s writing is sublime and gorgeously detailed so that Karou’s world comes alive for the reader. I could envision the Prague setting very well through the author’s descriptive language, and the beautiful setting had me yearning to visit. The story enfolds at a leisurely pace while always managing to be entertaining, and I purposely read it slowly to savor the details. The world building is particularly well done and satisfyingly combines fantasy elements in a contemporary setting. Though this fantasy does deal with the familiar topic of angels and demons, it is done in an intriguing way that I haven’t seen before.
The characters are colorful and interesting, from Karou’s human best friend Zuzana to the chimaeras, or monsters, she encounters. I could imagine all of these creative characters hanging around Prague from their detailed descriptions. The protagonist Karou is beautiful, fascinating, strong yet vulnerable, and cunning. Since Karou’s past is unknown to her it is interesting to fill in the blanks along with the character. The mythology of the seraphim and chimaera piqued my interest and left me eager for more answers in future books. I loved the romance between Karou and Akiva and their scorching chemistry leapt off the page.
All the time spent on the story set-up leads to a thrilling and satisfying conclusion. The pace really picks up in the last third of the book, and the tension, angst and excitement left me breathless. Once answers are revealed toward the end of the story the book is unputdownable. This book is a must read for Fantasy fans, and is a good crossover for both YA and Adult readers. It has magic wishes, action, romance, gorgeous writing, exotic locales, a blue haired heroine, and an epic war in which the lines are blurred between good and evil. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first book in a new series, and I can’t wait to read the next installment.
- Book: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (bookchelle.com)
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (booktopia.com.au)
- Daughter Of Smoke And Bone – Spotlight (sidhevicious.wordpress.com)