A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{August 8, 2011}   Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Plot: Karou has a sketch book full of monstrous looking creatures. To her friends they are an expression of her fertile imagination, to Karou they are the only family she has ever known. She lives two lives: one as a 17-year-old art student in Prague and another as foster daughter and errand girl to Brimstone, the Wishmonger. She travels throughout the world via magic doors to gather teeth of all kinds for a purpose she cannot begin to guess. But black handprints are being scorched into the doorways and the supply of teeth is growing short. Karou suddenly finds herself caught up in a thousand-year-old war and in a forbidden love affair with her family’s enemy. It cannot end well.

This review is based on an Advanced Reader’s Copy received at Book Expo America.

Beautiful, brilliant, beguiling… I could alliterate all day. I loved this book. It is full of magic, friendship, love, hope and, even in the midst of tragedy, wimsy. I’ve read a great deal of paranormal fiction about angels and devils but Taylor brings a fresh perspective on the genre. It’s like nothing I’ve read before. Her writing is evocative: she brings Prague, Marrakesh and her invented city of Loramendi to vivid life.

Her characters were just as vivid and I fell in love with them… even Kaz, Karou’s horrible, arrogant ex (he was just wonderful in his jerkishness ^_^). But my favorites were without a doubt Karou herself and her tiny, intense friend Zuzana. Their conversations both silly and clever (their discussion about stomach butterflies is a good example), and their clear care for each other made me want to be their friend too (I also want blue hair and to collect languages). And Taylor’s men… Ah, what can I say? Her men, human, angel and chimera, are beautiful (“Beautiful to the point of completely overdoing it” p. 193) and flawed.

Though I call it a novel about angels and devils, Taylor makes no simple distinctions between good and evil. As in any long war, both the seraphim and the chimera have histories and myths that explain the evil of the opposing side but the truth is far more complicated. And this fascinating, unexpected truth is slowly revealed to us over the course of the novel, culminating in one great, final tragedy. I didn’t see it coming and it was like a punch in the stomach. It left me breathless.

I am already desperate for the second book and the first one hasn’t been released yet.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone will be released by Little Brown in September 2011.

Challenges: None


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