Thursday, 29 September 2011

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 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 one of the strangers - beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored 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?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor has received a great deal of pre-publication buzz - trailers, limited proofs and plenty of information. This often makes me a little concerned about whether the book can possibly live up to all my expectations. With the case of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I am pleased to say my expectations were absolutely surpassed - this is an exceptionally special book.

It tells the story of Karou, blue-haired artist living in Prague - ward of Brimstone, a chimaera who creates wishes in the world of Elsewhere. Karou has always felt as though she doesn't belong entirely in either world, and only comes to find out why when she meets akiva, one of the seraphim - and her mortal enemy.

From the very first page Taylor opens up a world of folklore and fairytale. The winter location of Prague feels 18th Century and very mystical - a perfect setting for the otherworldly Karou. She - with her tattoos and blue hair and artistic ability - is one of the strongest female protagonists I've seen in a YA novel for a while. She is strong yet vulnerable, talented, sardonic and brave.

Taylor's prose is exquisite. It is whimsical and delightful, playful and wistful by turn and kept me enthralled from first page to last. I just can't emphasise enough how beautiful it made this book to read.

The story feels a little like the weaving of a tapestry - thread after thread pulling together to create a glorious whole. I really enjoyed the unveiling of some of the mysteries - and I'm glad that some of them have been left to discover in the further two novels of the trilogy.

For me, one of the areas that most YA fails in is the way the romance develops and the manner in which the two protagonists fall in love - but here is was completely believable and organic, especially thanks to some of the reveals later in the story.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is something incredibly special. While watching it I felt the same way as I did when I watched Pan's Labyrinth. It's an Event and deserves the capitalisation. This really is not to be missed.


  1. I've been hearing so many great things about this books as it wings its way around the blogosphere, and I'm kind of disappointed that I don't have a complete copy. I only have the preview that was released. But I have to say, with all the reviews I'm seeing, that if the preview is half as good as I think it's going to be, I'm going to end up buying myself a complete copy as soon as I can!

  2. I am half way through this book and could not agree more. Obsessed with the writing, the story...and more than a little envious of the talent :-) Great review.