Around the world, black handprints are showing 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 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 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?
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Format & Pages: Hardcover, 418
Published: September 27, 2011, by Little, Brown and Company
Source: Providence Public Libraries
Will I Buy It? Yes.
This was an absolutely epic journey of badassery and mythology, and I have never been so glad to read a book in my life.
The plot follows Karou, our main character. She travels around the world, secretly doing the bidding of her caretaker, Brimstone the Devil. Once these strange marks on the doors appear, her world is thrown into disarray, and Brimstone sends her on one last adventure. Little does she know that an angel named Akiva has been following her. When he confronts her, a power that she had no idea of rises inside her. She nearly kills Akiva, but even after her mercy, he still is drawn to her. They form a bond, but when Akiva’s siblings come after him, and he realizes who Karou truly is underneath the charming eyes and blue hair, will this change the future of monsters and seraphim? Or will Karou turn away from her fate?
Let me make this very clear to you: THIS BOOK IS NOT JUST A ROMANCE. I was very mislead coming into this… I mean, just read the synopsis. It’s all about passionate love and dark secrets. But what you have to understand is that while the romance was tender and beautiful and I loved it very much, it was not the main focus of the story.
No, the spotlight fell on this epic war between devils and chimaera, and the seraphim. Seriously. Chimaera. This book had chimaera in it. I can’t really say much to the plot without giving you spoilers, except that it was freaking AMAZING. Complex and twisty-turny, with a lot of mythical creatures and stories and war.
Karou was wonderful. A lot of times in this genre, the main character has to be brutally scarred from some past event, and their heart will be hardened for life. But although Karou did have a violent past, she didn’t know about it for the time being, and I found her to be very quirky and sweet, in her own little ways. She also had a nice, refreshing edginess about her, which helped get the story going. Her friend Zuzana was absolutely hilarious, and added a comic relief which was very relaxing after battles and such. I thought they were both perfectly crafted for the story.
Akiva… Let’s talk Akiva for a moment. By the way, I pronounce his name (in my head) ‘Aaa-kī-va’. Like ‘reviva’, I guess. Some people might pronounce it ‘Ah-kiv-ah’ like ‘baclava’, but in my mind the ‘i’ will always say its name. He was one hot angel. I’m surprised Karou didn’t just stutter the first time she saw him. What with his fiery eyes and muscled body, I know I would’ve. But you know, Akiva wasn’t this sarcastic, cold person who needed Karou’s ‘loving kindness’ to reveal his true self. Akiva was the sweetest guy anyone could ever ask for. The devotion with which he protected and cherished Karou, the unending hope that she could love him back. It really touched my heart, when he defended her from his siblings. He was one of the best male love interests that I’ve seen in a while.
The romance between him and Karou was just lovely. They both discovered so much about each other, and were so delicate and at the same time passionate. One thing I was really happy about was the lack of, well, explicit writing. You get that so much in fantasy YA, especially ones dealing with older teenagers with newfound powers! But there was just some delicate kissing and very mild imagery. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I didn’t have to worry about things getting weird. Even though I’m OK with most of that stuff, it requires so much emotion stress.
But that ending… oh, that ending. It seriously messed with my emotions. I’m not going to go and blurt out any spoilers, but just be warned: you’ve got a serious twist coming for you. And it will take your heart and stab it into itty-bitty pieces, and then grind them up and throw them into a volcano.
Laini Taylor’s writing was fantastic. Each sentence was crafted really beautifully, and the descriptions really made the world vivid in my mind. She also managed to throw in some really important ideals in there, like Brimstone’s belief that the real magic is in hope, and not wishes. I like how Laini crafted her own goals and life lessons into a high fantasy tale.
I cannot recommend this book enough. It has become a solid new favorite series in my head, right up there next to Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. The sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight, is next on my TBR, so look for an upcoming review of that!
Laini Taylor is a writer-artist-daydreamer-nerd-person,
and simultaneously a mom-wife-sister-daughter-person. She lives in Portland, Oregon, USA
with her husband Jim Di Bartolo, who is an amazing illustrator and who she’s always begging to draw her things,
and with their wee droll genius, Clementine Pie. Visit her online.