Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1)
By Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Fantasy
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?
I am admitting that Daughter of Smoke & Bone has sat in my massive TBR pile for a very long time due to one simple word: romance. I tend to turn around and walk away when I hear this word heavily associated with titles. I accept love when added to a good book as flavoring. While there have been exceptions, I rarely embrace stories solely centered on love or romance. And the term just kept popping up too often when I asked other fans of this series about their thoughts. I was afraid. Hesitation lingered like a massive shadow. Fortunately, I decided to muster up my courage and give this one a go. And guess what?! I have been led astray all due to one single word. My own preconceptions have finally caught up with me.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone is no simple love story or romance. It pushes boundaries, becoming so entirely different. I was amazed to discover a book brimming with magic, fantasy and mythology! My bookish heart squealed in delight, and I was immediately drawn in. There was no turning back. Fangirl sequence initiated within several chapters. I want blue hair!!!
That last sentence makes more sense when you learn that the female protagonist Karou (which I read as “kuh-ROO”) has blue hair. She fits comfortably into her leading role. Trying to sum up her characteristics in a few words is a challenge. There is nothing simple about her. She is resilient. She is courageous. She is beautiful with her blue hair. And she is shrouded in a mysterious past. What really pulls her together though, is the fact that we watch this silent art student (who only draws what she sees) develop into all of the above and discover her own potential and strength. She grows as we read, removing that cliché familiarity we see too often in heroines . And did I mention she was raised by Chimaeras?! Currently, I am placing her in the higher end of female leads for obvious reasons. I am eager to see how she progresses in future books.
The entirety of character development and world building in Daughter of Smoke & Bone is complex. While I feel that word is overused, it truly could not be more accurate. The author has established a compound mixture of elements. Fantasy, mythology and love come together in a fantastic way, exposing the reader to intricately detailed races including Chimaeras and Angels within multiple realms containing superb aspects of magic and darkness. The two races have fought an ongoing war for years to rid the world of one another. The overall result is engrossing read and that is difficult to put down.
The story comes together effortlessly in such a cohesive and appealing manner. I felt the history and back story were inserted throughout with flawless timing. The love story does exist. I will not tell a lie. And as I choke down my own coffee, I openly admit to you all that I enjoyed every moment of it. That love story that held me back for so long was a welcomed addition and I embraced it. This is not your run of the mill, hot and heavy, nice to meet you, drop your pants, love story. Avoiding spoilers, but highly recommending that you do not make the same mistake I almost did and pass this one by if you are not a fan of romance in books. I will also proudly point out, there is no love triangle trope. Bonus points!
There is some serious stuff happening here. Again, everything falls back on the author’s incredible ability to weave a tale with enticingly rich background and development while avoiding the dreaded superfluous droning that can often happen when too many elements are added to a story (kind of like this review because I am so excited). Pieced together and written elegantly, Daughter of Smoke & Bone allows for a well paced read that concludes in a rewarding yet open fashion. While I was left anticipating book two, which thank goodness this series is complete (lesson learned GRRM), I did not suffer the terrible cliff hanger syndrome.
Everything about this book screamed to me. It called my name, took my hand, and ran away with me. Sorry Wicked, but you have to wait! I am in love with the Chimaeras and the dark, rich lore that the author is building here. I am slapping 5 yellow stars on this one with no regrets!
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐