Daughter of Smoke and Bone
By: Laini Taylor
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Laini Taylor is an amazing story teller, she builds up a world so detailed and creative you just don’t want to leave. I first read her series about your not so typical fairies the Dreamdark series (Blackbringer and Silksinger). Then I read her short story book, Lips Touch: Three Times. All just beautifully done. I see her name and I know I’ll be reading it sooner than later no matter what the subject matter is.
Summary (via Goodreads):
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?
The most basic description of this book that I’ve seen is that its about a forbidden love between an angel and a demon, which brings to mind a lot of other series out there. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not at all like the the vast majority of those. Laini Taylor weaves together a world original and detailed that takes age-old ideas (angels, demons, forbidden love, monsters etc) and makes them fresh and new again. The story has an elaborate mythological feel that will keep you riveted. The story moves at a wonderful pace once past the first few chapters (I got a tad bogged down with the art class scenes). Its a very complex story yet you are not confused as you read. Parts of the overall arc are slowly revealed to you letting you get a grasp of the overall story being developed in small bursts. I guess the best way to describe all of Laini Taylor’s books are that they are multi-leveled. You can tell so much thought and attention was given to small details that strengthen the characters and world.
These characters are so unique and drawn so clear, you rejoice at their triumphs and cry when they fail. Brimstone…lets just talk about how awesome he is. His entire being is just so interesting to me, a monster creature collecting teeth (from all over the world) for his mysterious work. This creature is as close to a father figure as our heroine, Karou has. Here’s her description of him in chapter 5,
Brimstone’s arms and massive torso were the only human parts of him, though the tough flesh that covered them was more hide than skin. His square pectorals were riven with ancient scar tissue, one nipple entirely obliterated by it, and his shoulders and back were etched in more scars: a network of puckered white cross-hatchings. Below the waist he became else-thing. His haunches, covered in faded, off-gold fur, rippled with leonine muscle, but instead of the padded paws of a lion, they tapered to wicked, clawed feet that could have been either raptor or lizard– or perhaps, Karou fancied, dragon.
The inner dialog of Karou is incredibly thoughtful and funny too. Its a treat to be residing in her thoughts and experiences. Laini Taylor creates characters that ‘are’ as they are described to be. You know, you’ve read the books where the love interest is just a list of adjectives but you really never see any of it in him or his actions? Well, Akiva, Karou, Brimstone, all of them are as they are described. Your mind creates such a clear view of who they are its really amazing.
I don’t think you necessarily need to be a fan of books about angels to get intrigued in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the world is crafted so well. Of course, if you are a fan of that genre (Angelfall by Susan Ee anyone?) you’ll love this too, or at least I do. Oh, and if you are a Twilight fan Stephenie Meyer has recommended the series.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone trailer:
The second in the series Days of Blood and Starlight is also available.