Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published: September 27th 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5/5 stars ★★★★★
“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
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?
5 of 5 stars to Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
How nice it is to be reminded of how great stories should feel like. After binge reading Bardugo’s mediocre work the past weeks, it feels refreshing to be immersed once again in Laini Taylor’s lyrical paragraphs AND exciting plots ㅡbecause the best of them can make these two important and seemingly mismatched elements come together so flawlessly. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of Laini’s first works but already, her writing skill is so impressive. I’ve read her latest series, Strange the Dreamer, and it’s crazy how much she’s improved there when she’s already this good here. Truly, one of the best YA authors of today.
Anyway, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is nothing short of magicalㅡa feeling I notice is now commonplace with anything Laini Taylor. Her imagination amazes me, but what truly sets her apart from her peers, is her writing prowess. I’ve said this before and it needed to be said again for emphasis: a great story is rendered ordinary without a great story teller. Laini Taylor possesses both skill to guarantee her a top spot in the crowded pool of YA Fantasy authors.
Stories about angelsㅡfallen or otherwiseㅡwere all the rage in the past and reading it in 2019 when it’s no longer so common definitely felt new to the experience, never mind that I’ve actually only read one “Fallen Angel” story before (Fallen by Lauren Kate) and that was way back 2009. I’m just saying I haven’t much to compare it to but with Laini Taylor as the author, do I really need to? She’s now that author I trust to write stories I won’t necessarily like but because she’s so good at what she does, I fall in love anyway.
Case in point: I didn’t think angels would match with part human, part animal creaturesㅡI’m talking about crazy combinations here and not the pretty kind; picture a horse for a head and a tiger for legsㅡbut here we are. I normally wouldn’t have liked such a bizarre looking lead but I told you, Laini has a way about her. Although to be fair, the female lead (Karou) didn’t actually look like the one I mentioned above. She was once considered a “high human,” having more human qualities than animal. She has the face and body of a human except for her calves to feet that were hooves and gazelle horns on her head. She’s also got bat wings. But the others of her kind (they’re called chimaera), they were “hideous” animal-human combinations. And as a disclaimer and spoiler, she was resurrected in a 100% human body so technically speaking, it still fell in the angel x human “love” story category. But the point is, Laini didn’t make the story about angels x humans but angels x chimaera. Karou may look like a human but her end goal is still for her own kind, the chimaera. Also, Laini went about the “human resurrection/reincarnation” plot in such a natural way that there was no question that the female lead needed to be born again as a human for the purpose of the story. This “twist” isn’t forced just so she would look pleasant, so to speak.
Moving onto the story, there really is nothing to say but that it’s everything one can ask for. I guess I shall enumerate the points because the paragraph would be bulky if I cramped all the explanations here so below is a breakdown of my, well, FEELS:
1. It was fascinating – the way the chapters were presented felt like it was the reader discovering not the author revealing.
2. It was romantic – a pretty mundane word but trust me, Laini takes it to a whole new level. The sweet, innocent moments between couples are pretty easy to write but sexual chemistry is not. Laini proves she can do both and so convincingly at that. Sexual tension is almost a handicap in the YA genre but here, it’s electrifying, it’s alive. And not to mention, beautiful. The way Laini describes these romantic scenes? It’s transcendent, unforgettable. And for your reference, here is an example:
“Here, in the circle of Akiva’s presence, even as they spoke of war and siege and enduring enmity, she felt herself being drawn into the warm absoluteness and rightness of him, like he was both place and person and, contrary to all reason, exactly where she was supposed to be.”
3. it was exciting – there is just enough action and combined with a perfect pacing, you will never want to stop reading.
And of course, I shall talk about the characters too. First, there is Karou, our lead heroine. She’s an easily likeable character and in fact, I would describe her as cool because she didn’t seem to have a dramatic bone in her body. Yes, she has insecurities (mostly about belonging to a family, to someone) but she’s not so hang up about it or about herself. Plus points that she has issues that are relatable to me. The part about having a void in her- I felt that. (Who’s dramatic now?!) She’s suffered through so many tragedies but her resolve remains strong and she never lets anythingㅡeven loveㅡget in her way. Heroines with clear goals and needed no dilly-dallying to take action? Sign me up!
Then there is Akiva, the otherworldly (literally) beautiful (of course, what else) angel. I know I sound like I’m making fun of a such a cliche description of angels but it didn’t feel like that at all in the book. I’ve mentioned how Laini is so good with words and the way she presented Akiva just requires complete absorption. I say presented, because that’s how Akiva’s introduction felt like. It wasn’t just mere describing a character, it was giving said character a grand entrance that would guarantee to leave a mark. Akiva is a force. His beauty, his power, his determination, his love, everything about him.. is magnetic. I wouldn’t fault girls who go crazy for him but fortunately, there is no such pathetic reactions from Karou when she first saw him. (In fact, Karou was very sensible when she first met him- more plus points for her).
Over-all, a perfect story for me. Great writing, great characters. True to the hype.
(On a side note, it just needs a better cover)
**photos used in moodboard not mine, credit to owners
**models in character profiles: Vika Levina (Karou) and Burak Celik (Akiva)