Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Book Review - Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Book 1) by Laini Taylor
Published by: Little Brown
Publication Date: September 27th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy

"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well."

Karou might be just as she seems, a gifted art student in Prague. Yet the fantastical beasts that she fills her sketchbooks with aren't a figment of her imagination. They are her family. And like most family, they sometimes have favors to ask of her that take her away from the normal life she is trying to live. A life that is about to end. All over the world black hand prints are appearing on doors, burned into the wood by winged strangers. One day it is the door Karou takes to visit her family. She is cut off from them, she doesn't know if they are alive or dead. What will she do if she is cut off from all that she knows?

Yet what of the winged strangers? One of them, Akiva, sees Karou and cannot believe his eyes. She looks just like his lost love. But she is dead and gone. Their love was forbidden. Two star crossed lovers on different sides of an otherworldly war. There can not be a connection between the two women. Yet Akiva's heart is telling him differently. Could Karou be his lost love? Could she love him again in this new life once she knows the whole truth?

If someone had said to me that I would become enamoured with a book series about "devils" and "angels" I would have laughed. Angels to me have never seemed the stuff of literature, more the stuff of Sunday School. Yet there are angels out there that have fascinated me... Loki and Bartleby in Dogma, Balthamos and Baruch in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series for example. So, add to this many of my friends clamouring that I must read this book now, which increased a hundred fold once the second book came out, I caved and fell in love with this world.

What I adored was the world building. The seamless twining of reality and fantasy. Prague was the perfect choice in it's character to couple it with an imaginary land. The history and the Gothic feel of the city make it totally believable that you might accidentally stumble upon a chimera walking down a twisty back alley. Or a winged creature might descend from the skies and accost you. There's a part of me that wishes I had been raised in that little office of Brimstone's where wishes were made, literally. Add to Taylor's creatures and continents this elaborate currency of wishes and their effectiveness, and it's so alive and real that I really thought I might be able to barter some teeth for a scuppy or a shing to give myself really cool colored hair like Karou...

Though, I did have a hard time after becoming so invested in Karou's life as it revolved around Prague, that when we are pulled out of that life and into her previous life as Madrigal I was so jarred that I didn't really take to her previous life. Having already read the second book, I know that there is a merging of the two halves of herself that takes place that then makes everything make sense, but at this point in Daughter of Smoke and Bone was when my love for it wavered. I needed to know the full history of Akiva and Karou's previous life when she was Madrigal, but at the same time, this fearless warrior that was Madrigal, was so different from Karou, that my heart hardened a little towards her. Madrigal is what Karou would have been/was in a different world. A "person" I just didn't take to. Thankfully this was rectified in the second book, which is one of the most amazing books I have read in a long time.


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