Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Published: 2011
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Synopsis: 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?

My Rating: red-starred-starred-star .75ish….

This is a good book, this could’ve been an excellent book but there’s one mater that kept bothering me that would not let me give it a 4 star. I shall explore.

In this YA fantasy Taylor introduces us to the world of the Chimera who are sworn enemies of Angels. Our main character, Karou, is a human girl raised by chimera in a secret magic store in the human world. The father figure, Brimstone, is a bull-like creature who is hard on her but she knows he loves her, along with a lovely cast of caring chimera shop-keepers. Karou, being a human, attends human school in Prague where she draws art. The book open when she’s 17 (I think) and she has her own flat but does errands for Brimstone throughout the world using secret portals.

Our plot starts moving when an angel, a seraph, begins marking all the doors that Karou uses for her errands throughout the world. I wont say more because I don’t want to give away plot and plot I think it’s one of the strongest elements. Not the strongest because the strongest element of this book is the mythology. The mythologies in this fantasy novel are well developed and thought out with nicely crafted writing.

Karou is not one of those YA heroine writers are so fond of; the helpless, hapless, moronic idiot that doesn’t understand why her life is a mess and she just wants to be a normal normal. Karou is the opposite, she wishes she was chimera – she wants in on Brimstone’s secrets but he’s very guarded and as the book develops you understand why.

The first half of the book takes place on earth, the second part of it takes place in the Chimera/Angel world which takes on a full high fantasy setting and I can tell will delve in world-building in the coming novels. With all these good points that I have painted how, do you ask, didn’t I at least slam this with a 4 star review? Well, there is a glaring problem that distracted me from an otherwise wonderful book.

The goddamn insta-love.

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It cheapens this book, in my opinion because it’s such a sharp contrast to the well paced, intricate story. It’s literally their eyes meeting and they feel ‘something’ and that something is all encompassing, all changing, fire-burning, ridiculousness and I wanted and expected so much more.  (but really you know they both fell in love because they’re both beautiful, let’s be honest)

In many respects this book is a sort of re-telling of the Romeo and Juliet story in a fantasy form without using the tongue-in-cheek humor that Shakespeare is misunderstood for. While Shakespeare pokes fun at young insta-love, Taylor embraces it as gospel. Truly, I waited for Anita to burst in singing “A boy like that!”

Now, I will continue the series because again, everything else in this world is fascinating and different and I want more, I want war and blood and guts so I will just side-eye this epic love that seems to have developed by the mere touch of the skin. The good thing is that I read that Book 1 is the most love-heavy book so that will mean the next 2 should be solid 4 stars or above. I’m looking forward to the sequel which I plan to read at the end of the month. If you don’t mind some insta-love and really love fresh fantasy – I urge you to check it out.

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

  1. I loved the first book and it wasn’t for the romance and the series fell down quickly for me from there. If you don’t like the second book I would maybe consider not reading the third. I am, however, in the minority of that opinion so bare that in mind, but just to give you a different perspective 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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