Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

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 grows 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 hairactually 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?

4.5 cupcakes

“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.”

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Every word, every page is infused with magic – both literally, in terms of the storyline, and figuratively, in terms of Laini Taylor’s gorgeous, poetic, quote-worthy writing and breathtaking descriptions of Prague. The layers of mythology were equally impressive: from the creation stories of chimaeras to a reinterpretation of the classic battle between angels and demons/good vs. evil, this story was a breath of fresh air in the YA paranormal genre.

All of the characters in the story, both main players and secondary characters alike, felt incredibly real and I fell in love with each and every one of them. Karou is easily one of my favourite heroines, and I loved her determination and creativity. More than that, though, I identified with her loneliness and her feeling that she is incomplete – that there must be something more to who she is, but she can’t quite grasp what that would be.

My favourite characters, though, were some that received a bit less page time: Brimstone, Karou’s adopted father of sorts, and Zuzana, Karou’s best friend. Brimstone’s quiet but fierce love for Karou was beautiful to read about. Zuzana, the “rabid fairy,” was so much more than a source of dark humour: she was truly an important part of Karou’s life, and their friendship felt deep and true.

While the romance was a bit cliched, it was explained in a way that both made sense and added to the mystery of the story. As a result, it was fairly easy to disregard the instalove factor, and I quickly found myself hoping that their love could transcend the many obstacles that they faced.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is so much more than a story of forbidden love, though: it showcases the importance of love in all of its forms, including familial love and friendship. It speaks of war and peace, the importance of hope, and how difficult it can be to craft your own identity. These themes are so powerful and expertly woven into the mystery-laden plot, adding to the enthralling nature of the story.

Overall, Daughter of Smoke & Bone was a beautifully written, intricate and imaginative tale that I will definitely be revisiting time and time again.

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