Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
No. of Pages: 432
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Origins: Mine. All mine.
Release Date: 27 September 2011
“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?”
My Thoughts: With her turquoise-blue hair and absolute loyalty, Karou is the type of female figure that I absolutely adore. She is fiercely independent, strong-willed, intelligent, and adorably quirky. She knows her own mind and knows her own absolute truths, and at no time does she ever waver in her belief in either. She is not afraid to make the tough decisions, even though to do so might cost her happiness and love. In her late teens, she has grown out of the self-absorbed, whiny stage, but she is still young enough to be surprisingly innocent. Karou is the type of character you would love to get to know in real life, if she would let you get that close, because she would be your friend forever. That same loyalty she exhibits towards her loved ones automatically evokes the same sense of loyalty in the reader, so that you will stand by her no matter what she discovers about her past and herself.
The story itself is outstanding. These are not your everyday angels and demons interacting here. In fact, Ms. Taylor takes the whole idea of angels and fallen angels and turns it on its head. Better yet, the world-building occurs within the narrative, so that readers get to know Karou’s world without lengthy expository sections. Adding to that, the action is practically nonstop since Karou’s life is anything but ordinary. Once Akiva enters the scene, the danger and tension ratchet up several notches, leaving readers helpless but to read as fast as possible. Lastly, the truth behind Karou’s past is as unexpected as it is a great twist of readers’ expectations.
One of the best features of Daughter of Smoke & Bone is the social commentary about the war between the angels and demons. Even though one might criticize it as rather heavy-handed at times, the fact that Ms. Taylor devotes so much attention to each side’s perspective is an excellent lesson in objectivity. One cannot help but draw parallels to the similar antipathy between the Middle East and the western countries.
I tore through Daughter of Smoke & Bone and could easily read it again right now because I know I missed some key clues about Karou’s past, present, and future. I adored Karou and could read about her adventures for a long time. She is so admirable in her embrace of the special and unique as well as in the choices she makes. She is the type of heroine I want to hold up as an example to my own daughter, which makes her truly special in the pantheon of children’s literature. I cannot recommend Daughter of Smoke & Bone highly enough.