Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (#1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Published: September 27, 2011
Pages: 433
Series: yes (second installment 'Days of Blood and Starlight' published November 6, 2012)
Source: purchased

Amazon Summary: 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 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 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?

This was some real fantasy. I didn't get a clear picture of what I was going to read about at all. The summary is rather confusing, actually. Fortunately 'Daughter of Smoke and Bone' happened to be rightly mysterious.

Basically Karou, our blue-haired, otherworldly-language speaking protagonist is part of two entirely different worlds. One of them - the very much less human one - she knows little about, but it's been with her for as long as she can remember, originating in a shop with portals that easily lets her travel the world but that also hides a second door to the place known simply as "Elsewhere" where she's never been allowed.

When Karou's not in school she's going around the globe collecting teeth for he who raised her. Though, she's never known what the teeth are for, only that they are traded for different degrees of wishes in return, and she's not supposed to ask many questions. However, things start to unravel when she meets an enemy, an angel.

It was never clear to me this book was about angels and devils or demons, Taylor has crafted the story with such a refreshing, complex, and utterly original take, without a strict sense of the good or evil sides. I loved how convincing Taylor was when describing the angels, their cold front was very believable.

There was a ton of depth, background, and culture to the story. And there is a major twist, worthy, but definitely causing mixed opinions from my side of it.

Taylor's writing has a nice lyrical quality. The story kept me interested enough, though I would've wished for every important encounter to have occurred earlier.
I found quite a liking in Karou, Issa, and Brimstone (somewhat in that order.) Akiva succeeding with his impenetrable exterior and therefore kept me at a distance. I was uncertain of his motives.

I enjoyed the few times you got to experience things from Akiva's point-of-view but when it came to Madrigal, it was as if someone had chopped off the interest-cord in my brain. It was tedious reading so much about her story, even if it was essential, when you wanted to be reading about Karou.

The latter parts of the book was a bit hard for me to finish but it's evident Taylor has a knack for this, for fantasy, creatures, and story-developing.
I hadn't known this was a series and as of right now I'm not locked in on following it but the end left off perfectly fine and I'd guess most readers will want to know what comes next.


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