I don’t know about you, but I hear about Laini Taylor’s books all over the place. People tell me left, right and centre that I’ve never read anything like her works before. I like a good, unique story, so Daughter of Smoke and Bone went straight on my TBR, along with Strange the Dreamer. I’m pleased to say I now know that there’s nothing quite like a book by Laini Taylor.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone follows Karou, a talented art student most days, but somedays, she’s a messenger for the devil. Until one day, angels arrive to turn her world upside down (full blurb below).
By the time I finally found a beat-up paperback of Daughter of Smoke and Bone at the library, I’d had it on my TBR for ages. I was so delighted when I finally found a copy, I went home and started reading it straight away. Come the next day, I was done.
What I Liked
The World Building
Everyone always talks about Laini Taylor’s writing style, and it’s nice to finally understand the hype. Though there were moments when I felt it was a little overdone (more on that later), Taylor’s writing was quite exquisite, and it had an incredible impact on the way I enjoyed her world. Somehow, the snowy streets of Prague felt real to me, I had to grab another blanket to put on my bed while reading. No matter if it was realistic or fantastical the settings were so well painted, the book was entirely immersive.
I loved the tension between the angels and the devils in this book, mostly because it turned the traditional tension on its head, making the devils not so bad, and the angels not so good (granted, the story is told from the devil’s side). In fact, there were a lot of classic tropes that were masterfully twisted in this novel, adding a very intriguing layer to it.
What I Didn’t Like
Karou and Akiva’s Relationship
I understand that Karou and Akiva had history, but that’s not something I gathered in the beginning. Yes, Karou and Akiva had a special connection, but that something so common in books that I paid it no mind – usually a special connection is the universe telling two characters they’re destined for each other, but not the characters weirdly feeling that there might be more to their tale. Perhaps because I’m desensitized to this special connection trope, I felt that Akiva and Karou fell in love just a little too quickly – yes, the dreaded insta-love. Because of that, I really wasn’t on board with their relationship. Don’t get me wrong, by the end of the book I was, and I love the characters individually, as well as their interactions with one another, but throughout most of the book, I just wished they’d slow down, get to know each other more, and let me see the chemistry there.
Sometimes too much description
Though I mentioned before that I did enjoy Laini Taylor’s writing style, I did find that there were moments when the world was so beautifully described that I had absolutely no idea what anything looked like. I have this weird reading thing, if a book is underdescribed, then in my head it exists as some strange dark void, like I’m in the character’s head and they’re walking through life with their eyes closed – oddly, moments in Daughter of Smoke and Bone that were exquisitely described had the same effect on me. This is likely just a personal quirk, but it did get a little frustrating in parts.
My Favourite Thing
It was hard to pick a favourite thing about this novel, because I loved so many aspects, but I think my favourite was the novel’s protagonist, Karou. Though there were some moments where she made some decisions I wished she hadn’t, I loved how well-rounded and quirky she was. Not only that, she was strong and stubborn – exactly the type that could lead a revolution, if that’s where the series is going.
I gave Daughter of Smoke and Bone 4.75 out of 5 stars. Usually, I deduct half a star for insta-love, but because I know this wasn’t insta-love, but it still read a little like it, I’m only deducting a quarter (we round it up for Goodreads and the picture below).
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?