Skip to content

Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

October 3, 2012

109. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (2011)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Book 1

Read By: Khristine Hvam
Length: 12h 32m (418 pages)

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Started: 01 September 2012
Finished: 27 September 2012

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I kept getting Girl of Fire and Thorns and Daughter of Smoke and Bone confused, so I figured I would listen to them both back-to-back. Solid plan.

If a girl is raised
by monsters, what must angels
look like to her eyes?

Summary: Karou might seem like a typical art student – blue hair, tattoos, and a penchant for drawing fantastical creatures – but the creatures she draws aren’t from her imagination, they’re from her childhood. Karou was raised by Chimera, particularly one named Brimstone, and even now she runs errands for him, collecting teeth which he exchanges for wishes. Karou’s never been sure what he needs the teeth for, but when Brimstone sends her on an errand to some exotic corner of the world, she goes – he’s family, after all. Karou’s relatively happy in her double life, until the unthinkable happens: someone – someone who looks very like an angel – destroys the portals to Brimstone’s shop, stranding Karou in Prague. As angry as she is, she’s still strangely drawn to the angel Akiva – and he to her – and as she uncovers the truth about who she really is, she will find herself caught in the middle of a deadly and interminable war.

Review: This book was good – really, really good. And, more to the point, very unusual, and despite the presence of the Seraphim, very much unlike any other teen paranormal romance I’ve read. (They’re called Seraphim and have wings and all that, but it’s not a fallen angel story, nor are they even explicitly Judeo-Christian-variety angels.) The fantasy landscape that Taylor builds is incredibly original, and has the neat trick where story and worldbuilding elements that seem arbitrary or confusing for most of the book suddenly snap into logical place by the end. Because, I know, reading that summary, you’re thinking “Teeth? Monsters that collect teeth? And angels? What the hell?” And I will admit that I spent a fair amount of the book with that same feeling of not really knowing what was going on, and if it all had a point. But it does, and that point is very original, and very neat.

The plot structure of this book is also pretty strange. In most books, there are clues that I piece together gradually, building my idea of what’s going on, until the big reveal at the end snaps everything into place. In this case, however, I spent the first half of the book with almost no idea what was going on, and then the penny dropped, and I figured everything else out in a rush, and so I spent the back half of the book (which delves into Akiva’s past, and thus has a completely different setting and cast of characters) knowing almost everything that was going on. Typically, I would have expected that kind of story trajectory to be frustrating and boring by turns, but somehow, Taylor has written her story so that I was willing to go along for the ride in the first half, and was invested enough to want to hear the specifics of how everything played out in the second. Her writing was also quite good at the level of prose styling: very evocative of both the back alleys of Prague and the Chimera’s city, and lush and descriptive while still maintaining a snappy edge throughout.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first book in a series (trilogy, I think?), but I felt like it ended at a satisfying stopping place. I’ll definitely be continuing on with the series as it’s published, and hopefully I’ll be able to pick the rest up in audio as well; I thought Khristine Hvam did a wonderful job with the narration, keeping the voices distinguishable without sounding fake, and keeping the reading lively with the appropriate degree of emotion. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Definitely recommended for fans of YA fantasy that are sick of vampires and in the mood for something new and different.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Bart’s Bookshelf, Bloody Bookaholic, Fantasy Cafe, Good Books and Good Wine and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.

© 2012 Fyrefly’s Book Blog. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Fyrefly’s Book Blog or its RSS feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is being used without permission.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2012 7:53 am

    Everyone who’s read this book seems to love it but I’m just not sure it’s for me. I should probably give it a try one of these days.

    • October 8, 2012 10:48 am

      Kathy – This is pretty far outside your normal area, I think, and I wonder if the initial weirdness of the plot and the worldbuilding would put you off…

  2. October 3, 2012 10:36 am

    Great book, and I agree, great audio. It’s interesting how “confusion” can be so entertaining!

    • October 8, 2012 10:49 am

      Annette – It’s true, although confusion can also be really annoying, and I’ve yet to figure out why some books tip one way and some the other.

  3. October 3, 2012 2:48 pm

    I REALLY enjoyed this one. I didn’t listen but I’m glad to know it’s good on audio, I may just go ahead and listen to it anyway :)

    • October 8, 2012 10:51 am

      crayolabird – The audio is really good. I don’t know if Khristine Hvam has narrated anything else, but I’d definitely listen to it if she has!

  4. October 4, 2012 6:46 pm

    I am sick of vampires — possibly forever. I am really sick of paranormal romance in danger, but I’m willing to buy your claim that this one is different. I mean the cover is so cool. :p

    • October 8, 2012 10:54 am

      Jenny – Well, no vampires here, that’s for sure. It is a paranormal romance, but it’s not of the “human girl falls for brooding and mysterious supernatural guy” mold. Or, well, it sort of is? But not really, because there’s a lot more going on, and Karou was raised by monsters, so she’s not exactly a normal girl. Plus there’s not the weird gender power imbalance that raises my hackles in most YA paranormals.

  5. October 5, 2012 2:04 pm

    I’m definitely starting to think I’m the only person who didn’t completely fall in love with this book. I think I’ll continue the series, but the spark didn’t seem to be there for me.

    • October 8, 2012 10:55 am

      Meghan – I can actually totally understand that. There were so many elements in this story that felt like they shouldn’t have worked for me, but somehow did, that I can easily see how they wouldn’t have worked for someone else.

  6. October 6, 2012 8:03 am

    I read this book earlier this year and It is one of my favorite books of the year.

    • October 8, 2012 10:57 am

      purplemoonmyst – It was one of the best I read last month, for sure! Although I don’t know how it’ll fall out in the yearly reckoning.

  7. October 9, 2012 7:37 pm

    OOOoooo! I want to read this. And I need one more RIP book – it would work for RIP, yes?

    • October 10, 2012 9:18 am

      Care – I think this would work for RIP, sure! I don’t know that I would call it the darkest fantasy that I’ve ever read, but it’s dark enough, plus it’s supernatural, and some touches that are vaguely Gothic, so I say close enough to count!

      • July 23, 2014 7:32 pm

        I did end up trying this – the audio, too and a big YES of agreement that the world building was fabulous. I had a few issues with it but I do get why so many are fans of this story line. I really liked Karou overall.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: