Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke and Bone
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.
Other Reviews: Bart’s Bookshelf, Bloody Bookaholic, Fantasy Cafe, Good Books and Good Wine and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
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First Line: Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.
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