Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone cover

Daughter of Smoke & Bone
by Laini Taylor
Release date: September 27th, 2011

This book was amazing and you should read it.  It was deliciously creepy and unsettling; Sensual but not gratuitous; Romantic without being trite. 

Karou is about 1000 times cooler than I am.  It is true. And yet somehow I do not hate her for it.  She was an independent and strong main character who not only wasn’t abrasive but managed to be thoughtful, likeable, and vulnerable.  I read a lot and I feel as if female leads who are strong and don’t annoy me are this white whale that I am constantly searching for.  Maybe because my standards are so high for them.  Male MC basically have to get through the book without being a dick to get a pass.  I know that this is a terrible double standard.   Is is because female character represents more than the space on the pages of the book that they inhabit to me? 

This isn’t a book where things are obvious.  I spent the first half of the book trying to figure out what the hell was going on.  Liani Taylor dumps you in at the deep end of the pool and just assumes that you can swim.  It wasn’t that the writing was unclear, it was that everything was inferred.  Karou is a mystery even to herself.  The use of third person past tense was perfect here.  Exposition is given in snatches and the reader builds a picture of Karou even as she is building a new picture of herself.

The writing was lush and textured.  I felt as if I could physically touch everything.  It didn’t feel as if the book had an unusual amount of description and yet everything was so perfectly realized.  Liani Taylor also managed to make the whole world that she had created feel fresh. The idea of denominations of wishes was brilliant.  I know that I have never read anything like that before. Yet it sort of slid into place as if it was some concept that I had always been told. 

The last 1/3 of the book was relentless.  I was reading at a frantic pace as if stuffing the words into my head fast enough would quiet that internal voice chanting, “What will happen? What will happen? What will happen?”  I was so focused on the plot that I know I missed out on the writing itself which is a shame because that is exceptional.  I will be rereading this again very soon to give myself a chance to properly appreciate it.

I must read the next book.

From Goodreads:
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?