Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1
Publication Date: September 27th 2011 by Little, Brown & Company
Rating: |

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?

Review Overview:

  • Karou is not a helpless maiden – she’s a kick-ass character
  • This is not your typical angel novel; Taylor crafts a fantastical world on top of our own with seraphim and chimaera
  • Beautifully written urban fantasy that you do not want to miss

Urban fantasy? Usually not my thing. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE? I couldn’t get enough.

I haven’t had the best experiences with angel-themed novels in YA, so I was a bit shocked that I was enjoying this book. While forbidden love plays quite a part in this novel, I think the difference is with Karou. She is such a strong person. She’s fierce and independent, but at the same time she just wants to know more about herself and where had come from. Raised by Brimstone, a chimaera, and his other monster allies, Karou has no idea about her history. She has no recollection of her parents, having raised by Brimstone all her life. But she’s not a helpless maiden unlike all the other heroines in angel novels. In fact she’s the complete opposite: she’s a master in karate and she’s pretty handy with scary knives.

I would definitely label this more as an urban fantasy rather than paranormal. There’s a war in a whole different world called Eretz between seraphim and chimaera, which are more or less angels and demons. The world-building is just phenomenal. Despite the fact that the whole novel is set on Earth, Taylor is able to weave flashbacks of the Eratz and the past quite well. However, sometimes the flashbacks felt like they interrupted the overall pace of the novel. While it was still intriguing, the flashbacks felt slower than present day and it made me itch to get back to Karou’s story. She creates a whole history between the two races that runs deeper than the story of Karou.

The magic is pretty awesome in DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. For the most part, they appear in the tiny form of a bead called scuppies which was equivalent to a small wish like wishing an itch upon someone. Wishes appear in different denominations and the bigger the denomination, the bigger the wish that can be granted.

The romance is pretty good but it wasn’t anything to get me giddy. There’s an instant spark between Akiva and Karou but it doesn’t feel like insta-love to me. It’s curiosity and undeniable attraction. It’s like running into a really hot guy and for some reason, you can’t take your eyes away from him. The romance runs a lot deeper than insta-love and Taylor really develops it to make it realistic. That’s all I’m going to say about it, so you better read the book for yourself. :P

Overall, Laini Taylor’s descriptions are just strikingly vivid. I felt like I was traveling all over the world alongside Karou. I can imagine the streets of Prague. I’m not very artistic at all when it comes to traditional arts, so it was quite amazing to see behind Karou’s eyes as she describes the subjects of her drawings and sketches. The reason why I was so hooked into DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE was Taylor’s writing.

The ending wasn’t that much of a cliffhanger, but I did want more. The book itself does not read like a standalone. In fact, it felt like the beginning of a – gulp – trilogy but for the first time in a while, I was absolutely okay with that.

This is definitely a series to watch out for. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE exceeded my expectations. If I had not picked this up at BEA, it would have been a shame. I doubt I would have picked this one up on my own.

About the Author

Laini Taylor is a writer of fantasy books for young people, but her books can be enjoyed by adults as well. Her ‘Dreamdark’ books, Blackbringer (2007) and Silksinger (2009) are about faeries — not dainty little flowery things, but warrior-faeries who battle devils. Her first young adult book, Lips Touch, is a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award! It’s creepy, sensual supernatural romance. . . about kissing. Taylor is also an artist with a licensed gift product line called “Laini’s Ladies.”

Find the Author

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  1. Excellent review! I’m still not over this story and I can’t wait to get a shiny finished copy soon. Also, since you mentioned the scuppies, how great was that scene with Kaz at the beginning? I died. :P

    1. I’m glad that I read it before all the hype came out because I don’t think I would have picked it up otherwise. I totally see what you mean. :/ But I think that you should definitely give this one a shot! If not in the near future, at least read it before the second book comes out. :)

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