Review

Angels, Demons & Teeth

Angels, Demons & Teeth

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

by Laini Taylor

Genre: YA Paranormal, YA Romance
Published: September 27, 2011
by Little, Brown Books

three-half-stars

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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 grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly 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?

Review:

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.

It did not end well.

With these two sentences, we are suddenly thrown into the world of angels and demons and magic alongside our heroine Karou. I feel like I’m in the minority with this one sadly. While I did like it quite a bit, I feel that possibly, due to the tremendous amount of hype it’s gotten, that I was expecting a bit more than what I received.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone follows Karou, an artist living in Prauge; where she balances having a normal teenage life with having to run errands for none other than the devil. On one errand, she runs into a beautiful angel named Akivia – and they ultimitely fall in love. But is love between an angel and a demon even thinkable – especially as the conflicts between their two species continues to grow by the minute?

I have to admit that I have been putting off reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone for quite a long time because of the angel and demonlore. Most YA books focusing on angels and/or demons ultimitely turn out to be poorly-written romances (Halo, Fallen, Hush Hush), and I was worried Daughter of Smoke and Bone would fall under that trap. Thankfully, however, it does not. What Laini Taylor does with the paranormal aspects is completely breathtaking. She truly creates a whole new world and it is stunning. She creates a unique history and culture for both angels and demons that is so original.

The characters are all incredibly fantastic in their own rights as well. I enjoyed how flawed and full of depth they all are, and it was so easy to connect to them.

She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now.

Karou was such a complex and relatable character; and it’s almost hard not to like her for her wit and her sense of humor. You can tell how much she wants to be a normal teenager and to find out who she is, and her journey is so relatable.

Akivia is also pretty well-done. Being an angel, he has spent his whole life being trained on the battlefield; and you can really see how this tortured past affects him. View Spoiler »

Not only are Karou and Akivia pheonominal as individuals, but they are just as wonderful as a couple. The romance in Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not by any means perfect – it suffers from a pretty large case of instalove – but, other than that, this is a romance that will embed itself deep in your heart and plant itself there. Case aside from the instalove, this is a perfect example of exactly how forbidden romance should be written, and I think for that alone the instalove is almost forgivable.

The writing, however, is where Taylor really shines. She has an absolutely exquisite prose, and I found myself attached to the beautiful way she strings her words together; in such a seamless and virtually effortless fashion. The descriptions and imagery here are some of the best I’ve seen a quite a while.

Hope? Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.

My main problem with the novel, however, was the pacing and the predictability. As lovely and as lyrical as Laini’s writing is, it takes a bit of time to get used to – especially the authentic Czech names – and I felt that I spent the first half of the book simply trying to get used to her writing style and the names of the characters, and that while I was doing so I wasn’t quite as engrossed in the story as I could have been. It took a good 150 pages until I was adapted and fully engrossed to the story. I also found myself predicting most of the plot twists in the story and even the ending as well which took away my reading experience to a certain degree.

I can definitely see why so many people are in love with Daughter of Smoke and Bone; and while I didn’t like it as much as some readers did, I definitely found it to be a great escape and will certainly be continuing the series.

Was there any fate more bitter than to get what you long for most, when it’s too late?

three-half-stars

69 thoughts on “Angels, Demons & Teeth

  1. I actually just purchased this on audio about a week ago but have not listened to it! I know a lot of readers adore this series but it’s good to have read the things you didn’t enjoy and had problems with too so I can keep that in mind and if I end up feeling the same way at the beginning, I know that the book will get better.lovely review Zoe! Sorry I’ve been MIA lately!

    1. There are SO many people who love this series, and for good reason Amir! I look forward to seeing what you think of it when you read it. 🙂 And no worries – I completely understand!

  2. I think the hype of this book got to me a bit. I rated it three stars because I was simply not as impressed as I could have been.

    I thought the instalove was a bit of a let down, and for all the drama surrounding it, I was just not invested. I cared somewhat but my heart wasn’t aching along with the characters as it so often does.

    I definitely agree with you about the predictability, which is a shame because guessing is fun. And I think there were quite a few problems with the pacing of the story, as well. The whole book felt a bit like a precursor to the second book, in my opinion.

    I have heard that the series gets better and better and I definitely look forward to seeing if that is the case for me!

    1. I am so glad to find someone who feels the same way Chiara! 🙂 I agree – this was a great book, and I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if there wasn’t as much hype for it, you know?

      The whole book felt a bit like a precursor to the second book, in my opinion.

      I’ve been trying to pinpoint why it felt so “meh” for me, and that absolutely hits the nail on the target – I completely agree!

      I’ve heard the same thing, and I hope that ends up being true! 😉

  3. I definitely think the hype surrounding this first novel can–potentially–cause it to be disappointing but the sequel is infinitely better and though the last novel is the weakest of the trilogy, it’s still fantastic. Glad you still enjoyed this, Zoe, and I’m looking forward to your thoughts on the rest of the trilogy! 🙂

    1. A lot of people seem to second your thoughts Keertana, because I’ve heard a lot of people remark that the 2nd novel is by far the best, so I can’t wait to give it a try! 🙂

  4. I haven’t started this series yet because of all the hype and the fact that I have this serious love hate relationship with books about angels and demons. I sadly every rarely love them.

    1. I was the same way! The number of mediocre angel / demon stories in YA is…concerning to say the least, so I was hesitant too. Definitely don’t be hesitant though because this is so rewarding in the end!

  5. I actually tried reading this one when it first came out ended up not finishing it 😮 I think I got swept up by other reads and sort of forgot about it ooops. There’s truly so much hype surrounding the series though so maybe I should consider giving it a second try and picking it up again.

    The originality you describe sounds so appealing. So often in YA we see these tropes and stereotypes used over and over till they become so completely contrived. Karou also sounds like a likable and easy to relate to character. We really don’t see enough humor in my view in YA. Instead we get overly dramatic ones.

    The romance sounds interesting. Sometimes insta love can work (but it’s very rare) and the forbidden angle is interesting if done well too. Akivia himself sounds like a intriguing love interest and very multi dimensional.

    Great review girly <33

    1. Definitely give it another shot Larissa! I look forward to seeing what you think a 2nd time around. 🙂

      I completely agree! This is not by any means something that’s stereotyped or unoriginal, and if you like creativity and unique reads, you’ll be in heaven with this one!

      Thank you! <3

  6. I’m sorry the hype ruined it in some ways for you. I totally get that feeling. Although I must admit that I’m one of the people who fell in love with this one. I loved it from those first lines that you quoted. I personally really love her writing, and I’m glad you saw that too. 🙂

  7. I’m one of those people who didn’t love this one as much as I thought I would. I thought this was boring LOL. Anyway, I might try this series sometime again if I feel like it. I’m happy that you enjoyed this one though!

    1. LOL – don’t be ashamed Marga! 😀 I can completely see where you’re coming from. The beginning is a bit slow as we adjust to this world and get used to the odd Czech names, but it really picks up. Thank you!

  8. YOU READ IT, YOU READ IT *happy dances*

    It sucks you didn’t LOVE it, but you liked it and I can live with that. The second book is a gazillion pages though, so if you had trouble with the pacing in this, have fun with the next book *cackles* (it is awesome though).

    And yeah, doesn’t it do the whole angel/romance type thing so uniquely? None of that Hush, Hush nonsense and cliche. It’s brutal and vivid and WOW.

    1. *happy dances*

      I need to learn to listen to you Allie! Gah!

      I’m really interested in seeing what the next installment has to offer. I have a feeling that the pacing will be better since now I’m a bit more used to the Czech names and Taylor’s writing style.

      “None of that Hush, Hush nonsense!” LOL… Amen to that! 😉

  9. YAY I’M GLAD YOU READ IT AND I READ IT TOO AND WE BOTH MILDLY LOVED IT. (Although I was really into it and I didn’t mind the heaviness of the world building and the Czech names and stuff…for me it was the second half. I was just…bored? Ish? Hehe.) I was furious at You Know Who at the end too, but I definitely don’t think it was out of character. But yes! I’m reading book #2 asap. It’s waiting for me to pick it up at the library. *dances in delicious delight*)

    1. :punch: Glad you enjoyed it too! 😀

      And I completely see where you’re coming from Cait. The 2nd half might have been annoying because it was almost…a different story, you know? Anyway, I’m glad you ended up loving it in the end!

      Looking forward to seeing what you think of Book 2!

  10. YAY Zoe I am glad you finally read the book! I agree, it took a bit of getting used to because it is SO different to other YA books out there, but I think to this day the storyline was still memorable and unique for me. And I LOVE her writing. I haven’t read the other 2 yet though! Lovely review as always <3

    1. Thank you Jeann! I am so glad I read it! 😀

      It took a bit of getting used to because it is SO different to other YA books out there, but I think to this day the storyline was still memorable and unique for me.

      I completely agree – once you’re absorbed into the story, you’re absolutely hooked, you know? It’s just getting into it that’s a bit difficult. 🙂

      Thank you! :heart: I look forward to seeing what you think of the next two when you read them!

  11. I do want to read to read these books at some point, because I’m quite curious. I try and keep my expectations in check though, because hype really CAN affect a novel. I’m glad you liked it overall though!!

  12. I’m really glad you still liked it even though there were some problems! I didn’t notice the weird writing style, so I was ok with it. And also, Akiva is just, well to me nothing really characterized him well. BUT ANYWAYS. I understand the hype train though. IT DESTROYS YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

    Nice review Zoe! Looking forward to you reading Days of Blood & Starlight!

  13. Totally agree that this one really stands out against the usual YA angel books (which are typically notoriously bad like you mentioned) and I was also impressed with this one. I can understand expecting a little more from it though, I think the hype and expectations would have done the same to me. All that being said, the series only gets better, in my opinion 😀

    1. I am glad we were both impressed Alise! 😉 The hype definitely forced my expectations a bit too high, but it was rewarding regardless. 🙂 And I am so excited to hear that the story continues to improve! 🙂

  14. It’s been a while since I’ve read this one, but really enjoyed it and planning on rereading my autographed copy again soon (thanks to Gina at Behind The Pages who sent me a surprise). I think it takes a little getting used to, because it IS so different from the regular YA read. For me it felt much darker and the world Laini Taylor painted was so incredibly vivid. The great thing is that I’ve heard this series gets better with each book. Looking forward to seeing what you think of the next installment Zoe, I’ll be reading it soon too. Incredible review <3

    1. You lucky duck! 😉 It’s definitely different from the typical YA read, but in the best way, you know? I definitely agree that the world is so vivid and well-imagined. And everyone has been mentioning that the series gets better and better, so I am SO excited to see where it goes! Thank you! :blush:

  15. I get what you mean about all the hype on this series. Oh, I love the characters too! But I can see where you are coming from with the insta-love, but there is a reason for it, so it does make up for it and not make it insta-love in a way (if you get what I mean). Hmmm, maybe you should give it a re-read, you might get into it a lot more now that you are used to her writing style and the character names (P.S, there are more confusing names to come in the next books, especially the last book). Love your review!!

    1. I definitely think if I do ever reread it it might be a much better read because I’m much more adjusted to the character names and the writing style. 🙂 And ha! That should be interesting…LOL! Thank you! <3

  16. I read this book last year and I thought, I was going to be blown away because everyone was gushing about it. Sadly, it was an average angel book for me minus the stupidity of Hush, Hush. The prose was beautiful but the plot was quite MEH. The romance was the main plot driver and the way the fell in love years and years ago was some sort of an instalove which didn’t sit well with me.

    But at least, this one still got a 4 star rating from you.:D

    1. Aww…I’m sorry you weren’t as impressed with it as you would have hoped Charlotte! 🙁 I can definitely see where you’re coming from though. 🙂

  17. I definitely agree about how hard it is to get into the writing. I remember trying this years ago, and I stopped half way because I just couldn’t get into it. I plan to try this again in the future. (Peer pressure does that to me.)

    I definitely think this story’s unique and that the characters are odd… in a good way, of course, but I’m really not sure if the writing’s for me. We’ll see when I try it again. 😉

    Awesome review, Zoe! Glad you enjoyed this, even if it wasn’t as amazing as you expected. (It’s definitely going to be a predictable read for me since Dyan accidentally spoiled me. -_-)

    1. Phew! I’m glad I’m not the only one that found it hard to get into the writing. I’m sorry you’re feeling the “not-for-me” vibe though…that stinks! 🙁

      Tsk tsk Dyan! 😐 Ha..just kidding. Sorry you got spoiled though! 🙁

  18. I really enjoyed this book. I read it when the hype wasn’t as huge. My problem with it was that it started to feel like two separate stories rather than one cohesive one. Great review as always!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it Dana! 🙂 If you read it when the hype wasn’t as big, it might have been easier to enjoy, you know? 🙂 And I completely see where you’re coming from! I felt that way too, but it didn’t really impact me in a negative way. Thank you!

  19. Oh I am sad you didn’t love this more. I adored this one. I read it when it first came out and I thought the story and the writing were breathtaking. This remains one of my all time favs.

  20. I haven’t started this one yet, even though I own it. I’ve been thinking about it for so long now, but the massive hype put me off. I didn’t want to be let down. Your review has helped me to lower my expectations a bit, and not expect this book to absolutely blow me away. I am looking forward to Taylor’s writing style though.

    1. You haven’t Charnell? I have a feeling you’ll like it though! Definitely don’t be afraid of the hype – this is one of those books that can stand without it. 🙂 It’s a good read, but I’m afraid the hype might make it out to be bigger than it actually is, so if you lower your expectations, I suspect you’ll probably really enjoy it. 🙂

  21. 3.8 stars is pretty darn good I’d say! 😀

    I’d just picked this one up after it’s been sitting on my shelf for half a year because Laini Taylor was in Sydney! Woop woop!

    I read the first two chapters on the train and found it really engrossing. Her language is beautiful, and I found myself immersed in the story very easily.Haven’t gotten very far into the book yet, so will have to see how much I continue to enjoy it.

    It sucks to hear that there is instalove in this one. I would have thought in such a huge book, the romance would be developed better. The Czech names are confusing aren’t they? But I find them beautiful at the same time. Prague was one of the best cities I visited in Europe, so I’m so excited to read about it.

    Wonderful review Zoe, thanks for the honesty. I hope I end up liking the book! xx

    1. It definitely is! 😀 And I am so glad you’re enjoying it so far! Looking forward to seeing what you think in the end. 😀 And once you get used to them, the Czech names are wonderful!

      Thank you! <3

  22. Wonderful review! So glad you enjoyed it! I read it awhile ago, not long after it came — before the hype & without knowing much about it. I was really impressed with it by the end. The beginning was slow start for me, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I really liked it & thought it was beautifully written!! I need to read the rest of the series though!! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Thank you Tricia! I imagine it would have been a much better read without the hype and the pressure to read it! 😉 It sounds like we have similar feelings though – the beginning being a bit slow, but the pace picking up eventually. I do agree that the writing is amazing though!

  23. Great review! I have the first two books in this series sitting around waiting to be read, but I am nervous! Mainly because of the getting into the world issue. It is so hit or miss for me with fantasy books. But I am going to give it a shot, the great writing and characters sound like they could be enough to entice me to figure out the world!

    1. Thank you Shannon! 😀 I know the hype for this is really excessive, but this is so good it can probably stand without any hype. So glad to hear you’re going to give it a try though despite being a bit wary initially!

  24. Even though you seem to be a bit disappointed, I am glad you enjoyed it. See, I felt the hype as well but I didn’t expect it to be extraordinary–was my 2nd book read in Enlish so maybe there’s a pattern lol. Anyway, I must admit that the pacing sure was very slow and yeah predictable by moments but the characters so great. Fantastic review, Zoe!

    1. I’m glad you liked it so much Lola! 😀 And it’s such a relief to not have been the only person to notice the slow pacing initially and the slight predictability; but, like you said, I think that’s foreshadowed by the wonderful characters and fantastic writing.

  25. Girl you have no idea how happy I’m you enjoyed this one! I have heard such amazing things about it but I’m so scared because of all the hype. I think I expect too much. But that writing is something I need to see and forbidden romance! Sign me in. Great review, Zoe 🙂

    1. Very happy, I’m guessing? 😉 And don’t be scared of the hype Tanja! I know it’s only natural to be afraid of it, but this stands on its own. Thank you! <3

  26. Wonderful review, Zoe. I definitely feel very similar about this book. I’ve wanted to read it since it was first published, but only got around to it near the end of August. Hence, my expectations were sky-high, and I came away disappointed, although I did think that it was unique and enjoyable. Are you planning on reading DoBaS? I hope to get to it sometime this month. Your review as nailed my feelings on their heads, and our ratings were very similar too – my overall rating ended up being 4.

    1. Thank you Ebony! 😀 And yeah for someone who feels the same way! 😀 And yes, I am! It’s on hold for me at the library, so hopefully by the end of the month too. 🙂 I’ll have to find your review and see your similar thoughts!

  27. Like you, I was pretty hesitant to read this one due to the fact that most of the angel/demon I’ve read (aside from Unbound and its successive sequels) were so bad. But I read it not too long ago, giving in to the suggestions of everyone around me, and loved it. Loved, loved, loved it. I I loved the writing, the atmosphere, and the flawed characters. But yeah, you’re right it could be a bit predictable. I wish Karou wasn’t M. That was just too predictable for me and I hated that twist, but oh well. Haha.

    1. I am so glad you loved it so much Faye! 😀 I completely agree with what you said about being hesitant to read this due to unsuccessful novels in the genre (Fallen, Hush Hush), but, like you said, this definitely stands on its own. 😀

      And YES! That particular twist was a bit predictable for me too, but it was still enjoyable. 🙂

  28. I just bought this book yesterday because 10+ people have recommended it to me. And I’m having high expectations over it since it’s hyped everywhere! I love your review! I also can’t get used to the names because they seem so strange & uncommon. I can see why some parts didn’t work well with you.

    1. YEAH! So glad you got a copy Jillian! 🙂 I look forward to seeing what you think. The names are a bit hard to warm up to because they’re so…foreign, but once you get into the story it gets easier. 🙂 Thank you!

  29. I haven’t read this one yet. It’s been sitting on my shelf for a very long time now. Calling to me… 😛

    I understand what you’re saying about the book hype. That’s why I’m kind of hesitant at reading this. But I’ll admit that the cover, the blurb and that opening sentence really appeals to me. So yeah, I will still read it.

    Great review, Zoe. Looking forward to your thoughts on the sequel 🙂

    1. If you’re worried about the book hype Paula, definitely disregard it. This is one of those rare novels that can stand on its own. 🙂 Let me know what you think when you read it, okay? 😀 Thank you!

  30. I’ve just been to Cait’s Smokey Boneys post and now I’m reading yours and the feels are killing me. I need to reread this so bad. I definitely get why this book didn’t work out for you in several aspects. Laini’s worldbuilding could get really heavy at times but her splendid writing really makes up for it. Here’s hoping you love the next installments better. Lovely review, Zoe!

    1. I completely agree Sarah. It was a wonderful book, it’s just it took me a bit to warm up to her writing style and the Czech names. 🙂 Thank you!

  31. I read this book but I found that it was just really out there. He’s so much older than her and the writing style was too different for me. The story was great though. I loved her past and the slow revealing. Great review!

    -M
    The Life of Little Me

  32. Yeah, agreed! Hype is a big scary monster constantly ruining our parties. Hahaha! Don’t insult my guilty pleasure 😀 *eyes Hush Hush* I shouldn’t love it, but I do like the series no matter what anyone says. I hate Fallen though. Ugh. LAINI TAYLOR IS A MAGICIAN!!!!!!!! I was angry at Akiva too, but then again.. I understand where he was coming from and obviously he feels hurt by this more than anyone. I need to read the rest of the trilogy and find out what happens next lol. Agreed! Laini Taylor’s writing is just magic! Yep, it was a tad predictable since well.. The past thing? Yeah. Pretty predictable. I still love this book to no end though and I’m glad you loved it too, Zoe! Gorgeous review, lovely 🙂

  33. I read this book recently as well, but unlike you I had no idea there was any hype at all! I think that’s what made me LOVE it. I really really enjoyed it. I agree that it was predictable but I kind of enjoyed that twist. Great review, Zoe.

    P.S. I’m back from my (unannounced) hiatus! XD

  34. I agree, the writing style is what definitely shines in this book, along with the unique concept and general amazingness of the story itself! I haven’t completely finished the book at this point yet, but it is addicting and I can’t wait to see how it ends and what happens next in the rest of the series. Awesome review Zoe!

  35. I felt the reverse about the hype. I really didn’t think I would like it because it was so popular. Then, I was surprised by how much I liked it.
    You are way better than me at prediction with this story. I was so confused I thought that Karou had a different sort of relationship with Akiva that I can’t talk about here! I don’t know how I got to this conclusion… They put off the reveal for a long time so that’s probably why. I don’t know where this is going to go with Akiva and Karou. I don’t think what Akiva did actually happened. In the next book I would be surprised if that person didn’t get away.
    Haha (: – Vagueness overload up above.

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