Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
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?
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 »While I was furious as to what he did at the end of the story, I do realize where he was coming from and I think it made sense coming from his character and his personality. « Hide 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?