Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

November 2011 Kirra Rohan

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, is the first in what promises to be a breathtaking series. It focuses on a girl named Karou, a blue-haired art student in Prague who spends most of her time drawing monsters in dozens of sketchbooks. While she lives a semi-normal life at school, her home is decidedly not normal. She lives with her foster family of chimaera – what we would most likely consider to be monsters. There’s Issa, with her serpent body, the giraffe-necked Twiga, Yasri with a parrot-beak…but most important, there is Brimstone, her ‘father’. Brimstone has a rather curious business. He deals in teeth and wishes. Wishes come in denominations, you see, and he deals them out to people who bring him teeth. Though Karou uses the smaller level wishes, she doesn’t know what Brimstone does with the teeth. Karou doesn’t know anything about her past – where she came from, who her parents are, or why she is now living in Prague with a bunch of ‘monsters’, running errands for Brimstone.

This book has so much going on in it that it’s impossible to truly summarize it without ruining something. It’s a story about identity, about the battle between angels and devils, about romance and the hope that comes with feeling that someone loves you. Now take everything you know about all of these topics and throw it out the window. Taylor does an amazing job turning these typical stories into something fantastical, with so many twists and turns that you’ll never be able to guess what’s going to happen.

In fact, Taylor summarizes the book best on the first page:

“Once upon a time,
an angel and a devil fell in love.
It did not end well.”

The next four hundred or so pages tell this story.

I can’t review this book without talking about how beautiful the writing is. If you’ve ever read her book Lips Touch: Three Times (which if you haven’t, you should) you’ll understand. Taylor has a way with words unlike any author I’ve ever read. From the elaborate descriptions of the city to the detailed, heart-pounding pages of fighting, everything Taylor writes is lyrical, ethereal, and unforgettable.

Not only is the writing outstanding, the worldbuilding is extremely complex. Without spoiling anything, Taylor did a beautiful job not only recreating Prague and the other cities Karou visits, but detailing the other worlds as well. The difference facets of the chimaera and the Seraphim were incredibly in-depth, especially when it came to the value of wishes.

Honestly, the only bad thing about this book was that it had to end! Lucky for us, there isn’t too long of a wait before the sequel comes out – it’s projected to be released September of 2012, which gives you plenty of time to read it. ;)