Monday, June 16, 2014

Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) - Laini Taylor

Hardcover, US, 418 pages
Published September 27th 2011
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

“Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?” 

Goodreads Synopsis

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

My Review

“Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.” 

This one had a really interesting synopsis. Otherworldly war? Devil's supply of human teeth?!! Star-crossed love? Violent pasts?

Needless to say, I was hooked.

The book started out on a mysterious note, with our protagonist Karou- an art student in Prague- being harassed by her stalkerish ex boyfriend who lands up as a model in her art class to torment her. But Karou repays him in kind with a bit of 'wishful thinking'. 

For real. As in the kind where she wished him a nasty case of itches and it came true. 

This is where her bizarre character development starts and keeps getting more mystifying- ranging from the blue hair that grows straight out of her head to her frequent visits to one terrifying teeth collector who lives with a snake woman in some other dimension which can only be reached through a portal.

It's a while before the world building starts to make sense and I was able to discern that the story revolved around Chimaera and Angels- arch nemesis by birth and caught in a brutal and bloody war for centuries. Though this explained the basis of the forbidden love and the war, other aspects of the story like the teeth collector and Karou's relationship and past(?) with Akiva, the gorgeous angel remained a conundrum for quite some time. 

The world building was electrifying. Neither overdone and perplexing, nor wishy-washy and nondescript. Karou and Akiva were both perfectly balanced characters and fit together nicely. The plot was intriguing and writing was fantastic with an almost lyrical twinge to it. 

“Love is a luxury.
No. Love is an element.
An element. Like air to breathe, earth to stand on.” 

The only thing that struck me as odd was the casual way in which the two worlds- the supernatural and the normal one- were mixed together. For instance the blasé acceptance of the townsfolk of flying creatures resembling human beings and the apathetic attitude of Karou's friend towards her powers and upbringing were a bit unsettling.

Apart from this minor snag the book was quite a riveting read with a painful ending that had me craving for the sequel immediately. 

Book Trailer:

Highly recommended. Rating: 4.5/5 stars!

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