Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, division of Hachette Book Group
Description from Goodreads:
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 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 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?
I was introduced to this series by a friend and I have to say, I was pretty skeptical at first. It took me weeks to go out and buy the first book because I was certain that I’d hate it. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I cracked open this book first the first time yesterday. I had the majority of this book finished in less than 24 hours.
What I liked:
Karou is one of those characters whom you instantly like. She’s unique not only in her look, but in her personality and her characteristics. She looks completely different from the average Y.A. heroine with her blue hair, black eyes, and excess of tattoos. Karou is an artist with friends that are a little offbeat and hilarious. They hang out at a bar with classical statues with gas masks on their faces and coffins for tables. Karou is also mysterious. She’s determined and loyal and is a little too good at leading a secret double life. There is a part of herself that even she doesn’t know. This mystery unfolds itself throughout the book, but I liked this bit of self-discovery that was added in among the fantastical and mystical characters. I took an instant liking to her because she’s a character who’s not afraid to be different.
I really enjoyed the setting as well: Prague. Having travelled there recently, I felt myself swept up by Taylor’s description of the city with it’s beautiful architecture, mysterious alleys, and spanning bridges. Her words hit the nail right on the head and brought me right back to this place in perfect detail. I think her setting, so out of the ordinary, but so perfect for this story, really brought the story to life for me.
You can tell that this book is intentionally set up as the first book in the series. Taylor doesn’t try to rush her story or her characters. Everything unfolds in a romantically intentional way so that the reader is seduced on each page by the characters who reveal themselves bit by bit. There wasn’t a whole lot of action in this book, but there was tons of character establishment. We learn who is important to the plot and we get some sense of what is to come in subsequent books. Too often series are created after the first book, a fully contained story of its own, is produced. The first book feels contained and the following books are never as good as the first. They always seem to be forced. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, you can tell, was a series from the start. The story is set up to be told over the course of 3 novels. I have high hopes for the next two books.
What I didn’t like (as much):
Not much. Taylor has an interesting way of revealing information bit by bit. She holds back a lot of crucial information, sharing it only as she feels necessary. I found this sometimes frustrating because certain chapters are confusing without this information, however, she does an excellent job of pulling it all together in the end. And although I was frustrated, Taylor, through her writing style, was putting me in the same position as Karou, lost and confused until the right character comes along to reveal any essential knowledge.
I’m starting the next book soon. I can’t wait to see what story awaits me.