Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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?
Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone has been a pretty hyped up, beloved book for the past few years, but I’ve avoided it for the most part. Why? Well, mainly due to that hype and the fact that I got a bit sick of hearing about how amazing this book is. I know, it’s silly to avoid a book that so many people seem to love, but that’s just the type of person that I am. This book started out really strongly for me but stumbled when the romance started to take over.
I started reading this right after I started another book that’s very long, planning on reading this one whenever I wanted a break from the other book (The Diviners). Well, I ended up liking both books a ton, so I read the first forty or so pages of this book before taking a small break to finish the first book. Luckily, I don’t think this broke up my momentum, and I jumped right back into this book easily, enjoying myself just as much.
The beginning could be a little confusing with so many different names and unusual appearances to remember, but I loved jumping into this new world. I wanted to know what was happening and why Karou ended up with Brimstone. I was also moderately interested in finding out what was Akiva’s past, but I cared the most about Karou, her friends and family, and her world.
As a result, things slightly went downhill once the romance began to take focus. For one thing, it didn’t feel quite genuine to me. Something happens later that could explain what seems to be bordering on insta-love, at least for me, but I don’t think it explained it all away completely. Then, the last fourth or so of the book seemed to be consumed with their relationship and some events that happened prior to the book that have to do with their relationship. It was kind of interesting to see more of the world beyond Brimstone’s doors and learning more about Brimstone through these flashbacks, but when it focused on the romance, I just wanted to return to Karou’s life and her experiences rather than the flashbacks.
I’m sad that things kind of went downhill when the romance became the focus of the last fourth or so of the book, but I really enjoyed the beginning, Karou (when she wasn’t obsessing over Akiva), and her family and friends. I was also unhappy with the ending, but that’s not because it was a bad ending, but because something bad happened and made me both mad and sad. Either way, I plan on checking out the sequel, which will hopefully focus less on the romance and more on Karou’s unique background and non-romantic relationships.