Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1)

Release Date: September 27, 2011
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Length: 418 pages

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 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?


Protagonist: Karou is unlike any heroine I've read before. While she immersed in this world of fantasy, she doesn't know her exact place in it. The only life she remembers is one with Brimstone and the other chimaera she's known her whole life, but she's human, not chimaera. I really loved the mystery of Karou's identity, even when it became apparent that who or what she is was the main plot of the story. Most YA series introductions get the whole identity crisis out of the before the book is even halfway over and then spends the rest of the time setting up the overarching plot for the rest of the series. Instead this book leaves the definitive answer to who Karou is until nearly the end and sets up the main plot along the way.

Romance: Comparing this romance to Romeo and Juliet is an egregious understatement. The parallels are everywhere and it was hard not to come to the conclusion that Laini Taylor was inspired by the play as she wrote this. Karou and Akiva come from two different worlds. Karou is allied with the chimaera she loves and Akiva is a Seraph, a fiery winged angel who are the mortal enemies of the chimaera. There's an instant connection however and after a few intense fights these two begin to fall in love. There's no love triangle, and from the looks of it there may not be one, or at least not a serious one, coming up in the next novels.

World-Building: Like I said this book strikes a strong resemblance to Romeo and Juliet. From the two warring races to the star-crossed lovers, this book is rife with connections to the famous play. The best part about the entire thing is that there is no good or bad side, it's all a matter of perspective, well that and no one really knows why these races fight and have made up ridiculous myths to show their side in the better light. This book really highlights the fact that no matter what you look like or what race you belong to, there's good and bad in all of us.

Predictability: Taylor is such a tease! Like I said, I had no idea that Karou's identity would be such a large part of this installment and so whenever it seemed like we were about to find out who she really is, something always happened. Even when Karou figures out who she is I only had a vague theory about it. In fact it's not until after she find out, and we have to wait many chapters to be told, that the real foreshadowing begins. There is so much revealed in those chapters that it made up for the rest of the book having little to no foreshadowing or shocking moments. It was amazing and totally unique and it made this book all the more perfect. When we do find out who Karou is, and it's pretty unbelievable, everything starts to click into place.

Ending: The ending was a bit somber, it was something hinted at throughout the book, but it was first alluded to so late in the story that when it finally happens it completely shocking. I was totally thrown off and confused and angry and sad and had all of these emotions about the ending. There is a fairly big cliffhanger, so word of warning have the second book close as you finish this book.


So through most of this book I was planning on giving it 4-4.5 crests, but once everything fell into place and the grand scheme of Laini Taylor's writing is revealed it would have been impossible to rate this any lower than 5 stars. I've heard some people stopped reading this book after a couple hundred pages because they found it confusing and going no where, I would just like to urge those people to continue as everything will make sense near the end.



  1. Yes! The writing in the book was amazing as well! Taylor has such beautiful writing; I'm jealous. The way she describes her characters is just amazing, and I dont' think I can say amazing enough to get my point across that her writing is amazing.

    And I agree with you and the whole "the entire plot was Karou's identity." At first, I didn't make the connection, but now that you've said it, I totally see it! And the romance in this book was beautiful (and amazing) as well. Everything was just so great in the book.

    YA Book Queens

  2. The writing style. World building. Characters. Romance. Everything about this book is just beautiful :). Mind. Blowing. I just received the second book in the mail - can't wait!!

    Keely @ Realms of an Open Mind

  3. (This is Darith L.)

    I really want to start this series! This sounds like a really awesome fantasy novel. I do own the first two books, but I still have to get to them. I'm glad you enjoyed it, so I will definitely get to them soon. :D

  4. Oh, I REALLY need to find this book at my school library. Everyone's so excited for the next book and I haven't even read the first! Definitely putting it on my TBR list.

  5. I've been DYING to read this book! I'm glad you liked it; now I HAVE to pick it up!