Review – Daughter of Smoke and Bone
  • Posted:
  • July 12, 2011

I acquired an ARC of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor last week. Figuring it deserved my complete attention, I decided to read it on an eight+ hour road trip followed by a camping weekend. It was, in all honesty, the perfect book to take with me on my trip. Karou lives in Prague and studies fine art… in one life. In her other life she runs bizarre errands for Brimstone, a Chimaera responsible for raising Karou. The errands – collecting teeth; teeth of all kinds and quality through portals that launch her into different parts of the world. As payment Brimstone grants her with a variety of small wishes, wishes that extract a price from somewhere though Karou has no notion of that. One day when a botched mission in Morocco almost costs Karou her life she encounters Akiva, of the Fallen, and learns of an ancient grudge between the two races, and of her part in both of their worlds.

I fell utterly, madly in love with this book. This story is, for all intents and purposes, shocking. And beautiful. And shocking. I can’t really even begin to describe it as it is one of the oddest mythologies I have ever come across in any series, let alone a YA novel. At first it reads like a Gaiman novel, all cheek and fantasy and markets. Then, somewhere along the way, the book turns itself on end and becomes something entirely new and completely its own unique masterpiece. Wow, I’m a little in awe of this book. It’s breathtaking.

Taylor’s idea is incomplete without a few neat things she did – tenders of wishes for currency, glorious repetitive jokes about wise men with mustaches (she could have used about three more for my tastes), and lyrical phraseology. Wow, the writing in this book is sick. Taylor composes thoughts in word scapes that are picturesquely crafted. There’s a brutal savagery to her work; a coy narrative that flirts and teases the reader until the final, profoundly climatic end. I was stunned by how she tied all of this together and felt spent at the end. I didn’t have anything left to give emotionally after completing this book. I was glad I was mostly alone in the woods.

I know this will be one of those books that I will have to reread when the next one comes out. It’s that complex of a world. Still, it’s one of the best of 2011, at least in my top ten. I’m so awed by this book.

5 out of 5 stars.

– BP

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Katie DeKoster

2012-03-06 15:19:32 Reply

I just finished reading DoSaB this morning and had to write my review immediately so that nothing of the story could fly out of my head! You are so right – Taylor added so many brilliant things to the story, that could easily get overshadowed by the romance. The wishes, the mustaches of wisdom – she is just so darn creative! Are you following SLJ’s Battle of the Books?? This one is up again Dead End in Norvelt. I haven’t read Gantos’ book yet, but right now I don’t see how Taylor could lose!