Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Just finished reading DoSaB and before I start this book I will firstly say that I loved it. I haven’t read any of Laini Taylor’s other novels before but I will certainly take a look now as her story telling is almost magical. This was one of those novels that was just hard to put down, I was engrossed by the story from the first page, the writing was, quite simply, beautiful, the ideas are original, it’s thought provoking, the settings are gothic and I found that if I had a free minute, even just waiting for somebody, a bus, my tea to cook, the kettle to boil, I had the book in my hand and was hard pressed to close it and focus on anything else. In fact it made be quite rude and belligerent because I quite resented when I did have to put it down.
About the story. The thing with this book is it’s been shrouded with mystery, the jacket gives nothing away at all as does the name or the cover and so I don’t particularly want to do so either. In other words you’ll just have to read it yourself to find out what the story is about – although there are also a number of excellent trailers which give a few clues.
However, we have Karou. What a brilliant character – I loved her voice, her sense of humour, her sarcasm and her blue hair! She is fierce, independent, loyal to her family and friend (yes, friend). She is an artist who draws the strangest images of people and places and she sometimes disappears for days at a time.
We also have an amazing setting. I’m sure I read a review which virtually said ‘why Prague’ but why not Prague? The descriptions were brilliant, dark, eerie, almost vampireish? Winding, narrow streets, old fashioned facades, long shadows and then there’s the café where Karou and her friend, art students, usually spend most of their time after classes. I loved this café filled with gas mask wearing statues, dark corners and the aromoa of goulash. I can easily imagine people reading this and immediately dashing off to Prague – to see the alternative, hidden, dark and secret version.
And, we also have Karou’s strange family. Brimstone is brilliant, working constantly,and almost desperately, in a shop that connects to anywhere in the world. He collects teeth (which is a mystery to Karou who frequently has to go on strange missions to collect his packages). She never knows where the door she leaves from will lead her to and she could literally end up in Marakesh or Paris! I loved the whole idea of these strange portals, just open the door you’ve walked in using and instead of being back out on your old street you’re in an exotic market place on the other side of the world, Such an intriguing idea that puts me in mind of the Labyrinthe and it’s intricate mysteries. Back to the family though. Karou’s family are demons or chimaera and are completely different than anything in the ‘real’ world. Brimstone has large curved horns that curl back over his head like goat horns, he is fierce and won’t be defied. He keeps secrets from Karou and forbids her to enter certain doors. Of course we all know that forbidding something just makes it that much more attractive. The funny thing is that all Karou’s family are made of different parts, part animal and part human and yet LT describes them in such a way that they appear lovely, and normal, like you wouldn’t be surprised to walk into your local newsagents tomorrow and find he had goat’s legs or a snake’s body.
Then moving on, and giving a little bit of the story away, dark hand marks start to appear on the portal doors all over the world and strange and beautiful people who seem both amazing and terrifying and whose shadows don’t match their bodies start to appear.
So, criticisms, I think it’s clear that I love this book. The only niggles (not even really criticisms) are, I don’t particularly like Akira – now I know everyone is probably going to jump on me now like a duck on a June bug but I’m sorry, I really don’t like him. He’s cruel. And I think it will be difficult to get over and forgive some of his actions. Also, at this stage, I’m not loving the romance element (I guess that goes without saying seeing how I don’t like Akira) – but I can see that it’s going to develop, it’s just not the main focus for me. And, finally, I preferred the first two thirds of the book to the end but again, I can understand why that is. The last third had a lot of catching up with historical events to relay and this was well told but I think I was anxious to be back in the ‘here and now’ of the story. That being said the ending has opened us up for so much more adventure.
So, first and foremost, what I really loved about this is the story telling. LT can certainly weave a tale not to mention turn things on their head. We have demons and angels but everything isn’t always as it seems. We have a war but neither side can remember the reason why it started. We have deep rooted hatred and prejudice. Not everything is always as it seems and that definitely comes through strongly in this story.
I can’t wait to see what comes next. I need a necklace of wishes or my own portal so that I can magic the next book here – right now!