Published: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1
Pages: 422 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
Around the world, black hand prints 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 grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly 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?
I never realized how much I needed Laini Taylor’s madly awesome books in my reading repertoire prior to last month. Now I’m doing that thing where I obsessively read everything a new favorite author of mine has ever published. In this case, that meant beginning Daughter of Smoke & Bone, which before now was something I wasn’t really interested in. Now I’m pretty much head over heels for Karou, Akiva, Zuzana, and Mik!
Many books tend to have either characters or plot developed much more than the other. With this particular book, the characters shine most brightly at the beginning but as the book progresses the plot begins to shine almost as brightly. From the very first pages I was unbearably curious about Karou’s misfit family of chimaera. Where did they come from? How did Karou come to be raised by them? What’s with all the teeth?
That last question is really the most interesting. Karou’s chimaera family are in the business of trading teeth for wishes. Hunters, grave robbers, slavers and worse come through the doors of Brimstone’s otherworldly shop to bring teeth from every toothed species you can imagine to trade in for wishes of varying degrees of strength. The teeth are sorted and inspected and sometimes Karou will even travel through other portal-doors to collect from those banned from Brimstone’s shop (like a magical blue-haired mollisher). Karou doesn’t know what the teeth are for and therefore neither does the reader. This grabbed my curiosity by the throat and shook- WHY THE TEETH!? Rest assured, you do find out eventually but I won’t be the one to spoil your fun!
Here it is, the fourth paragraph, and I’ve barely even mentioned the characters! There is, of course, Karou of the naturally blue hair, bullet scars, and 90+ sketchbooks who plays the starring role in Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Then there’s her BFF Zuzana whose petite frame is filled with mock malice and judgement. Akiva is also kind of a big deal, what with his tiger’s eyes and burning wings. Oh yeah, did I mention he’s an angel (or more correctly, a seraphim) and they happen to be the mortal enemies of the chimaera? Then we’ve got Brimstone, Issa, Yasri, and Twiga who are Karou’s unusual family. I especially liked Brimstone for his gruff fatherliness and Issa for her love of human gossip.
Overall, this book was really, truly awesome! My only real complaint is that Akiva + Karou kind of have that insta-love thing going on and it does get a bit over the top with ooey-gooey feelings. What starts out as completely silly insta-love does get explained after a major plot reveal later in the book, so it’s definitely something I could live with. I was so hooked that I started the second book almost immediately afterwards! I listened to the audiobook, which I highly recommend because the narration was beautifully done and really enhanced the experience of the story. I’ll be continuing with this format for the rest of the series because it was great!