Friday, January 18, 2013

Daughter of Smoke & Bone: a review

By Laini Tayor
4 / 5 Gnomes

A review in 10 words or less:  An ancient war and a love that defeats death.

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?

~Amazon Description~

So, I read books quickly.  Apparently, I have the mentality of getting through a book as quickly as possible and not savoring it, not enjoying it, not fully understanding the story.  It comes down to that guilt thing I mentioned in last week's Top 10 Tuesday.  There's just too many books and too little time.  Reading so quickly often necessitates a second reading to continue series.  If I just took the time the first go around, I might possibly remember enough to get me through book two, or three.  But alas, that is not my way.  This was my second reading of Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  I remembered pretty much nothing, which made moving on to Days of Blood and Starlight a little daunting.  Oh my, how much I missed the first time around.

The Breakdown:

Karou lives in Prague (again with a story set in Prague!)  She also sort of lives in this "other" world in which Chimera trade wishes for teeth.  Sounds a little weird, but stay with me.  No one else really knows about this "other" world, and Karou has done a pretty excellent job keeping it secret until black handprints start to appear on all of the doors that lead to the chimera.  Living among two worlds isn't easy for Karou.  She can't shake the feeling that something is missing, she's not whole, until she meets a Seraphim, or angel, that she is inexplicably drawn to.  She realizes that he may hold the secrets she has longed to learn.

The Awesome: 

First, I must mention that the cover is beautiful.  B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-LIf the book hadn't been selected for book club, I would have been drawn in eventually.

I like books where there isn't an easily distinguishable good and evil, morally ambiguous.  You understand the point of view of both sides, causing you to root for the "goodie" and the "badie" at the same time.  The chimera are monsters and the seraphim angels.  You think it would be a pretty easy decision...but no.  Taylor does an excellent job of showing that everyone has good and bad in them, darkness and light.

The true draw of the book though is most definitely the love story.  Karou and Akiva's connection is instantaneous.  It's almost primal, and it's definitely steamy.

The Not So Awesome: 

It' really a personal dislike and not a "not so awesome."  I'm not a huge fan of the flashback.  It can take you out of the here and now, the urgency of the situation.  Taylor does it well though, giving you enough to make you understand and feel that urgency, but not enough to drag the story along. 

This is a fantasy with substance.  Taylor does an excellent job developing the history, crafting a story that goes beyond the bits of magic and heart-wrenching love story.  I can't wait to start the sequel.

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