Well, hello, all! I write to you from sunny Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama! Here, it is 1:23 in the morning and while I am exhausted from a day of wave-whacking, football-playing, and pina colada drinking fun, I am thrilled to have finished yet another book, but do remember that am writing this from an iPad so please forgive any spelling errors, lack of GIFs, and overall strangeness! Anyway, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Ms. Laini Taylor.
So, I really don’t know where to start with this. I guess I should start with a description of the book, then go from there. Shall we?
Karou is a seventeen-year-old art student living in Prague. She is a very strange girl. With interesting tattoos scrawled all over her, bright blue hair that grows out of her head that way, and all her mysterious “errands” she has to run, Karou can never have real friends. She just has too many secrets. But some secrets are being kept from her as well.
Karou is being raised by a strange family, if you can even call them that. They’re technically demons. And she’s being raised by them. Karou grows up running errands for Brimstone, the demon that has raised her (for no apparent reason) from a child. What does she do on these errands? She collects teeth.
But that isn’t the end of the weirdness. Karou doesn’t just collect teeth, but Brimstone pays her in wishes. It’s how she got her bright blue hair, after all. But Brimstone never gives her any real wishes, wishes that have more power. Why? That we don’t know.
Akiva is an angel with a troubled past. He fell in love with one of these “demons” (they aren’t actual, biblical demons, mind you, but rather just creatures made to sound like demons) once and she was slaughtered in front of him so naturally, the beautiful angel has some issues.
Akiva and Karou meet while Karou is out on an errand. Akiva sees her from afar, while he is fulfilling his own mission, which is burning handprints on all the doorways that lead to Brimstone’s shop in another dimention. Akiva is intrigued by Karou immediately and follows her (sensing inta-love guys…) to where Karou is meeting with a graverobber who hopefully has some teeth for Brimstone, since his supplies are running dangerously low. What does Brimstone do with these teeth? I don’t know … why don’t you wait and find out?
Akiva is spotted by the graverobber’s little Fallen angel that the graverobber is burdened with (long story … don’t ask) and Karou sees him. INSTA-LOVE! The second she sees him, she basically falls in love with him. But I’ve seen worse insta-love.
Karou is enamored with Akiva for all of three seconds until the graverobber shouts for Karou to run and warm Brimstone, which she does. Karou runs as quickly as her legs can carry her, but obviously the angel is faster. He catches up to her and is about to kill her when he decides not to. Great for Karou, bad for angel, because Karou gets away and warns Brimstone, though it does little.
Then, out of nowhere, all the doors that lead to Brimstone’s shop, around the world, have been burned. Karou’s way to Brimstone and her weird family has been destroyed and Karou is left in Prague to suffer in her loneliness. That is, until Akiva finds her there. But he “just wants to talk.” Oddly enough, the two spark up a friendship, but it’s clear they’re both totally in love with each other. And then Akiva’s angel brother and sister find out about the relationship. Let’s just say they aren’t happy.
While Karou has wondered all of her life who she is and where she comes from, Akiva is the one to actually figure it out, and the truth will confuse everyone.
Alright, so review time!
Before I begin, let me tell you that there will be spoilers in this review because I really can’t explain the bok and my opinion of it without reviewing the spoilers. Sorry! It’s pretty crucial in this case. So if you plan to read the book and would prefer not to know everything about it beforehand, then stop reading now.
Awesome. For those of you who remain, let us begin.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone will be difficult to review. I’m not sure whether I liked it or disliked it. I was certain I disliked it from about the halfway point all the way up to the ending, then thought, “What? It can’t end like that! What happens next?” As intended. Laini, you clever little lass!
Ms. Taylor’s book was excellently written but I can’t help but feel that it was a poorly developed idea. In the beginning, the two different creatures (angels and “chimaerra”) are really portrayed as biblical angels and demons, and the reader immediately thinks that they are true angels and demons. Even the Fallen angel that is with the graverobber is a fallen angel. If you know your Bible stories, you know that there was a great “fall” in which all angels siding with Satan were cast from heaven. This was the story the book seemed to stick with for a while, but then the story fell away, leaving the reader confused.
I felt that there was far too many confusing and baffling elements within this story. I love reading stories that are difficult to understand, that take some figuring out, but this book was a little riduclous. It was very, very far-fetched, even for Fantasy genre standards. And its use of flashbacks and memories from other lives may have been an interesting addition to some readers but it bored me! I didn’t want to know what had happened to some other girl or some other man centuries earlier! I wanted to know whatwas happening with Akiva and Karou at that moment! Because for all my complaining about inta-love, this romance wasn’t half bad and I did want to know what happened to them! But because the story kept veering off and traveling down rabbit holes (rabbit holes, by the way, that I think should never be explored … never) I had to skim the last half of the book in an attempt to get back to the actual storyline! And when I did get back to the actual storyline, I was very confused. Not because I skimmed the earlier chapters but because it was far-fetched to begin with!
So here is where the spoilers come in.
The reason this story is so perplexing and annoyingly confusing is because of Karou’s identity. It turns out that Karou is really Madrigal, a chimaera whose soul, after Madrigal died, was gleaned and put into a new body, and Karou never knew it! It’s why Akiva and Karou had such a powerful relationship right from the start … because they had loved each other before!
I think that’s what really got me.
I love fantasy books. I love Dystopia books. I am used to things being unrealistic at times! I dont read books for the realism, always. Sometimes (a lot of times) I read to escape reality! Hence the tagline of my blog… So it isn’t that I disliked the book because it was fantasy, I think I disliked it because it was difficult to follow and I was misled bysome of my Goodreads friends, who made it sound like it was a Dysopian novel, set in an apocalyptic society where Karou was a trader of teeth for some nefarious reason. I don’t know how in the world I got that impression! This book is so not apocalyptic and Karou has nothing to do with collecting teeth, other than that she takes them and brings them back to Brimstone, who is the real collector.
I think Laini was trying to allow the reader to think for themselves and not be led around by a nose ring, which I really appreciate, but I don’t think she did a good enough job creating circumstances where the reader had a chance to guess, if that makes any sense whatsoever. I think it was very difficult for Laini to create places where certain areas of the plot could be clearly explained, which is why the reader is confused even until the second half of the book. I love being perplexed and amazed by how complex a plot is, but I really dislike being confused! And sadly, this book make me very, very confused.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone was an interesting read and certainly a new and unique plot but it had some elements I did not like. HOWEVER, Laini, in her brilliant writing, has me ready to read the next book simply because I need closure and I need to know how Karou’s story ends. There are some books that are just so bad that I can’t even think about reading the next one but Daughter of Smoke and Bone has definitely intrigued me. I will read the second book, at least, to learn what happens to Karou and Akiva but I may not continue the series from there! We’ll just have to see.
What’s on your bookshelf?