“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.”
Daughter of Smoke and Bone has got to be one of the best books I have ever read. Laini Taylor tells the story of forbidden love in the most unique way I have ever experienced. Often in YA, you find the same story line recycled over and over again but with Taylor’s beautiful writing and creativity it is a book that should be read by everyone.
Karou is a seventeen-year-old girl who lives in Prague and studies at an art school alongside dealing with ex-boyfriend issues. This is the most normal part of the book. Not only does her hair grow blue from the roots but she was brought up by half human and animal beings called Chimera. Again, pretty normal when you get into the story. She spends her time in the human world while running errands which consists of collecting teeth for her human-beast family in Elsewhere. Laini Taylor takes you on a magical journey of war, love and self-discovery in the most beautiful and weird world you’ll probably ever read about. If you like reading, I recommend this book to you.
I cannot express how much I enjoyed this book, the poetic writing, the high fantasy, character development, immense world building. Art, this book is like art.
In the beginning, Karou lives with Brimestone and the rest of her Chimaera family and collects teeth for them. She doesn’t know why, only that he needs her to carry out these errands, and loving the wishmonger, she does so. Leaving her normal life, her best friend and her annoying vampire actor boyfriend, she travels through the door to another part of the world and meets contacts who have teeth for her. There are different types of teeth, decaying teeth which are useless and teeth which sound correct and powerful. Brimestone only collects adult teeth, never baby teeth – well, only once.
It’s on her travels to collect teeth from a man haunted by the disgusting Razgut who plaques him as a result of not being specific when making a wish, that she meets Akiva, a seraphim (angle of fire who radiates sparks and heat) who tries to kill her. Until this point, she had never even considered that others could live in Elsewhere.
I loved the scene where she was trying to run away from Akiva and no one was answering the door. It was so dramatic and tense!
So, Akiva and the rest of the bred soldiers have been burning handprints on the Chimera doors which open to up and let them travel from Elsewhere to Earth.
It is here, that Karou realises that everything she wanted to know might not be the answers she was hoping for…
(spoilers a head)
“Once upon a time, a little girl was raised by monsters. But angels burned the doorways to their world, and she was all alone.”
The world building was a lot to take in a first and quite confusing, but once you get so far into the novel everything clicks into place and it all makes sense. Then, consequently, you start believing in it all, being brought up by half beast? Normal. Collecting teeth from dead bodies – animal and human? Why not. Scuppies and all sorts of wishes but no magic? Sure. A war between Chimera and Seraphim which I’m not sure has any point. Plus, it is believed these people were created by the tears of the sun and one of the moons? Completely normal.
Laini Taylor was really good a keeping humour in what could have been a dark read. I especially loved Karou’s human friend who had the best lines such as; “Oh, Hell. Must. Mate. Immediately.” “Hey! My body may be small, but my soul is large. It’s why I wear platforms. So I can reach the top of my soul.” I felt sorry for her because she kept getting abandoned, but it was a change, that the innocent friend didn’t get dragged into an age old war.
At first, I thought Akiva was going to be a villain. Then we found out he’s the love interest and a solider trained to kill people like Brimstone. But, thankfully, he believes the war should be over and the killing should stop. So not the bad guy, just the vulnerable hot love interest that saves the day and has eyes of fire and huge wings. And then you get to the end of the book. He killed them. He killed all the chimera. The burned hand prints on the door didn’t just seal off the portal, but killed them all – which makes sense since Brimestone cast Karou out before the fire – but why kill them all. Akiva was the villain all along, well maybe not villain, just conflicted so much that he killed all of Karou’s family.
The flying scene, I loved that one, both when Karou was flying the second time she met Akiva and when Akiva and the other Seraphim were fighting against them. Karou has tattoos of eyes on her hands and they possess a power to weaken the angles, something she didn’t realise until she felt the impulse to use them. It also means she cannot touch them, because it burns them from the inside. I loved this scene, especially when Karous came out from behind Akiva and was so badass, just like she was in the hunter’s cabin scene – which was also one of my favourites. I want to see more of that side of Karou, and I feel like we will, in book two.
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them. And its snap split the world in two.”
So when Karou and Akiva break the wish bone, the writing was amazing! I loved the short snippets of the effect it was having, leading to the flash backs and probably the best part of the entire book. We’re introduced to Madrigal, who was a stunning Chimera who lived in Elsewhere. She began working for Brimestone and sorting out his teeth. I must admit I didn’t like Brimestone with Karou but I loved him with Madrigal. Madrigal is such a lovey character and I was so sad to see her die, she is such a brave character. Once the flashback is over, Karou discovers that Brimestone used the teeth to resurrect the dead. He makes new Chimera bodies for them and puts their soul in them, that way they don’t actually die. When this happens, their branded by an eye tattoo and come alive and basically just continue with their life as normal, so they never die. Their known as not ‘pure’ if this happens to them. This is when we also find out that the only time Brimestone used baby teeth was to make Karou and raise her as a child. Her name also means hope. She symbolises unity between both species in this book with the hope that war can finally come to an end. When they snapped the wishbone, Karou was still herself but she had the memories of Madrigal. Which is super cool.
My only criticism of this book is my pet hate – insta-love, which happens twice and annoyed me both times.
It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry ‘Monster!’ and looked behind him.”
Ok, so that was my lengthy review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Sorry for rambling on, but it is confusing to explain if you haven’t read it. If you’re looking for something unique to read in terms of fantasy and world building, grab yourself a copy, it’s worth it!
Rating – ★★★★★
Thank you for reading. Let me know your thoughts and feels on this book in the comments below.
“Once upon a time, an angel lay dying in the mist. And a devil knelt over him and smiled.”
Thank you for taking time to read this.
Little Fantasy Land