I already pre-ordered Daughter of Smoke and Bone but jumped at the chance to read the ARC when Hachette Philippines gave us copies for the Filipino ReaderCon. I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I fell in love with Laini Taylor’s writing in Lips Touch. I finished this book last week and I’ve been wanting to write a review ever since, to convince the rest of you to pick this up.
Here’s the summary from Laini Taylor’s website:
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.
Believe me when I tell you that I was really excited to read this book. It’s one of my most anticipated releases this year. I had high expectations because I wanted more of the author’s lyrical way with words and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m not sure under what genre or category Daughter of Smoke and Bone will fall under but I’m guessing it’s either YA urban fantasy or YA paranormal romance and while I usually shy away from those kinds of books, I didn’t have to worry about not liking this one. I was torn between wanting to read the book slowly so I can savor the words and devouring the whole thing in one big gulp.
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding Karou, her upbringing and the chimaera who brought her up. Chimaera are creatures from another world, with various animal and human features mixed together. Others may call them monsters or demons but they’re more whimsical than scary. The novel is partially set in this world, in Prague, where Karou is based, as well as all the other places that she goes to for her errands. The other setting is in a world different from our own, where chimaera have been fighting a war against another kind of supernatural being for as long as anyone can remember. Look at me being vague to avoid spoilers. The worldbuilding in this book is something that I fell in love with – from the everyday descriptions of Karou’s life in Prague to the back story of the chimaera and their world. The atmospheric setting made me eager to go to Prague and see for myself if it’s really as lovely as the book described. It’s the kind of worldbuilding (and prose) that will suck you in and won’t let go until you reach the very end. And when you get to that part? It will leave you wanting more.
The romance was totally swoon-worthy. For me, what made the love story work were all the details and intricacies involved. There’s a lot of history tied up with the romance and there were valid reasons that made it as complicated as it was. I ate up the last few chapters of this book like they were pieces of chocolate, they were that scrumptious. I kept adding favorite quotes from the book on Goodreads and since I love Laini Taylor’s beautiful prose so much, I thought it would be a good idea to give a sample:
“Karou wished she could be the kind of girl who was complete unto herself, comfortable in solitude, serene. But she wasn’t. She was lonely, and she feared the missingness within her as if it might expand and… cancel her. She craved a presence beside her, solid. Fingertips light at the nape of her neck and a voice meeting hers in the dark. Someone who would wait with an umbrella to walk her home in the rain, and smile like sunshine when he saw her coming. Who would dance with her on her balcony, keep his promises and know her secrets, and make a tiny world wherever he was, with just her and his arms and his whisper and her trust.”
Even before I got my grubby little hands on a copy, I predicted that Daughter of Smoke and Bone will make it to my best of 2011 list and I was right. I truly cannot wait for the sequel to be finished. I have to wait a whole year before it will be released! I need to get my hands on those Faeries of Dreamdark books to tide me over while waiting. If I haven’t managed to convince you to read this book by now, I don’t know what else I could say. Enthusiastically recommended for fantasy fans, especially those who like the YA variety. I’m predicting that this one will become a hit.