Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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:

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 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.

Other reviews:
Fantasy Cafe
Book Harbinger
Janicu’s Book Blog
Good Books and Good Wine
Ficsation
The Girl Who Read and Other Stories

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34 thoughts on “Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

  1. I’m thrilled you loved this so much. It deserves all the praise it gets and I definitely see it becoming a hit. I’m amazed already at how many of my Goodreads friends gave it 5 stars.

    Nice review. It is going to be a long wait for the sequel.

    • I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I started hearing good things from you guys. It really does deserve all the hype that it’s been getting. This is the kind of book that should become popular instead of all the other YA paranormal novels that are getting so much attention right now.

      I really can’t wait to read the sequel. LOL she isn’t even done writing it. Although I do appreciate that this one didn’t have cliffhanger ending.

  2. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the review linkage. Happy that you ended up liking it. Looks like I’m one who didn’t quite love it as much as my “usually my opinion aligns with these people” group, although I did like it a lot.

    Something about how Karou wanted love as much as she did, made me feel like she was so young. Loving the IDEA of love. I wasn’t sure if she fell in love that I could as a reader trust that she’d really fallen in love because she idealized it. But on the other hand, second part (you know what I mean). Also I could see this being a good basis for character and relationship growth in later books. I’m kind of waiting to see how the story arc is going to be.

    • Happy to link! I know you didn’t have the same reaction to this one and I actually understand why you felt that way. I kept thinking that there was more to the story because of all the mystery surrounding Karou’s background so I just enjoyed the prose and kept going. I get what you mean by Karou loving the idea of love. I think that was mostly tied to her “missingness”? And everything came together for me in the last few chapters.

      Hey, you have a point there. Maybe Laini Taylor has something bigger in mind and this book serves as just the introduction or background for the whole story arc. I’m really looking forward to the sequel, I have no idea where the story will go next.

  3. Great review, Chachic, I’m so glad you loved this one too. I thought it was something special, like nearly everything I’ve read by Laini Taylor. I don’t normally like the paranormal sort of books, either, but the writing, plot, world, and characters were so wonderful in this one! Especially the writing – no one writes quite like Laini Taylor!

    Janicu – I do understand what you mean since I was a little worried when the romance first started, too. It seemed very rushed to me at first. Then I read that second part, and I ended up loving what she did with it.

    • I have to agree with you, Kristen, there really is no one else who writes like Laini Taylor does! I’m glad I’m not the only one who isn’t a fan of paranormal YA. I usually stay away from those books but I knew this one would be different based on my reading experience with Lips Touch. I’m really excited to see how different her writing is in the Dreamdark books because those are more epic fantasy than urban fantasy, right? Hope I can grab copies of the two books soon!

      Like I said in my reply to Janice, I guessed that there was something more to the romance and it wasn’t quite as simple as it looked at the start so I just waited for it to develop.

      • The Dreamdark books are more epic fantasy than urban. They’re hard to describe since they’re not really what you’d think of as epic fantasy, either, though. They don’t have human characters; the focus is on these little fierce fairies who hunt demons.

        I’m looking forward to seeing what you think of them!

      • That’s what I like about Laini Taylor’s books. I think this one is urban fantasy but I’m not even sure of that because the whole book has a fairy tale feel to it, similar to most of the epic fantasy novels that I enjoy reading. Maybe that’s another reason why I liked it so much.

  4. If I can give this more than 5 stars on Goodreads, I would. πŸ˜€

    (Please link to my review na rin. I’ll send all the stuff to Hachette in the hopes that they can convince local stores to carry it! πŸ™‚ )

    • Link added! I was planning to link to your post but hesitated because of spoilers but then you included spoiler tags so it’s all good. πŸ˜›

      Meann, thank you for reaching out to Hachette Philippines. I never would have gotten the ARC if you didn’t contact them for the ReaderCon. πŸ˜€

      • I would have, except I was down with a splitting migraine for the weekend. 😦 Well, I’m writing this weekend, that’s for sure.

        I have a feeling I’ll love Laini Taylor’s work. Since I remember browsing Lips Touch Three Times in Powerbooks several times and being intrigues by the artwork (you know me naman, very visual person haha).

      • Aww, hope you start feeling better soon! Take something for your headache. I hate headaches and I used to be a non-headache-y person but I started getting them this year. Keep meaning to have my eyes checked but they say they can only do it in the mornings and I should have 8 hours of sleep. LOL wonder when that will happen.

        I read the first two short stories of Lips Touch in Powerbooks! After that, I knew I wanted to get my own copy. Thought of waiting for the paperback but the cover design for the hardcover is prettier. You know her husband did the illustrations for the book.

    • Yay, you posted a review as well! I’ll add it to my roundup. I’m really glad you enjoyed reading it. LOL we can talk about the spoilery bits on Facebook if you want.

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