Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

12406320Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor  

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Publishing Info: Kindle edition September 2011 by Hodder (first published 2011)

Pages: 448

Star Rating: 5/5

Back Cover Summary:

Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things. When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

The first in a trilogy, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a phenomenal book. The world is so imaginative and captivating, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with it. I very rarely give 5 star ratings, because I usually have something to criticise, even something small, or it just doesn’t blow me away enough to warrant 5 stars. I had no hesitation giving that accolade to Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

I didn’t know what to expect from this book from the rather mysterious summary. It certainly piqued my curiosity. I don’t want to say too much about the plot, because it’s not knowing what’s really going on that kept me hooked, so I don’t want to spoil that for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. Karou lives in the human world, but the only family she has known seem to occupy an ‘Elsewhere’ place that they won’t explain to her, leaving her in the dark as to why Brimstone, her guardian, sends her on missions to buy teeth. Karou is so curious about what he uses these teeth for, and I was compelled to keep reading to find out why too. What’s great is that it wasn’t predictable.

Without giving anything away, all I can say is that Laini Taylor managed to use some elements that I would usually consider bad craftsmanship on the part of a writer, and actually made them work. The romance didn’t feel forced, even though it was quite quick. It felt natural and the author wrote it so well that I was totally into the romance aspect of this book. A large section towards the end is completely flashback, which is generally frowned upon, but Taylor did it so well. The flashback was necessary. It wasn’t thrown in for the hell of it. It formed part of the plot and was necessary for the reader’s understanding and empathy for the characters. Taylor turned a story element that is so often done badly, and showed how you can make flashbacks work in the right scenarios.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is unique, and that’s part of what makes it so good. Laini Taylor takes some elements we’re familiar with – magic, a human world unaware of some kind of other fantastical one, a forbidden romance, and so on – and makes it her own. This isn’t a cardboard cut-out YA paranormal fantasy.

I went through so many different emotions while reading this book. The characters are so easy to connect to, they’re written so well. They were at risk of falling into clichés but they didn’t. My heart broke more than once.

I fell completely in love with this book. The imagination, the creativity, the characters, it all just comes together so well. This is without a doubt one of the best YA books I’ve ever read. I don’t know what else to say about it without descending into rambling gushing about how amazing it is, so I will conclude. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series and hope it lives up to the very high standards set by Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

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