Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little Brown
Published: September 27th, 2011
Genre: YA Fantasy/Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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 otherwordly 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.
When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
Karou is a 17 year old human art student living in Prague, or so she thought. She was raised by four demons who are not at all human – as they are made up of an array of animal and human parts – in a shop that can open it’s doors to almost any city in the world. In these cities she runs “errands” for Brimstone (her, uh, foster father?) who collects teeth and grants wishes. So far, it sounds confusing, but that’s because it is. The interesting thing about Karou is she doesn’t try to live a double life. She fills her sketch book with drawings of her demon family and of the places she goes on her errands. The funny part is, when her bestfriend Zuzana ( or any of their other friends for that matter) ask her where she has been or what the drawings are, she tells them the complete truth. However, because it is completely insane and impossible they laugh it off and become addicted to her drawings and the stories that go along with them. Karou’s life is somewhat normal and consistent, that is, until three winged figures start showing up in the shadows of cities to mark the doorways of Brimstone’s shop. These fiery hand prints keep appearing until eventually they have marked the doorways of every portal and Brimstone’s shop is destroyed forever.
The first little bit of this book was very fast paced and completely mysterious. I had no idea what was going on, how these creatures were real, who they were, why the doorways were being marked, who the doorways were being marked by and how the heck Karou has anything to do with it. But honestly, that was half the fun of reading it. I was so overwhelmed and just wanted to find out what was going on that I could not put this book down. After every chapter it was like, oh, oh, OH, OH MY GOSH. Karou is so mysterious and so relatable. Of course not in the sense that normal people are raised by demons and can use magic to grant their wishes… But because she’s really confused by who she is and where she fits it and she just really wants to find her place in the world. I think every young person feels a little out of place at times and just wants to understand where they belong, and that’s why she is such a great protagonist.
It is also so refreshing to have everything we’ve every known about angels and devils shaken up and tipped on it’s head. Reading about angels as these pure evangelical beings gets a little tiresome after a while… This story is nice because for once it makes you question whether angels really do represent “good”, innocent beings. On the flip side, you really feel for the devils (or the chimaera as the book refers to them) and it makes you understand why Brimstone does what he does, and why it was necessary.
Overall, this book was a really awesome, action packed read and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good fantasy book. I can’t decide if I’m going to pick up the next book, Days of Blood and Starlight, right away or if I will let this one sink it for a little bit longer. Either way, I can’t wait to continue this trilogy and I will definitely do so soon.