Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Released: September 29th 2011
My Rating: 5 stars out of 5
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Featuring necklaces made of wishes; an underground shop dealing in teeth; magical tattoos; a wishbone on a cord, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is a thrilling story about Karou and her secret life as an apprentice to a wishmonger. Karou manages to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she is a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to an inhuman creature who deals in wishes and is the closest thing she has to family. Her life is surrounded by mysteries she is desperate to unveil.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone can be described in one word: amazing. All the hype surrounding it is well deserved because this book blew me away. Laini Taylor has created a world of magic and wonder, and I was so absorbed in it I almost felt as if I had fallen through the pages. Right from the beginning, I was captivated by the story, and I was turning one page after another, desperate to find out what was going on. I loved how the story was written – it was like the book was separated into different parts, but instead of having “Part One” and “Part Two”, we had little pages that began with “Once upon a time...” that told of something that happened in the past. The first page in fact begins with, “Once upon a time, an angel and a demon fell in love... It did not end well” and this basically sums up the whole story perfectly. Daughter of Smoke of Bone really is a breathtaking, original take on angels and demons, and I loved every second of it.
Karou, I liked immediately. From her blue hair to her ninety-something sketchbooks, she was an all-round great character. One of my favourite parts of the book was this little scene near the beginning, where Karou got revenge on her cheating ex-boyfriend by publicly embarrassing him, which I found absolutely hilarious. I really liked how Karou’s art played an important role in the story – her drawings and sketchbooks were a part of her, and it was through them that she expressed herself. I also liked how Karou was the type of person that just got on with her life – she had no idea who she was and had no memory of being a young child, but she lived her life as fully as she could. Even after her messy break-up and even when forced on horrible errands by her inhuman employer (and adoptive father) Brimstone, she tried her to make the best of it all. It was clear she was very attached to Brimstone and the other members of her adoptive family (like Issa, who I loved). Sometimes, however, she was overcome by this feeling of loneliness that was always within her, and I really felt for her, because it must have been so hard to not even know who her parents were, or where she came from. Brimstone knew the answers to the questions she so desperately wanted to ask, but he would never tell her anything, and that definitely made me curious from early on – just what exactly was he hiding?
Akiva was probably my second favourite character, after Karou. He was so complex, and I really didn’t know what to make of him to begin with. From our first meeting with Akiva, it was clear that he had suffered a great tragedy in his life, and I loved how bits and pieces of his past were revealed slowly throughout the story. He was cold and heartless at the start, and tried to stamp out all emotion from his body. His first encounter with Karou was not what you may imagine – though both were drawn to each other, they fought as if they were enemies, and it wasn’t until later that any sort of relationship started to develop (and when it did...wow). Akiva was on a mission, and Karou was in his way – until, of course, their fates became intertwined, and everything changed. From then on, Akiva started to open up, little by little, and I was so curious to find out more about him, as was Karou. This other side of him that was being unveiled showed a much more caring, much more visionary person, and I wondered what exactly had happened all those years ago that broke him so completely.
The beautiful writing was one of the best parts of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It really captured the emotion of the characters – the longing, the heartbreak, the happiness, the loneliness – everything. And what was really great was how we got to see snippets from other points of view in the chapters – we mainly saw Karou’s perspective, but at times we got to see things through Akiva’s eyes, and I loved finding our more about him in this way. I also liked how cleverly everything was linked together, and the way the mystery of Karou’s past unravelled was fantastic – I never saw it coming! If I could describe this story in one word, it would be compelling – I could not put the book down.
Towards the end of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I was feeling uneasy and I just knew things were not going to be fine and dandy. And I was right – the ending, that heart-breaking, gut-wrenching ending. My words can’t do it justice. I’m still agonising over it now, thinking to myself “Why? Why?” But the worst thing is the wait until the sequel – how am I supposed to wait that long to find out what happens next?
Overall, Daughter of Smoke and Bone (and I’m only just now realising how incredibly clever the title is) is a book that everyone needs to read. Pre-order it, borrow it, beg for it, whatever. Just read this book.