I’m still tweaking my way of reviewing books, so do bear with me as I try out different formats. I’ve just finished reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor…it took me awhile but it wasn’t due to lack of interest, it was more I couldn’t find the time. Finally, last night I pushed myself past my bedtime and kept reading till 3am, and was completely blown away despite the cliffhanger ending!
Summary from Goodread
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?
I used to be incredibly fascinated by angels and demons, and other supernatural creatures. Therefore that was the first thing that attracted me to the book – the whole idea of chimaera’s and this whole other magical world of other beings. Such topics require quite a bit of worldbuilding and thankfully that is what this book delivers!
I was absolutely amazed by the vivid setting of the world which the book was set in, which was partially of this world and partially of another. Laini’s description of Prague and Morocco were so vividly detailed, you could almost see yourself standing there, as well as her teeth retrieving jobs in various locations. Even as we get further into the book and we leave the world we know for the world of Chimaeras, it was all still beautifully constructed. The worldbuilding is really what sucks the readers in and leave us wanting more.
“The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century – or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins and the cobbled lanes like meandered like creeks.”
Tell me…can you honestly tell me that this snippet didn’t make you fall in love with Prague! It is all just so beautiful and yet so whimsical!
Moving on the characters.While I liked the main heroine, Karou, enough, I was more into the voices of Zuzana and Akiva; and later in the story Madrigal. Despite the fact Madrigal is thrown into the mix quite late in the story, and her story is quite scattered and was more “tell” rather than show…and it might have felt a little rushed to close the first part of the trilogy, I was still quite drawn to her. Karou just left me wishing there was more…as Chachic once mentioned to me in a conversation we had, where we agreed where Karou was all about being empty and finding herself, Madrigal had more depth due to her history and background. I get a little lost with Karou, as I guess the reader is supposed to, sometimes I just forget she’s only 17 and that this is a YA book. As for Zuzana, she is quite the little dynamite and I love her character! She keeps it real…although a little comical, she is the friend you need in the story; a bundle of joy to have around, always ready to speak her mind but was also equally accepting and just all round wonderful. I originally didn’t take to Akiva…we just didn’t click when we first met, it took me awhile to warm to him, it wasn’t till later in the book did I truly appreciate his character and his sense of awkward humor. I’m really trying not to spoil anything, but you will understand it when you do read the book.
Of course a special mention for a character I absolutely love, which is Brimstone! He really doesn’t say much, and his story isn’t really told till close to the end of the first book, but his character is so shrouded in mystery it was delicious trying to find out more! He is definitely one of my favorite characters, so fiercely protective, stiffly and a real grouch, yet affectionate in his own grouchy way, with just a hint of humor and wit to him.
“I don’t know many rules to live by […] But here’s one. It’s simple. Don’t put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles – drugs or tattoo – and…no inessential penises, either.”
HA! Oh Brimstone! I’m tempted to add another Brimstone quote…actually I will!
“…I have a string of moray eel teeth I never thought I would be tempted to use.”
This line of his made me laugh out loud despite the situation they were in! Look out for it 😉 I actually love Karou’s chimaera family in Brimstone’s shop…they were so loving and warm to this little girl who grew up with them, it was quite moving to read.
The romance in this book didn’t really catch me, it was too “instalove“…it was just too shallow…they just automatically feel this PULL, there wasn’t a real build in their relationship everything moved really fast. I just couldn’t really get into it. It left me wishing there was MORE to it than just physical attraction with a heaping serving of “the universe tells me we should be together” kinda thing. I wanted their relationship to build, to the point where the climax of their love story would just make more of an impact to me. I just found myself more into Madrigal’s story, despite her little “instalove” situation as well, but at least despite the SHORT time she had sometime to build a more solid foundation…although still not solid enough for the type of relationship the romance was hinged upon. With a lack of a better way of explaining this, it really just left me wishing there was more to it.
All in all, I like this book very much! Despite the romance issue, the book still sat well with me; to the point I recommended it to anyone I could think of who would enjoy reading this genre. I enjoyed it so much, it took me awhile in designing the graphic for this post, I really wanted it to be perfect, and went through quite a few designs, as well as finding the right photo base. I finally found a beautiful photograph of the Charles Bridge taken by photographer Ryan Lum, and it was PERFECT; especially because of the meaning of this bridge in the book. I’m actually quite eager to start book 2 – Days of Blood & Starlight, I really just need to find the time to sit and start it 😀
If you’ve not read the book do give it a try!!! If you’ve read it do tell me what you thought of it! Did you like it? Of if you didn’t, why not? Who were your favorite characters? 🙂