Daughter of Smoke and Bone

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 grown 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 one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored 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?

It’s hard to begin the review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Liani Taylor really managed to write a captivating story. She uses proven concepts like angels and demons but rewrites and twists them in such a way as to provide a rich, magical, mysterious and alluring story. Really captivating at time.

A big plus for me was the storyline, its construction plotted with care. The beginning was pretty simplistic, with the introduction of the main protagonist Karou and her friend Zuzanna it reflected pretty well here one half of her life living in Prague, being a student and a girl. Not long thereafter you’re introduced to the other side of Karou’s life, featuring Brimstone’s shop, a more darker side, however I have not made up my mind which party is the better (seraphims or the chimaeras). I found that the story where the chimaeras in Brimstone shop and he himself made an appearance spoke more to my imagination, being located in Elsewhere which is only accessible through specific portals, the usage of the doors although maybe not that original was used in good way that in some scenes provide a laugh here and there. The whole setting of his shop together with the descriptions of Brimstone among others and yes, as the name implies the chimaeras are made up of different animals like in mythology, but what made it better was the WAY the chimaeras are made, just brilliant. The resonance throughout the book followed nicely by Taylor using specific terms and phrases or past occurrences but then she does follow through on the things she introduced and not just in a paragraph but sometimes dedicating whole chapters to it. This world building as you may call, for both the present day Prague, Elsewhere and the history of Karou and Avika, it was so rich it really made the story come to its full potential, so lively it produced a well polished book.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone features several more characters but next to Karou, a seraphim Avika also plays a big part from the beginning. I found that his character could have given more depth compared to Karou herself. Although he is not the main protagonist, his actions and choices were, for me, a bit to abrupt and all of a sudden given the background. His history in the end was unexpected and fitted well and I can find myself in his actions. However a bit more reasoning behind his actions especially why he all of a sudden “betrayed” his brother and sister for another cause could have been given more depth. Similarly for his whole character, his personality was sometimes a bit weak. I would have enjoyed him more if Avika was given a stronger voice instead of being more or less a push-over. On one hand his actions portray him as a warrior but on the other hand picture him in a playground and his balloon got stolen by a bully he would just stand there and cry. All in all he is not a bad character per se but more voice could bring Avika more to the front.

One thing that intrigued me the most were the teeth and and I caught myself at 4AM in the morning still reading to find out what the significance was for the teeth. And when it was finally revealed, wow, it was not something that I would have thought. It was a really nice and original use of teeth. Another part that was pretty interesting was that earlier on one of the chimaera of Brimstone’s shop I think it was Issa mentioned something about bat-wings and antlers in reference to Karou and later on when the story nears the end and the history of Karou is being revealed there was a scene which featured the bat-wing and antlers. And then the question really started to rise in my head with what if and how. But I was wrong… however what Taylor had in mind was even better than what I had pictured it to be. I was not disappointed but even more under the impression of what a great story-teller Taylor is. Just magical!

The combination in Daughter of Smoke and Bone of the seraphims, chimaeras and Karou herself, gives an vividly colourful story that features at the same time a tinge of darkness that really makes the story come to its full right. There is just one thing that I do hope to see again in the coming books and that is a revisit to Brimstone and Elsewhere, I found that the chimaeras are just so great to picture in your head if gives an eerie feeling but magical at the same time.

I’d like to thank Hodder for providing the review copy.

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