Saturday, November 12, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

At several points while reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I thought to myself, “I am so grateful that there are people with brains like Laini Taylor. What a gift to have an imagination that can create such amazing characters and worlds.” Make sure you clear some room in your calendar when you pick up this novel, because you won’t be able to do anything until it’s completed.

Karou has always been a little bit odd: as a Prague art student, she draws monsters that she claims are real, she is always off on exotic and secretive errands, and her blue hair seems to grow naturally. Her smirk belies the fact that everything she says is true. She was raised by chimaera, monsters who are in an epic war against seraphim, also known as angels. The closest thing she has to a father is Brimstone, a disgruntled creature who hoards teeth and grants wishes. When Karou comes face to face with the handsome seraph Akiva, their history tells them to fight, but their instincts won’t let them.

While this may sound like a common paranormal romance plot, Taylor elevates these elements with her gorgeous prose. Daughter of Smoke and Bone gave me the impression that Taylor has traveled widely, for her descriptions of Prague, Morocco, and Boise are all accurate and gorgeous. On the other hand, the alternate world Elsewhere is just as beautifully written, so maybe Taylor is just an immensely gifted writer. Scratch that. It is obvious that Taylor is immensely gifted. Each sentence feels like it was polished lovingly before being handed to the reader. When I read lines like, “A trill of laughter, the scent of cinnamon and donkeys, and color, everywhere color”, I am beside Karou in the Marrakesh market. The lush and dark imagery in the novel make for a perfect autumn read.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is told in three parts and it is a testament to Taylor’s skill that while I wanted to find out what would happen next, I was always sad to leave part of the novel behind. While the final section of the book does not match the suspense and mystery of the earlier parts, it does answer many of my questions and sets the reader up for an agonizing wait for a sequel. As I eagerly await news on when it will be published, I will be busy reading everything else that Laini Taylor has ever written.

This novel was given to me for review by Young Adults Books Central. Read this and other reviews at


  1. Knowing what you know about conservative schools, any major reason why I wouldn't be able to put this in my Grade 6-12 library? I've been watching reviews and recommendations from readers that I respect and I'm trying to decide on a paperback or Kindle version.

  2. It's worth picking up on paperback to loan out to older students with open-minded parents.
    The art students take a nude drawing class, so there are a few references to male genitalia (which pretty much crosses it out for our library) and there are some flowery references to sex scenes. Nothing graphic, but it is clear what has happened.
    Not for 6th or 7th graders, but amazing for older readers who love fantasy.

  3. "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" was romantic, magical, and beautifully written. Laini Taylor has crafted a truly remarkable tale that shows how good teen fiction can be. I am a voracious reader of both adult and teen fiction, and this is ABSOLUTELY my favorite book of the past year. I've found myself recommending it to friends, acquaintances, and anyone who thinks "Twilight" is the best paranormal romance. Not to hate on Stephenie Meyer, because I actually loved "The Host," but "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" is on a completely different level. READ THIS BOOK!

  4. I agree with Luxembourg...everyone I've lent this book to has zoomed through it and then pressed me for a sequel.


What say you?