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Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Count: 418
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Date Published: September 27, 2011
You can find it here: Bookshop.org


Karou is a tattoo’d, sharp tongued, tough-as-nails budding artist with peacock-blue hair, attending a famous school for the arts in Prague. She draws fierce characters that are the stuff of fantasy and nightmares … but are they?

When black handprints are emblazoned on doorways across the world, heralding the return of a winged enemy long thought banished, Karou’s world is turned upside down. Now torn away from the only family she has ever known and thrust into a centuries-old war between angels and demons, Karou must find the answer to the question she has had all her life — who is she? — in order to save those she loves.


Let’s talk expectation: 

This is one of those highly cherished, beloved cornerstones of YA fantasy that I just kept putting off … for whatever reason. Especially considering Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer duology is probably my favourite YA fantasy I have read! So I made it my ultimate reading goal of 2020 to finally read Daughter of Smoke & Bone. I went in, not really knowing anything other that the jacket blurb – and I thought I would be getting a delicious, highly imaginative fantasy … and I did. But I did not expect for this to be, well basically, a 400 page romance novel. I don’t say this as a criticism, necessarily, and can totally understand why this entire book was dedicated to the romance … but it was a bit of a disappointment. BUT, I really feel like this has set up the rest of the serious for a fantasy extravaganza.

So let’s talk fantasy & world building: 

If I was surprised/disappointed by the predominant romance here, the fantasy definitely delivered in the way I expected a creation of Laini’s to do. There are many typical stereotypes present here – like forbidden love, angels & demons, the chosen one – but Laini brings a freshness to them all that you actually forget to realize you’re reading “stereotypes”. Devils aren’t simply male, they aren’t simply evil, angels aren’t necessarily good …she throws stereotype on its head and never falls into a cliche. Especially when I consider this novel is almost 10 years old, Laini was writing YA Fantasy way above its time in my opinion – including an excellently nuanced plot with intelligence and respect for the audience and the characters.

I don’t usually enjoy plots that reveal what-in-the-heck is going on so gradually, but it really works here. Probably because we are learning along with Karou rather than just being kept in the dark by the author, so we got to experience the surprises and twists and emotions along with her. Which of course provided such a strong connection to her character.

So let’s talk characters: 

I want blue hair.

I want more tattoos.

I want to move to Prague and become an artist.

Karou is a fabulous, incredibly well rounded, living contrast of a character. She is a talented artist, that is also a lethally trained ninja warrior. She is a sarcastic, tattoo-covered prickly devil but she is also lonely, kind, and fiercely loyal.

I loved her.

I loved her friend, Zuzana. I loved Brimstone and all of Karou’s chimera family. These characters were dynamic, quirky … did I say loveable?

While I enjoyed Akiva, and especially enjoyed that we gain many chapters from his perspective, it is Karou who stole my heart and I can’t wait to read more of her history and story.

Overall Take:

A wonderfully imaginative fantasy world that I just want to dive into and stay, with characters that are fantastically drawn. While it is romance heavy, it is a nice romance and super important to the overall plot, setting up the rest of the series well. I may have been expecting a different novel but I wasn’t disappointed here either – Laini Taylor is a heck of a writer and while I still prefer the Strange duology more, I am excited to see where this series goes … hopefully with a bit more to it than the romance. I’m not worried.

TBR Rating: High, especially fans of Laini Taylor

For Fans Of:

City of BonesCity of Bones

Written by Cassandra Clare

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books

You can find it here: Bookshop.org




Grim LoveliesGrim Lovelies

Written by Megan Shepherd

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Full review HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org



The Cruel PrinceThe Cruel Prince

Written by Holly Black

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

You can find it here: Bookshop.org




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