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Daughter of Smoke and Bone Cover Picture

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Laini Taylor

Published 2011         418 pages

Summary (from the publisher)

Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

The Review

“Once upon a time, an angel and devil fell in love. It did not end well.”

Memorable, succinct and hinting of tragedies to come, this has got to be one of my favourite opening lines for a story. It ranks up there with “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” – Rebecca, and “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Pride and Prejudice. Beyond the first line the rest of the story is pretty damn good too.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first book in a new fantasy series by Laini Taylor. The story’s 17 year-old protagonist and content (star-crossed lovers and tragic love affair gone wrong) mark it out as a book aimed at the Young Adult market yet there is a lot more to this story than your typical teenager/romance angst. Forget the usual formula of ancient bad-boy paranormal meets human school girl who happens to me his soul mate (am I the only person who finds the thought of ancient men dating young school girls a bit, well… icky?) and prepare yourself for something a lot more original.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone uses a wonderful reimagining of the mythology of angels and demons. Forget about God, they have nothing to do with him – these angels are winged human creatures from another realm. The devils are chimera, creatures with odd beast–like aspects. The angles and devils are at war and have been for hundreds of years but it’s not a battle of good versus evil, its a long-running war where the motivations are far more complex and both sides think that they are fighting for the greater good.

The angels and demon access our world through the use of portals and although this story is technically a part of the urban fantasy genre, it feels more like classic fantasy because most of the action takes place in the other realm. There are no vampires in this story (I didn’t think Karou’s actor boyfriend dressing up as one in order to scare tourists on the streets of Prague really counted) and I doubt there is any space for vampires in this mythology but Daughter of Smoke and Bone hardly suffers without them. The seraphs and chimera are more than fascinating enough to appeal to any hard-core fantasy fan.

More than anything it is the quality of writing that sets Daughter of Smoke and Bone apart from other YA offerings. It has some beautiful storytelling that carries the story’s appeal far beyond just a teenaged audience. Mature fantasy romance fans should find this tale of tragic love affairs gone wrong to be a rewarding read too and the story never “dumbs down” for its teenaged audience. Unusual, imaginative, heart-wrenching and exceedingly well-written Daughter of Smoke and Bone is highly recommended. This series and its author, Laini Taylor, are going to be ones to watch.

This book was rated down half a point for its general lack of vampires (sorry, it’s a site rule!)

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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