Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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?
I’m at a lost to describe this book. Is it a fairy tale? A twist to the old Romeo and Juliet story? A tale of war? A tale of prejudice? It’s all of these things and more.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is my first introduction to Laini Taylor’s work. And it’s was quite an introduction. My friend, Anna - who wrote a BEAUTIFUL review of this novel - mentioned Laini to me many times, always singing her praises. I think Anna has great taste in novels, so I was pretty excited to read this book, especially after I read her review.

Karou is an artist whose imagination creates the wonderful hybrid creatures on the pages of her art-book - which is popular among the other art students at her school in Prague. The creatures are so realistic and Karou even has stories about them, telling it all with the wry smile that hides the fact that her imaginative creations and fantastic stories are real.

I was transported. 

Laini’s descriptive writing style printed such an impressive image of Prague in my head that I’m ready to call a travel agent and book my flight. If only Brimstone’s shop could be reached via plane.

I was enthralled. 

Karou, Zuzana, Issa, Twiga, Yasri, Brimstone and the rest, leaped out of the pages. Laini’s characters are so well developed that I can picture them, right now, almost as if they are crowding my room, vying for my attention. The story was constantly moving, shifting, twisting; but never overwhelming or dull. I practically devoured it.

I was mystified. 

One of the best parts of this story was the reveal in the end. In the back of my mind I knew what was happening, I knew where the story was going - because of the clues that were hidden along the way - but it wasn’t until the reveal that everything became clear. I love when authors can achieve that balance, giving just enough for you to think you’ve got it, but leaving just enough out for you to be surprised in the end. This was the case with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It was a perfect blend of romance, adventure, and suspense. I cannot wait to read more from Laini!

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