18/07/2014

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone {Laini Taylor}


★★★★★
Written by Laini Taylor
Amazon | Book Depository 

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched by winged strangers who have crept in through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of teeth has grown dangerously low. And in the tangled streets of Prague, a young artist is about to be caught up in this brutal, otherworldly war. Karou fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she disappears for days on mysterious errands and she speaks many languages – not all of them human. Who is she? That is a question that haunts her, and one she is about to find the answer to. When a winged stranger spots her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, unveiled secrets, and a star-crossed bond whose roots drink deep of a violent past.
 
I feel a bit like my granddad saying this, but this book was splendid. It's one of the most remarkable and uniquely peculiar books I've ever read; a plot littered with the fantastic and the surreptitious. It reverses age-old notions we have of impious devils and celestial angels, weaving a new myth entirely that draws from religion and yet never depends on it.

Karou is a human in a family of monsters, living two lives which she struggles to balance: in one she is an art student studying in Prague, and in the other she collects teeth for a devil. Her family of monstrous creatures is all she's ever known and her loyalty to them sucks her into a centuries-old war, with two races set on eradicating each other.

Karou is the heroine I feel like I've been waiting forever for. She's undoubtedly intelligent, witty, and manages to be both gracious and ferocious when the time calls for either. It's impossible not to become enamoured with Karou and captivated by not only her astonishing story, but with the girl herself. A heroine who shoulders being the central character of a series with ease.

Laini Taylor's writing is incredibly vivid, her prose fluid in a way that I rarely read any more. If her plot wasn't complexly beautiful enough, the way Taylor executes it is something to marvel at, and I found myself savouring each word.

The setting is also a refreshing change from the humdrum land of America, where 90% of stories seem to be based. Prague is a city rich with beauty, intrigue and culture, which makes it the perfect backdrop for this tale of fantasy, pietism and legend. 

I fell in love with Taylor's imagination in this book. Though the mystery of Karou's past was pretty obvious and I found the successive flashback chapters near the end a little dull, I loved gaining all that insight. This is a beautiful first taste of a series I know will continue to surprise me with its rich prose and deeply magical roots.

"Humanity, that quality of benevolence that humans have, without irony, named after themselves."

 

Allie has planned out a trio of marvellous desserts for Valentine's weekend. She'll be baking up a storm for love day! And that's not just a metaphor, because when she bakes, the kitchen ends up looking like it's been hit by a hurricane. But hey, the sugar makes the clean-up all worth while.
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36 comments:

  1. Yes yes yes! This is one of those books that I'm ALWAYS pushing on other people so I'm so glad to see that it worked so well for you too, Allie! :D Get on to Days soon - that one's even better!

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    1. I just finished Days! I felt like it took me a lifetime (was only a few days though :P). It was so LONG but, more importantly, SO AWESOME. Can't wait to read Dreams!

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  2. Yessssss. I read this one a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn't believe what I was missing! I was amazed at the way Laini built the world. Everything was magical and fantastic. Amazing review. :)

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    1. Same here – I've only just started reading this series and I can't believe I didn't start earlier. What were we thinking?!

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  3. I still need to read these!! I'm happy to see you loved this one though, because it makes me even more determined to finally grab a copy!!

    -lauren

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    1. Ohhh, Lauren, get on it! They're so well-written. A new favourite series of mine, for sure!

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  4. Oh 5 stars! I've been thinking about checking out this book forever, but I feel like I missed the time for it, though, I guess the whole series is out now, so maybe now is a good time to start it. haha. So glad too hear you loved it! (I like the word splendid ;) )Thanks for the review!

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    1. Yep – it gained the elusive 5! It's definitely a good time to start (that's what I did!). Be warned though, you'll get totally addicted and it'll take over your life LOL

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  5. Oh yay! I am so glad you liked this one. I found it in the bargain section of a bookstore, and bought it (and fine, the next one too!) but I have been so hesitant for some reason. But between the culture, great writing, and the strong heroine, I think you've convinced me that I need to read it soon!

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    1. Don't be hesitant, silly! It's amazing :D

      Laini's prose is seriously just stunning; the detail in which she describes things and the way she phrases it *sighs* it's wonderful!

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  6. I neeed to read this. I NEED TO I JUST NEED TO. It's one of those ones everyone raves about, but this is like the first actual blog-review I've read on it. ;) I keep telling myself not to add to my tbr, but I'm soo tempted to reserve this at the library. Any book that's set somewhere different is an insta-win for me, and she has a family of monsters? She collects teeth?! (Oaky, let me shudder at that one.)

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    1. CAIT, YOU SERIOUSLY DO. Like, right now. *Points* Go! It's so good there are no words (or, I guess there are. You know, since I put them in a review :P)

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  7. This book is SO good. I was surprised with the amount of flashbacks and everything at the end of the book but the way it is written is completely amazing. Glad you finally checked it out Allie!

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    1. It is!!!! Yeah, the flashbacks were kind of lame. I enjoyed them (Akiva!) to a degree, but I think because there were SO many in just dragged on.

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  8. Aaaah, I love this book so much and the entire trilogy by Laini Taylor. Her prose is just amazing and Karou and Akiva just makes my heart melt. I can't wait for you to read the rest and I hope you'll like them as well. Lovely review, Allie! :)

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    1. I haven't read Dreams yet! Is it awesome? I bet it's awesome :D

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  9. Okay...here's the thing Allie. I've read nothing but glowing reviews for this, yet whenever I go and pick it up from the library, I don't read it because I get intimidated for some odd reason. Your review has definitely made me want to force myself to give it a try though! I love the sound of the beautiful writing and the characters, and how Taylor's imagination really shines. It's not often where authors can successfully incorporate flashbacks and manage to still make the story work, so that's definitely a testament to the quality of the book that this is. Thanks for sharing Allie, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

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    1. Hmmmm, I see what you mean about being intimidated. Especially since it is quite a long book. Don't be scared though, Zoe. I'll protect you from the billions of words! :D

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  10. This book SOUNDS splendid. Goodreads TO READ list it is. And that cover? Swoon.

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    1. I know, right? I think a lot of people have the weird masquerade cover, so I'm feeling lucky with my creepy handprint one

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  11. I'm really late to the party. I think I'm the only one who hasn't even read this series yet! Everyone's raving about it, and god knows how many times it's been in the list of FAVORITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME. I love that her writing is vivid, and colorful, and lyrical to the point that it feels like an art. The other time I've seen something like that was in Helene Wecker's THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI (have you read it yet?). FINE. NEXT WEEK I SHALL BINGE-READ.

    Faye at The Social Potato

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    1. I'm pretty late myself, dear! Only just finished the second book the other day (it was awesome!).

      I haven't read The Golem and the Jinni! Never even heard of it o.O I'm going to go GR stalk it :D

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  12. WELCOME. To the AMAZINGNESS that is Daughter of Smoke and Bone!!! I read this 2 years ago and I still can't stop smiling everytime I meet a person who love it just as much :)) Keep reading, things only get darker and better!!

    Alicia @ Summer Next Top Story

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    1. Ahhhhh, it's so awesome Alicia! I seriously don't know why it's taken me so long to read it. I ALWAYS do this – come to a series late and then think, 'what the hell have I been doing, not reading this before?'

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  13. This book is really high up on my wishlist! But I do want it in the pretty hardback edition. :)
    Oh, and I just want to say that I absolutely love the lay-out of your blog! It looks really cute and it's just perfect. :)

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    1. Is that the masquerade one? I have to say, I'm not a fan of that cover. I like the eeriness of this one better and think it fits the story more. Still, I like all the blue on the other cover!

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  14. WOOT, so glad you loved this one!! I thought it was splendid as well and really liked Karou. She's really one of a kind, isn't she? ;) But what I prefered was the world building for sure. Lovely review, Allie! (Though I think you liked it better since I gave it 4 stars in fact. xd)

    Lola @ Hit or Miss Books

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    1. The world building was phenomenal wasn't it? Especially in book 2! I was floored by the detail

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  15. I actually started reading this one a few years ago but didn't even make it to page 100 because i DNFed it. I just couldn't get into it and I remember the characters names were too weird and they kept throwing me off. BUT you said this book was splendid. And that's a pretty high praise so now i'm like "well if Allie said it's splendid it must be damn splendid"

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    1. LILY, THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. Honestly, give it another go and you will adore it. I pinky promise. And if not, well then we ca longer be friends (hehe).

      Also: go watch the new season of Teen Wolf already!

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  16. I have heard great things, and so glad to hear you enjoyed, the vivid writing sounds like it makes the book

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    1. It's a fantastic series that I can't believe I didn't try sooner!

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  17. I hope this doesn't turn into one of those hyped books that disappoints, I really don't think it will. I am beyond excited to read this series, have heard nothing but amazing things. I have the first two and will probably pick up the 3rd before I even start, I think this is a series I am going to want to binge read.

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    1. Ohh no, don't say that lol! It isn't, I promise :D it's a brilliantly well-written fantasy that's exactly what you need to pull you out of a slump!

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  18. This is so bad but I actually didn't like this book that much. >< I really do want to continue with the series though. The love the third book is getting is making me excited! I'm so glad you loved this one Allie!

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  19. I came to this series a bit late, too (i.e., after every other book blogger had already read the first book and raved about it). I really enjoyed Daughter of Smoke & Bone... so I'm not sure why it took me so long to pick up the second and third books; I finally did this past summer. The whole series is awesome. Those flashback chapters that you thought were a bit slow? They're hugely important to the rest of the series. Laini Taylor did a really good job of tying all her convoluted plot lines together. This ended up being one of my favourite YA trilogies of all time!

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