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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I know, I know, you're thinking the world has ended because how can it be that I've finally updated this blog? Not with an apology that would take a few seconds to write (though I owe you guys one of those as well) but an actual review! You've heard it all before, but I've been ridiculously on-another-level busy over the past many months. And it hasn't stopped! In less than month I'll be applying to university to do medicine, probably the biggest hurdle of my life so far. I've really really wanted to update this blog but school has worn me out so much that I never have any energy to even read these days - and when I do it's for my English Lit A-Level.

Anyway, I'll stop with the excuses now and let you know my opinion of 'Daughter of Smoke and Bone.'


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 otherworldly 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.


‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ will leave you spellbound. Perhaps that a bit of an overambitious statement to make but I assure you, I’m not over-exaggerating how fantastic a novel it is. The story of Karou and Akiva, the world-building, luscious descriptions of Prague, the romance, the fantasy, the magic and the mystery make this a novel worth reading. And loving.

I was slightly dubious when I first saw its size but on starting it, I raced through it. I was left spellbound by the beauty of Taylor’s prose. Her painstaking descriptions of everything are beautiful – and I mean everything – from the geography of Elsewhere, to appearances of the more unusual-looking characters (i.e. chimaera) to Karou and Akiva’s overwhelming emotions. It felt like watching a film, I could clearly visualise everything, even the imaginary world of Elsewhere.

The writing is not the only strong point. The characterisation, too, is excellent – Karou’s feelings of longing and loss come through so clearly. This is a character you will vouch for through to the end. Akiva, initially too dull and hardened for me to like him, especially as a love interest for Karou, slowly grew on me as his past was revealed to us and his mistakes forgiven.

Taylor has a ridiculous imagination. To be able to come up with an entire world, two original species, a totally new way of representing magic, is no mean feat. Coming up with sub-species as well within Chimaera – human aspect and animal aspect – was fascinating to read about. Having seen what Taylor is capable of, I would very much like to read her debut effort which Goodreads assures me is no less brilliant than ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone.’ And, surprise surprise, I’m impatient to get my hands on the next book in the trilogy!

I think everyone should give ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ a chance, even those of you that aren’t fond of fantasy, because it is one of those perfect unputdownable YA novels, an instant classic one might say, that renews your faith in the genre (suffice to say it renewed mine). I will not hesitate to reread it in the future, maybe to admire Taylor’s prose or to immerse myself in Prague and Elsewhere once more. Read it. You won’t regret it at all.

Rating: 5/5

Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for sending the book for review!