Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Normally, I’m the type of person who can leap from book to book without barely a breath in between the last page of one and the first page of another. That was not the case after I finished Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. I found myself lingering. Savoring. Turning over the plot and the characters and the language. I re-read passages. I wrote down favorite quotes. I laid awake staring up into the darkness when I should have been sleeping, mulling over everything within the book’s 400-some-odd pages, until eventually I found myself here — in front of my keyboard, in the dark (again, when I should have been sleeping) — typing away to get all these thoughts in my head out into the world in some form.

Because that’s just how haunting Daughter of Smoke & Bone is. It’s unlike any book I’ve ever read and its pages are one I am eager to simply devour again. I’ve never experienced reading quite like this.

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’ve never been a big fan of high fantasy, but really Daughter of Smoke and Bone — though embodying elements of fantasy and the paranormal — is a genre unto itself. Though the story is woven from common elements: questions of identity & star-crossed love — Taylor has brilliantly composed a unique twist on these timeless themes. At every turn, she hooks you with exotic settings, beautiful and engaging unique characters, and heart-breaking twists and turns on every page.

Likewise, the writing itself is absolutely stunning — so breathtaking, it will force you to slow down your reading to savor each word and turn of phrase. It’s an interesting juxtaposition, when the story itself urges you to move forward to find out what’s next, next, next. Overall, the outcome is one of the most rewarding reading experiences I’ve had in a long time.

At times, I felt as if the last big chunk of the book — which is almost a story within a story — dragged a bit, and yet by the end, each moment made sense and leant more weight to the very final moments and the book’s cliffhanger ending.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is a gorgeously written tale of love, loss, family, and war — woven into a fantasy world unlike any other. It will keep you up late reading — and linger with you long after the final page.

It is in stores today.


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