Being a member of the GoodReads website it becomes so easy to get lost in the thousands of books, to become swamped in recommendations and friend updates, and to grow and never ended list of books to read both in fiction and nonfiction categories. It is here that I came across “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor. Although it seems really quite fashionable at the moment, I didn’t really know to think that this book was in the Young Adult category, and as such, I didn’t know what to expect from it.
I didn’t expect it to be about the supernatural, about magic and about the celestial battle between angels and devils [essentially]. I also didn’t expect to get into it as quickly as I did, nor to finish it as quickly as I did. As mentioned, I had no idea what to expect. I thought it would a difficult book about a murder for some reason – even though the blurb on the back says that it’s about the two lives of Karou; one of the art student, and the other about “Elsewhere”.
I think there are several things that need to be said about this book. One; the theme, two; the main character and her friends and family, and three; the ending.
So some thoughts on the theme of the book which I’ll also include the main plot without giving the storyline away. The basic plot is about Karou, her duties as a ward of Brimstone and her Chimera family [for those of you that don’t know what a Chimera is, it’s a mixture of one or more animals in one body, for instance, a Sphinx] but the Chimera’s in this book are all sorts of mixtures of creatures which is discussed upon later. She also lives in the real world, attending school in Prague, having travelled a fair distance around the world. She also speaks a lot of languages too thanks to “wishes”.
Wishes are a kind of magic, and are also a currency. Think Knut, Sickles and Galleons but with different names. And more denominations. Karou wants more powerful wishes but Brimstone never pays her in those.
I liked this world that the author created, the hints of more powerful magic and what could come of Brimstones’ shop and “Elsewhere”. I have to say I didn’t expect the Seraphim, the angels and the war. Nor did I expect the ending – so it must show that this is a good book in terms of the ending and the potential for the next book in the series. [It’s a trilogy, as so many books seem to be these days].
Karou is the main character with a shocking head of blue hair “wished” that way. We meet her as she’s on her way to art school, where everyone simply loves her artwork. She has only one true friend, an ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, and her apparently loneliness and orphan status. She’s also pretty kick-ass. She’s got skills, strength and an independent mind. In all, a good strong female character, surrounded pretty much by other good female characters. [Can you sense the massive “BUT” coming on?]. However, despite her being a good source of strength, a good female character, she does grate on my nerves a bit. Throughout the first half of the book she bemoans the fact that she feels incomplete, empty, not quite as though everything is right with the world. And suddenly, enter an “angel”, with whom Karou falls [almost] instantaneously in love with, the feeling reciprocated, and how the mystery surrounding her is resolved.
I hate that books, especially books that are in the Young Adult category which are almost directly promoted towards mainly girls and young women, that actively promote throughout the book that the only thing that can make you complete is the notion of falling in love and having a relationship with someone. This doesn’t stem from me a an embittered soul [I have a wonderful boyfriend], I just don’t think it’s healthy to promote world shattering love when finding it is so rare. There are other things that can make a person feel complete, having a relationship is not the be all and end all of life.
I really didn’t think the book would end in the way that it did. In fact, I am really not sure how I thought it would end. For this reason I will buy and read the next book in the series, because aside from my gripes about a certain aspect to the main character, I enjoyed the overall plotline and would like to see where it is taken.
There are a few other things that I would like to say that I liked about this book: the way the chapters were set out, and the little font used either side of the chapter names which took me until half way through the book to realise that they were angel wings. Some of the shorter chapters, and the switching point of views quite well done in my opinion, as where the chapters where Karou was finding out about her history and her past.
In all: I am looking forwards to reading the next book, which I am sure will make it top of the list fairly quickly.
Keep on smiling,