Thursday, 4 July 2013
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Author: Laini Taylor
Released: September 27th 2011
Pages: 418 (Hardback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Add on Goodreads
"Errand requiring immediate attention. Come."
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came."
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone was released ages ago, but try as I might, I never seemed to be able to get a copy of it - well, until now. This book is one of the most highly anticipated releases of this decade, and two years later, the hype surrounding it is still thick. Going into it, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect - but what I got was far better than anything I could have dreamt of.
The concept of the book is amazingly intricate. Karou, the main protagonist, is a bit of an enigma - no one really knows who she is or where she came from; she just is. Trying to balance a life between living as an art student in Prague and being a messenger for the powerful chimaera, Brimstone, everything she knows collapses around her when the angels arrive. Or more specifically, when Akiva arrives - Akiva, with his hidden wings and fiery eyes and the power to make Karou feel whole. There is more to him than meets the eye, and as their lives become intertwined, Karou realises that there is more to her than she ever believed.
I don't know where to start. Do you ever read books that seem like pure perfection? Like you've just read this once-in-a-lifetime book, and your world will never be the same again? Daughter of Smoke and Bone gave me a major book hangover, and at the moment I don't have the will to read anything else, because it will dim in comparison. Taylor's writing is unique, and she builds a story up by using thick and seductive language, turning the polluted and grey Earth into something rich and flavoursome. This combined with the magic of Elsewhere created a base for a breathtaking story - I wish I'd come up with this world myself!
Karou was a brilliant narrative. I don't usually like characters who sometimes go on about their own beauty, but with Karou, I didn't mind at all. With Taylor's language, everyone seemed beautiful. Karou was also strong and feisty; a perfect protagonist for a perfect story.
Akiva was pretty amazing too. Ha, "pretty amazing" seems crazily insignificant. Akiva was even more perfect a character than Karou, which seems impossible, but it's true. Again, Taylor's writing abilities came into play, and although Akiva is unbelievable, it fits well with this unbelievable story.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of the best escapism reads I have ever come across. It is truly unrealistic, but it envelops you completely until you may as well be living this story alongside Karou and Akiva. I became completely engrossed by the story, so much so that I did end up crying late last night. The emotion is so raw, and I think it affects the reader so much because it isn't a happily-ever-after kind of story. Despite the unrealistic themes, the outcome of the story is realistic. As an avid YA reader, I guess I get used to good endings - the guy gets the girl and they go riding off into the sunset in a shiny convertible with a retractable roof - it's the cliché ending, and Taylor didn't go along with it. The author kept the emotions and the characters' reactions deep and pure, provoking the same reaction out of the reader.
Overall, I adored this read. It was a bit slow to begin with, and for a few chapters I just didn't get it. But then it was like a light bulb switched on, and I did, and it suddenly became one of the best books I'd ever read. I couldn't put it down, and I constantly wanted to know more - and now that I've finished it, I'm desperate to get my hands on Days of Blood and Starlight! If you love paranormal/fantasy novels, this is the book for you. Actually, scratch that - if you like YA novels in general, read this. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing.