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?
Hardcover, US, 418 pages Published September 27th 2011 by Little, Brown & Company
This is the story of an extraordinary girl. A girl with aquamarine hair, who lives between two worlds; two distinct existences separated by magical doors. Behind the doors is the mystical workshop of the sorcerer Brimstone. He is a chimaera, a being that is a conglomerate of animals. In his secluded and shrouded shop he strings together wishes, for he is the Wishmonger. Caught in a world embroiled in war he clings to a shred of hope. That glimmer of hope resides in Karou, the tall, beautiful girl, with cerulean locks of hair and tattooed eyes on her palms; reared in the clandestine workshop by Brimstone and his three chimaera companions. Beyond the doors is the mortal world, where she resides in Prague and attempts to draw her existence into her sketch books. Karou aches with loneliness, her insides hollow; a portion of her soul absent. Her story is a lost volume. A tale of star-crossed lovers, swept together by the fingers of fate. It begins on a battlefield, where two souls born as enemies collide. A wounded, dying seraphim and chimaera. A heartbeat, a quizzical look, a slight head tilt, a pause and a moment that changes everything. A whisper of destiny, a binding of a wound, a life restored and forever altered. A wisp of time passes and the two entities converge again and a tender, hopeful love blooms; it is a dream for peace, an end to war. Then the sprig of hope is crushed and lost, only emptiness remains. This is the story of a devil falling in love with an angel, but who is the devil and who is the angel?
What I Loved:
- This book is an astonishing, literary gem. Laini Taylor crafts her words into a story that is unique, phenomenal and ingenious. Her writing is like a gust of fresh air, that swirls and dances in your head and takes your breath away. I was continuously highlighting and clipping in my Kindle the abundant, gorgeous passages. Ms. Taylor is an author gifted beyond measure. You must experience her exquisite talent.
- The characters in this novel are so real and they possess layer upon layer of depth. Karou, the dazzling, azure haired, beauty is smart, capable and independent. She is an artist extraordinaire. How I longed to peer into her sketchbook. Her life is a tangle of questions and she is adrift in a sea of loneliness. I was captivated by this girl, with the name that means hope and I found myself envying her blue hair. Akiva, the seraphim, is intimidating, haunted, his soul shattered. At first encounter he terrifies but when his glamour falls away there is a glimpse into his heartbreak, then he evolves and draws you in, and you grow to love him. Brimstone, the wizard of wishes, was my favorite character. He is wise, understanding, patient, and a complexity. He is enigmatic and he wears his great secret around his neck. My opinion of him vacillated throughout pondering whether he was good or evil but in the end he touched my heart with his preservation of a life; a life that dared to love and hope.
- The setting; Prague shines in this story. I meandered through the maze of cobbled streets and ate at the Poison Kitchen. I floated in the air and peered down at the colored rooftops and shimmering lights that snaked along the river. I passed by the haunted graveyards, gazed at the gargoyles and statues around the historic buildings. This beautiful, old city comes alive in the pages of the novel. When the story shifted to other locations I longed to return to the streets of Prague. While I reveled in my travels to Prague, I was also intrigued by the fascinating world of the Chimaera and the Seraphim. I loved Brimstone's hidden workshop with it's jars of teeth and vast secrets. It exists in a world entrenched in an endless war. Two sides that have fought for so long they have forgotten many of the precursors that led to the fighting. Now all that they know is hate, bloodshed and death. Ms. Taylor weaves mythology and magic expertly into the creation of her worlds. She manages to reach out of the pages, grasp your hand and lead you into her vision.
- Finally the story. The main plot follows the story of the lovers is not revealed until late in the book. This book takes it's time building the worlds and sculpting the characters, then comes the exposure of the lover's tragedy. It touches your heart and tears into your emotions. It ultimately has you questioning the good and the bad; who is right who is wrong. This novel submerges into your mind.
And The Not So Much:
- I am stunned that this book is catalogued in the Young Adult genre. This is a book that eclipses beyond the Young Adult label. This is a literary work of art that should be appreciated by book connoisseurs, both young and old. I worry that many savvy readers may overlook this title due to the classification. Furthermore, the writing is precisely detailed and complex, it may be over the heads of many young adult readers.
- This book is bursting with an extended vocabulary. I highly recommend reading this with an electronic reader in order to define some of the terms, this will allow you to fully soak in the entirety of the story. Do not attempt to read this when you are distracted or weary; you cannot flitter through the words. You must take your time, read, savor and absorb this enticing tale.
- The ending....it had me gnashing my teeth and pulling my hair. The story concludes with just a splice of an epilogue. I was left suspended on the edge of the slash in the sky with a slew of unanswered questions. Ms. Taylor how could you be so cruel to leave the story so unfinished? The wait for the next book will be tremendously long.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a book that has reached the pinnacle level of my favorite reads shelf. I can only try to convey the intricate beauty of this haunting love story. I wholeheartedly recommend this masterpiece. Sweep away any and all preconceived notions before delving into this pages. This carefully, crafted book is a stupendous achievement and it all begins with the simple line, "Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love....."
“The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks.”
“As she walked, clock towers across Prague started arguing midnight, and the long, fraught Monday came at last to a close.”
“Someone who would wait with an umbrella to walk her home in the rain, and smile like sunshine when he saw her coming. Who would dance with her on her balcony, keep his promises and know her secrets, and make a tiny world wherever he was, with just her and his arms and his whisper and her trust.”
“Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?”
“Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes it’s own magic.”
“whatever it was, it was as sweet as a patch of sun on a glossy floor and, like a cat, she just wanted to curl up in it.”
“Your soul sings to mine. My soul is yours, and it always will be, in any world. No matter what happens-”
“She is in love. It is bright within her, like a swallowed star.”
“No. Love is an element.” “An element. Like air to breathe, earth to stand on.”
“Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort.”