I have wanted to read this for a very long time and I’ve finally squeezed it in as this weekend’s commute book! It was a little different to what I expected and I have mixed feelings on it, but here’s what I thought.
Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
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.
This one’s been on my TBR for longer than I care to admit. It’s been sat on my bedside table for the better part of eighteen months, even moving from the bedside table at ‘home home’ to uni halls and now to my flat…it’s always been next on my list but somehow another book has jumped in front and I don’t quite know how I let it happen.
Not long into starting Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I realised it’s not quite what I signed up for. I tend to steer clear of high fantasy but this certainly dips in and out of it which is not exactly what I expected. Obviously it’s clear from the blurb that there’s an element of fantasy but at some points we go completely off-kilter and it took me a while to work out what was going on. I found it hard to get through the large chunks that I would class as high fantasy but once it started to make a bit more sense, it was much easier to handle and tolerate. If you’re like me and not really a fan of this genre then I suggest giving this a try because by the end of the book I’ve found myself somewhat converted – or at least on my way there.
Contrary to a lot, if not all, of the YA fiction I’ve read this year, Laini Taylor has written this novel in third person which is how she manages to get away with the amount of world jumping she does. This also switched things up a little bit in terms of following the plot. For at least three quarters of the novel there are two (and a bit) narratives going on simultaneously. Once you get your head around it all you realise just how freaking clever it all is. I absolutely cannot fault Laini’s writing. It kept me going and stopped me from putting it down when my reading instincts were telling me to. As much as I struggled with it to begin with, the last seventy-odd pages were so, SO good. Everything completely merged into one coherent, absolutely bloody brilliant plot. I’m so glad I stuck it out because, wow. I definitely want to read the rest of the series now and I’m even tempted to try some other fantasy novels that err closer to the full on high fantasy genre that I’ve been so sceptical of previously.
It terms of the characters, they’re an interesting bunch. A mix of humans, angel-like-Seraphs, Chimera (a kind of amalgamation of humans and different animals)…yep. They’re eclectic. There are some interspecies relationships that happen which I really struggled to get on board with until the separate narratives linked and things were explained. If you’re a fan of a forbidden love/love conquers all kind of situation you will really grow to love the way this novel goes. Although fair warning for the usual YA heartbreak…
To round it up, it was certainly not what I expected but by the end I think I really enjoyed it. At some point I’m going to give the sequel a try and see how I get on. I’m quietly optimistic that this book and the series will really grow on me.