Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

What happens when the good becomes the evil? What if everything you know about heros and villains was wrong?

In Laini Taylor’s debut YA fantasy novel, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, everything you know about traditional good vs. evil cliches are wrong. This is the story of Karou and Akiva. Karou is a demon–Akiva, is an angel. In this series, the angel is the devil in disguise.

Karou is not like other girls. She speaks 20+ languages, natural peacock blue hair, and a body covered in tattoos including two mysterious eyes on her palms. She lives in Prague and attends an art institute by day, but when the sun goes down–her real life begins.

Karou works for a black market wish-monger named Brimstone. Karou’s job is to collect teeth–human teeth, animal teeth, and every kind of teeth in between. Brimstone is a creature from an odd, alternative world of demons and monsters. When he calls on Karou she is transported all over the world to collect, buy, sell, and trade teeth–in exchange Brimstone gives Karou unlimited wishes (within reason). Brimstone is the only family Karou has ever known…he has trained her and raised her like his own daughter. But something inside of Karou is missing….a part of her feels empty–a part she cannot wish away.

One night when Karou returns from one of her teeth missions, she finds a disturbing phenomenon–around the world doorways/portals to the alternative world are being marked by scorched hand prints left by winged messengers–they are delivering a dark omen–a mark of warning.

Meet Akiva, the angel. The angels are ruthless warriors who fight an endless war with evil–the demons. Akiva’s hands are scared with a gruesome tally system–for every tattoo on his hands marks the life of a demon he has killed–his hands are covered. Demon lives are worn as badges of honor on the angel warriors. But has tormented and violent as his life has been, Akiva longs for a different life…free of the killing and war.

The only way to end the war between angels and demons is to sever the connection between the worlds. Akiva and his ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ stalk the human world marking the portals with scorched hand prints. The angels will destroy the demons for good…it will be a fiery end but the war will be over….or so Akiva thinks.

Like Karou, Akiva’s life feels empty. The only think that made Akiva feel complete was his forbidden lover….a lover murdered by the demons long ago. On his final mission to end the war, Akiva sees Karou….a gemstone haired demon girl who somehow feels–right.

A demon who is good, and an angel who is bad, seems so wrong–but when an angel and a demon fall in love it somehow feels so right.

In a rich mythological world, Akiva and Karou are a modern day Romeo and Juliet. Two lovers fighting against the forbidden–the unheard of–trapped in a world of loneliness, forced into desperation….Akiva and Karous are fighting for true love.

But the question remains….will true love conquer all?

Taylor’s novel takes readers to exotic foreign locations (Prague, Marrakech) and creates a colorful world–full of creativity and art. A seductive world where wishes are bought and sold–but still granted–a puzzling fairytale world where anything is possible and there are still mysteries and questions left to be solved and answered.

Seraphim. Nephilim. Angels. Angels seems to have replaced the vampire in popular fiction of late. Recently I have read and reviewed a lot of new angelology fiction in both YA and adult lit…..not to mention my TBR list is full of books where angels are central to the plot. Ironically, my speciality is vampire lit…there is nothing like the tormented soul of a vampire….cold, ruthless, alone, trapped in a human world unable to die….damned….vampires don’t need anyone or want anyone….they fall in love without knowing it.

Angels are similar to the vampire….they are often trapped in a human world when they have fallen from grace or been cast out of heaven….but unlike the vampire, angels want to be in love. They are searching for happiness and love….they need and want a savior. Angels have a deeper sense of feeling, a stronger more passionate, romantic side. While vampires have to search for the remaining good in them, the angels are ultimately the good creatures.

So needless to say that is why DOSAB was on book on my TBR list…..it sounded like a book that flipped what is ‘normal’ in angelology by making the angel a cold, tormented warrior….the villain. Where as the protagonist was a demon…the typical ‘bad’ role. Not to mention she is a Portland author so I have to show some hometown love 🙂

While I enjoyed the book, I have read other angelology books that I liked better….I have to admit, I still love the Infernal Devices series better. I simply felt the romance between Tessa and William more believable than the one between Karou and Akiva….I am not sure why. The romance between Akiva and Karou was sweet and tender, but I didn’t feel the same tension and build up that I felt in Clockwork Angel which was the only thing that kept me from loving this book….but that is also a stylistic preference I suppose 🙂

Essentially though, I liked many things about this book…I especially liked the role reversal…and let’s be honest, everyone loves a classic Romeo and Juliet love story. The mythology and fantasy creatures were compelling, the love story…a classic. The story ended on a suspenseful high note…but I think the thing that I liked best about this book was the setting.

Taylor picked an incredibly enchanting backdrop for the story…Prague. The setting itself was unlike any I have read. Most of the books I read are English or set in England…I could practically speak with a British accent I’ve read so many books set in England! I loved the new-ness of Prague. Taylor clearly loves the city…she captures its beauty and mystique in a way that only someone who truly loves a place can.

They call Prague the ‘fairytale city’ and it fit with this book divinely. The city and its unparalleled artistry make it ideal for a story such as this. It is just far enough away to be unknown and mysterious but not far enough a way to be completely foreign.

I loved that Karou had a unique name and vibrant hair and tattoos to match her unique-ness….I loved that she was an artist studying art and a famous art city that was a world away Paris…everything about this book screams–Different! Color! Art! Creativity! Unique! New! Dazzling!

And they would all be true…in a word sublime.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

  • Hardcover, US, 418 pages
  • Published September 27th 2011 by Little, Brown & Company
  • ISBN 0316134023 (ISBN13: 9780316134026)

This book counts toward the: NA

Recommendation: 4 out of 5 (a unique story with an alternative twist)

Genre: YA, fantasy, angelology

Memorable lines/quotes:

Like mold on books, grows myths on history (120)

How much would your life have to suck to want the apocalypse (154)

What happens when you dither? Others make your choices for you (338)

Love is an element (360)
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1 Comment

  1. I loved this book too. At first I was not so sure mainly because it’s an ‘angel’ book. But, I’m glad I did. It’s awesome and I can’t wait for the 2nd one. Check out my review

    Reply

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