Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone was recommended and lent to me by a friend. It is a 418 page fantasy/magical realism novel by Laini Taylor. It is also the first book in the series of the same name.

The plot of the novel focuses on a 16 year old girl, Karou, who grew up in Prague in the presence of three chimaera and strange men who bring teeth to the chimaera named Brimstone to trade for wishes. Needless to say, her childhood was a little odd. Karou attends a school for the arts; she studies drawing and painting alongside her best friend Zuzana, who studies more physical arts–like puppetry.

Everything seems “normal,” or as normal as it can get for Karou, until Brimstone sends her on a mission to get more teeth in Marrakesh (Morocco) and she is interrupted by Akiva, an angel bent on closing the portal doors to Brimstone’s shop and cutting Karou off from her only family, for reasons unknown to her. When Karou tries to stop him, she sets on an unstoppable course to finding the true, awful, source of magic and the unending war in another world known as Eretz between angels and chimaera.

Karou is a romantic character that I could actually get behind–she was up front and realistic about everything in her life. I don’t read romance very often, mostly because I detest the characters, but Laini Taylor definitely managed to give Karou a strong personality. Akiva is also fantastic as the avenging angel counterpart to Karou’s chimaera-loving ways. Both of them were strong and really enjoyable to read about.

My favorite part about this book was finding out about the other world, and the endless war between angels and chimaera. Taylor wrote some really imaginative stuff, including the fallen angel on Earth, Razgut, who is hideously intriguing. Even if the characters hadn’t been so enjoyable to read about, I still would have finished the novel for the stories about the other world. I also loved the blurred lines between the “good” guys and the “bad” guys.

Along with Karou and Akiva’s present story, we also get to read about Akiva’s past and relationship with a chimaera known as Madrigal. This relationship was brutally ended due to the war between the angels and chimaeras. While the view from the chimaera make it seem that the angels are to blame, the war is always portrayed realistically, and there are clearly “bad” guys on both sides.

This book was a fantastic start to to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. The unique history of the world (I absolutely loved the origin myths of angels and chimaeras and the stories of the two moons of Eretz) was wonderful to read about. Also, independent and strong characters didn’t hurt, making this book an easy read that I slid through quickly. Although it is both a YA novel and a romantic one, it has deep themes of good vs. evil (really, the gray area in between) and the strength necessary to do what’s right for yourself. That is main reason I ended up liking Karou–because she didn’t seem like a typical teen. I would recommend Daughter of Smoke and Bone to anyone who likes fantasy or YA novels, because I enjoy both and I loved this book.

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