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 grows 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?
Once Upon A Time…
There’s a definite fairy tale feel to this story. Karou is an orphan who is both gifted and isolated, haunted by the question of just who she might be and where she fits in the universe, not quite part of the human world and yet definitely not one of the Chimera, the race of fantastical beings she grew up among.
It’s through Karou that we learn about the magic of wishes and her adoptive father, Brimstone, the Wishmonger. She runs errands for him, meeting up with his many traders of teeth, bringing his bounty back and distributing the tokens of wishes he pays out for them. And yet there’s so much about Brimstone and his work she doesn’t know: why he needs the teeth, what he does with them and why must he toil, night and day, always, always, always counting teeth?
A World Apart
While Karou is busy fetching teeth for Brimstone and trying to blend into her art school in Prague, aided in no small part by her friend, the wry and wonderful, pint-sized, Zuzana, someone is stalking the doors that lead from Brimstone’s shop to points all over the world. Someone who glows with unearthly light and who’s hand burns through wood, leaving scorched prints on every door, though to what end Karou does not know.
Then when Karou least expects it, her world is stolen from her. Brimstone and all of her beloved Chimera family vanish and she’s stuck on the Earth-side of Brimstone’s doors. She must not only survive, but find out just what happened to her friends and why.
Love and Betrayal
So, there’s an UNBELIEVABLE love story that goes along with this tale. Unfortunately, if I tell you anything about it, even who it is that is in love, it would be an ENORMOUS spoiler. *sad face* But I WILL say that this book has not just love aplenty but enough betrayal to make you sigh in ecstasy one moment and then weep the next.
And throughout it all, is the question of what makes a person who they are? Is it their actions? Their memories? Their choices? And how do the extenuating circumstances of war, loss, grief and rage play into that subtle mix? And can a person change who they are?
I loved the deeper levels of this book almost as much as I loved the surface fantasy, at both so compellingly familiar and enchantingly different. I loved the rules of this world, the wishes and the price those wishes cost. And I loved, loved, loved these nuanced characters! Karou is definitely not a paper-cut out heroine, particularly as we, and she, learn more about her origins. I love Zuzana and Brimstone, so loyal and loving and completely there for Karou, no matter how much at arms length she is from them.
But more than the characters and the fabulous world they live in, I loved the writing in this book! It went beyond witty to truly sublime. I loved the phrasing, the humor that infused even the sadder moments, and the way Ms. Taylor used words like paint, drawing the reader in to the complete picture of her world.
Get your own Audiobook at audible:
Daughter of Smoke and Bone (unabridged, 12hrs 32 min)
It’s no surprise I loved the audiobook version of this book. It was such an amazing treat to hop into my car after a long day of being a corporate cog and slip into the silken pleasure of this world! The narrator, Khristine Hvam, does a superb job of bringing these characters to life, particularly Brimstone, and delivers my favorite line in the book with a perfect, dry, dead-pan voice:
“I don’t know many rules to live by,” he’d said. “But here’s one. It’s simple. Don’t put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles–drug or tattoo–and…no inessential penises either.”
“Inessential penises?” Karou had repeated, delighted with the phrase in spite of her grief. “Is there any such thing as an essential one?”
“When an essential one comes along, you’ll know,” he’d replied.
As many of you know, Daughter of Smoke and Bone was released last year and you can see that Danny loved it as much as I did from her review here. So of course we’re both CRAZY jonesing for the next installment, Days of Blood and Starlight, which won’t be out until the fall. But *cough*please, please, please *cough* maybe the lovely folks at Little, Brown & Company will have mercy on us and send us an early copy?? *sad puppy eyes* and *fingers crossed*
Along those lines, we WERE lucky enough to get our hands on an extended preview of the next book and I’ll just say that it’s glorious and I need the whole thing….LIKE NOW!!
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