Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Posted 27 June, 2012 by Pushy in Blog, Pushy, Pushy Book Review / 43 Comments

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication: September 27th 2011 by Little, Brown & Company
Audiobook borrowed from library
Get your own: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound
synopsis from Goodreads

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?

Love and betrayal, a fantasy world and contemporary Prague all intertwine in a a story of love, loss and self-discovery.

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.

Bewitched Rating

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a world to loose yourself in, this is it!  My only advice would be to savor it, because it’s over far sooner than you’ll like!


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.


Additional Notes

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!!


So tell me…have you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone already? Have you seen the buzz? What did/do YOU think? Let me know in the comments!
Now go and get lost…in a book!
Lover of words and authors; absolute fan girl of books! Give me a good story, with characters I can love (and hate) and I’ll follow you anywhere. Sing me a song of worlds I can dream of, and I’ll listen forever.

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43 Responses to “Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor”

  1. Yay so happy to see love for this one! It’s so imaginative right? I loved it and Karou is such a fun, wonderful character! And YES’ the love story is SO sweet I loved it! And Brimstone! omg I would have NEVER guessed what those teeth were for! So freaking cool in a weird way Lol Beautiful review, Pushy!

  2. I really do need to read this book soon. Everyone keeps raving about it, but I still haven’t gotten around to reading it ! 🙁
    The characters and romance seem pretty well-done. Thanks for the great review, Pushy 🙂

      • Greta

        I think it might have been the tone of the book and the amount of characters. Plus, I don’t do well with mythology. Makes my head swim. Yup, I think the audiobook would probably be best for me. I can listen to it during turtle walks. I’ll have to snag it the week it is available.

  3. I always love coming across other reviews by people who loved this book. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was hands down my favorite read of 2011 and I’m jonesing, like you, to get my hands on its sequel. And I’m thrilled to hear that the sampler proved the sequel to be just as intriguing. Cannot wait to read!

    Wonderful review! <3
    Ash @ Typing Tiara recently posted..Wishing on Wednesday [37]My Profile

  4. Davon Zain

    Thanks for your great job. I honor them very much who’ve a power of creativity. I wish to collect and learn you for improve my career.
    Davon Zain recently posted..Get Laid TodayMy Profile

  5. Pushy <3

    What a wonderful review my sweet ^.^
    As you said, I also love the depth of this book as much as the gorgoues fantasy Taylor created. Absolute wondrous review my dear! you do make justice to this breathtaking tale =)

    ^.^ best!!

    Naty <3
    Natalia Belikov recently posted..Waiting on WednesdayMy Profile

  6. Another fabulous review by Pushy!!! I absolutely loved this novel! It was my favorite book last year, maybe of all time. I loved it so much, I couldn’t review it. I don’t think she missed my review. She had enough. I could not get enough of the world, the story Akiva told her. It broke my heart and Karou so determined and fierce! It was absolutely stunning. Laini Taylor does paint with words. I’ve come across a few authors that can do it, but by far, she’s the best. I’m so glad you loved it!

    hrose2931 recently posted..Derek the Ghost Guest Post on Inspiration and GiveawayMy Profile

  7. Begging? At the end of your review? I”m shocked–shocked!!–I say! (Of course, I feel exactly the same way and, if it would do any good, would also beg for the next in this fantastic series! I hear it was at ALA…)

    SUCH a FANTASTIC book! I loved the unexpected love story and the surprising family aspect to this book. Can’t wait for the next one.
    Mary @ Book Swarm recently posted..Speed Date with Ava: SEA CHANGE by Karen WhiteMy Profile

  8. Once upon a time,
    an angel and a devil fell in love.
    It did not end well.

    That opener instantly caught me! You’re right that it felt like a fairy tale and the writing was just so good! Lately there hasn’t been a lot of books that makes me wish there were more pages for me to read but Daughter of Smoke and Bone was definitely one of them! 🙂

  9. I avoided reading this book for so long because of the hype. I was afraid of being disappointed.
    Boy was I wrong. It deserves the hype. I was blown away!

  10. Hi there, I ran across your blog as a result of Yahoo and google when researching an associated issue, your blog emerged, this indicates very good. We’ve saved as a favorite to favorites|combined with bookmarks.

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