“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.”
Great opening line, right? So begins Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. If I had a daughter, I’d be proud to have her read it. This Young Adult (YA) urban fantasy is witty, intelligent and captivating. And unlike some other YA books, it manages to get morality across without being preachy.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the story of Karou, a 17-year-old girl in Prague who is by day an art student and by night an errand runner for Brimstone, a strange creature part of a race called Chimera. He trades teeth (animal and human) for coins that grant wishes on the supernatural black market. Karou doesn’t know her parents, her past or how she got mysterious eye-like tattoos (called hamsa) on the palms of both of her hands. Brimstone raised her from a baby and as a result, she is aware of how the supernatural world overlaps our own. Eventually, her two worlds collide when menacing black handprints are seared into the doors that are portals between the worlds, and a mysterious angel named Akiva becomes obsessed with her, leading her on a voyage of self-discovery that will change her life, her very identity, and set the stage for an Otherworldly war.
Though this book is fantasy, the thing I liked most about it was how much I could relate to it. Karou and her best friend, Zusana, remind me of me and my best friend (even down to the eerily accurate conversations) and Karou is very normal, despite her knowledge of supernatural things. She makes mistakes and suffers the same trials and temptations of every teenage girl. Even Brimstone, as animal as he is, is the father/brother/protector every girl/woman should have in her life at least once. In the mist of all the wishes, magic and impossible feats is a very real love story and a chilling tale of hate and genocide that smacks very much of our own history.
And if that wasn’t enough, Laini Taylor writes in such an evocative way, you feel like you’re walking through the streets of Prague with her. Her writing is lyrical and beautifully done.
Did I mention these books are laugh out loud funny? I listened to them on audiobook, and it’s a good thing I was alone, because I snorted a few times. One of my favorite exchanges comes near the beginning of the book:
“’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.”
I picked up Daughter of Smoke and Bone not because of all the acclaim around it (it’s been on practically every #1 list out there), but because author Veronica Roth recommended it on the basis of the quality of the writing. I’m so glad I took her word for it. I hope you will love it as much as I did. I can’t wait for the second book in the series, which is due out this fall.
Have you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone? What did you think of it? What other D topics would you like to read about?