Author: Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Genre: Romantic Fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 420
Release Date: September 2011
Goodreads | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk
Received for review from UK Book Tours.

First sentence:
Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the story of a blue-haired art student from Prague, Karou. The strange characters in her sketchbooks, demonic looking creatures, a mish-mash of different animals with some human qualities, are very popular amongst her classmates, the thing they don’t realise is that these creatures are very real. Karou lives a double life, when she’s not attending art college and spending time with her best friend, Zuzana, she’s running errands for Brimstone, a chimaera who owns a shop that opens up between the two worlds. However, the gateways between this world and the chimaera’s are closing one by one, burnt hand prints appearing on doorways worldwide coming hand in hand with sightings of what can only be described as angels..

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a beautifully weaved story which feels like a work of art in itself. Taylor has created a terrifying world with extravagant races of chimaera, creatures of different beast and human aspects. Karou lives in Prague and so we experience the city through her eyes described in delicate detail and with the use of such amazing otherworldly imagery like, “The falling snow and the early hour conspired to paint Prague ghostly, like a tintype photograph, all silver and haze.” It draws you right into the world and makes you almost completely forget that this story is a product of Taylor’s wonderful imagination.

I want to explain my rating because it fluctuated so much throughout my reading of this book that I almost scrapped the rating altogether and just put the review out there. For the sake of this review, it feels as if the novel is split into three parts. See, the first part of the novel grabbed me so much and made me fall in love. The writing is fantastic, almost poetic, and the premise of the story is so utterly imaginative that I felt sure this was going to be a new favourite and I was all prepared to give it a 5 star rating. Then Akiva, an angel, came into it and I realised that this was going to be pretty heavy on the romance. Anybody who knows me at all will be aware that I’m not fond of romance, especially the all-encompassing love at first sight variety. It’s just a little too heavy for my tastes.

The more romantic the book became, the surer I was that this section, which I will call section two, was going to get a 2 star rating. It was okay, the writing was still just as wonderful, but I don’t enjoy romance, and Karou’s, “Woe is me, I’m so lonely, something is missing!” got on my nerves. The romance itself ruined it for me. It was quite a sweet romance, it just happened too fast which took away from the story for me. It also bothered me when Taylor would describe a scene from one perspective and then switch to another and describe it from their eyes. It would have worked better for me if she’d switched to the other character after that particular scene had happened and then they go over their feelings rather than describe the scene again. It made things a little repetitive in parts.

And then we have the third section which is something a little different. I liked it. It was well written and tells us a lot about the characters, their world, and the history, and it gave the novel variety, but I felt it dragged a little after a while. By the end, I was torn between giving Daughter of Smoke and Bone a 2 or maybe 3 star rating because I struggled with the last half of the book so much, but the imagination of Laini Taylor in creating this mythos and her beautiful use of language deserves so much better. If it wasn’t for the romance, which you might not be so put off by as I am, I would have given Daughter of Smoke and Bone 5 stars easily but it just wasn’t for me, so I met myself somewhere in the middle. It was an enjoyable read and I did have a little bit of a soft spot for the Romeo & Juliet feel in the last part.

I would definitely recommend you go and pre-order Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which will be released September 29th in the UK. If you don’t mind romance, it is an amazing story that deserves to be read and loved. Taylor uses language like colour to paint her story creating a beautiful atmosphere. The angels are not typical angels, they’re neither good nor evil, and the chimaera are an amazing race that you will fall in love with.

And from Laini Taylor’s blog, I came across the book trailer:

And also the final UK cover for Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which is awesome: