After reading multiple reviews of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, in particular Alisa’s illustration and discussion on Picture Me Reading, I finally broke down and read my first Angel/Demons urban fantasy novel. I picked it up from the library, and intrigued by the cover art I immediately started reading it, even though I was in the middle of at least three other books (when am I not?). I couldn’t put this book down. The second I finished it I requested Days of Blood & Starlight.
Karou is an art student in Prague, she has hair that grows out of her head bright blue and she runs mysterious errands all the time, leaving her friends confused and frustrated. She also fills her sketchbook with strange and wonderful creatures. Karou doesn’t know who she really is, she grew up in a shop where her foster father gathers teeth for a living and her errands involved stepping through magical doors to track down even more teeth. On one of these crazy errands she catches the fire-colored eyes of a stranger, and soon their lives are inextricably intertwined.
The best thing I can say about this book is that it lived up to its hype- in all seriousness. There was a lot of hype. Karou is one of the more interesting characters lately that has popped up in the YA UF genre. She is strong, lively, creative, and hungry for life. I love her outlook and her desire to figure out who she really is and why she grew up with Brimstone and the other Chimera. I like her love interest, Akiva, as well. I think the romance between Karou and Akiva plays nearly perfectly. He is a strange being and his take on the story adds to the book and doesn’t detract from Taylor’s good story telling. This is one series were the alternating points of view works (and you all know I’m not usually a fan). But bonus, the side characters are also interesting, unique, and creative. I love all of the descriptions about the artwork that both Karou and Zuzana do. Their art sounds super cool. Zuzana is small and feisty and she makes Karou be a good friend. In fact, Zuzana reminds me of Kenzi from Lost Girl.
My favorite quote from Daughter of Smoke & Bone made me giggle for a long time after reading it. (It is near the beginning of the book and I don’t think it contains any spoilers.)
“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.”
But this story is more than just girl meets boy romance. There is also family drama, friendships that are strained, and a wonderful cast of characters that fill the imagination with colorful images. My one point of contention is that I figured out the “twist” pretty far in advance and thought, ‘OK, just get to the reveal already.’ In improv there comes a point where the teacher yells at us to just say it already, tension is fine, but sometimes you reach the point where it’s just a plot trope and the reveal should have been told a tad sooner. I felt that way about the twist in Daughter of Smoke & Bone. The reveal could have happened a few chapters earlier and maybe I wouldn’t have figured it out (though… due to my father’s genetics, I probably still would have). It is a really good twist, so I do appreciate a unique plot turn and even if I skimmed ahead to read the reveal in the way I wish it had been edited, that is just something that I do because of how I like to read books.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone is a great Angel/Demon fantasy story that will capture the imagination and leave the reader wanting more. Karou is interesting strong, vulnerable, and just a wonderful character. Her romance with Akiva is delightful, and the sections from Akiva’s point of view add to the story in a unique way. Set aside time to read this book, because it will be hard to put down once you start.