Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

daughter of smoke and boneDaughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Book #1 – Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy,
Audiobook narrated by Khristine Hvam

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 grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly 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?

 D.G.’s Rating – 5 skulls: A

This book is the beginning of a journey…a journey through the essence of hope and pain, full of wonderful imagery and a seemingly whimsical combination of words that envelopes you strongly and doesn’t let you go. The story is almost epic in its scope, seemingly simple while slowly transforming into mistakes as old as time: enmity that evolves into a never-ending war. We’ve experienced this story so many times in the history of the World that it’s amazing how we keep doing it again and again. And that’s why expecting that war will end and that we’ll learn to live amicably is such a forlorn hope…or is it?

You may have heard from other reviewers that there is a ‘shift’ in this book where the story takes a different turn. I saw it mostly as the set up of the bigger story arc, a before and after where the “after” was told at the beginning. I think it’s skillfully done and in my opinion didn’t detract from the story in particular but be aware that as I mentioned before, this book is the beginning.

While I read this book, I bookmarked a lot of passages like:

Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.

Love is an element. An element. Like air to breath, earth to stand on.

Never repent of your goodness. To stay true in the face of evil is a feat of strength.

If I would have heard those passages on their own, I would have thought they were naïve and even maudlin, great sentiments without substance. But when experienced within the story they are powerful and life-altering, and made me realize that I’ve had a big cache of hope that I’ve left untapped. And isn’t that a shame!

I don’t want to talk about specific plot points because I don’t want to give spoilers but I need to give big thanks to Ms. Taylor for two things:

— Zuzana. She is the BEST BFF I’ve read in YA. She was funny, strong, quirky, loyal and most importantly. She had her own life! Most of the time, BFFs in books are almost colorless people that are just there to serve as sounding boards to the main characters. Not in this case! Thanks for making the BFF a real person!

— Prague as setting: It’s soo boring when every book is set in the same old locations…thanks for the different setting and for the marvelous job of its portrayal. Prague was almost a character on its own, full of charm and mystery.

I also want to give kudos to Khristine Hvam for her AMAZING narration. She does the character voices and accents very convincingly and captures the mood and humor of the book. This is a wonderful story that can be enjoyed on its own but she definitively brought a certain joie de vivre that I don’t know I would have gotten on my own.

Overall, an marvelous story full of pain and sorrow, love and hope. I can’t wait for the sequel and see which side wins, although I hope, I firmly hope, that it’s the latter.

Rating:  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Series Reading Order:
1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
2. Days of Blood and Starlight (to be reviewed at the end of this week.)

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