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Friday, 2 September 2011

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Author: Laini Taylor

Release date: 29th September 2011
Genre: Fantasy / Urban Fantasy
Target audience: YA / Adult Crossover
UK Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Review:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a quirky, imaginative fantasy which bridges our world with a majestic fantasy world beyond.

The central character is Karou. She lives in Prague and is an art student. Karou is living a double life. She didn’t grow up in our world. She grew up in a shop with its own special magic. The shop is a mysterious, bizarre place and it is the home to three Chimera: Issa, Yasri and Brimstone. They are the only family Karou has ever known and under Brimstone’s aloof touch and watchful eye, Karou became an artistic, inquisitive human girl. Brimstone is a sorcerer of sorts. He is the granter of wishes. Karou is allowed her fill of the tiny scuppy wishes – that’s how her hair came to be bright blue. But the big wishes – like being able to fly – are never given to her. There is a price for these wishes but Karou never thinks to ask what that might be.

At seventeen and now living outside of the shop, Karou is feeling alone. She may be human but she doesn’t belong truly in this world. She wants to belong with the monsters in Brimstone’s shop but he is keeping many secrets from her and she can’t resist the power of her curiosity. Karou is sent on errands for Brimstone through the magical portal of the shop’s second door. It can open anywhere in the human world and so Karou risks life and limb to bring Brimstone the strange thing he buys: teeth. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is incredibly quirky.

I really enjoyed the parts of the novel that were set in Prague. Taylor made it truly come to life and I wanted to leap into the book and walk the streets. The scenes portraying Karou’s friendship with Zuzana were charming and their dialogue was a delight to read. I really liked the characterisation of Zuzana as small and fierce. It made me chuckle. The mysteries at the beginning of the book really had me intrigued. Why all the teeth? Why was a human girl raised by monsters? What was behind the door that Karou was never allowed to see opened?

However, once some of the mystery had been unravelled – like what was behind the door for instance – I felt myself less desperate to read on. I think in part this was because towards the end of the novel there is a huge amount of back story delivered to the reader. We learn a lot about Karou’s past and it took me away from the excitement and action of the story unfolding in a linear fashion. I think I was also a little disappointed on the emphasis of the romance in the story. I really wanted Daughter of Smoke and Bone to be the quirky fantastical tale that I thought it was going to be and less about two souls falling in love. I’m hoping the future of the trilogy is more bizarre and less star-crossed lovers but we shall see. Either way, this book was wonderfully written and eccentric.
Thank you to Hodder for sending me the book to review.

5 comments:

Joel Le Blanc said...

Thanks for the review - will be looking out for this book! Sounds fascinating.

Liz. R said...

I have this one on my tbr - I love quirky, so it definitely sounds for me! Glad you enjoyed this one, I can't wait to start it. Fab review!

turn-the-page.net said...

Thanks for the review - I think its the first one I've read that hasn't just praised it unconditionally. Nothing wrong with that of course - I've written a few reviews like that, where I've found nothing wrong with a book and just love it - but it was helpful to read your review by comparison as well :D

By all account everyone seems to love this one - so I can't wait for it!

Amy @ Turn the Page

Eva Lyford said...

Thanks for the review, I have added this to my to-read list now!

kirsty at the overflowing library said...

fab review - I agree about the parts set in prague. It made me want to go there