Author: Laini Taylor
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Read: Mar. 2017
I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did, but with all the hype about Strange the Dreamer I decided to give this series a try first. The plot is a little outside of what I usually read, but I’m so glad I decided to broaden my horizons because this was wonderful!
Even with the bizarre plot in Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Laini Taylor had me hooked from the first chapter! Karou is a young art student living in Prague; she’s just broken up with her loser boyfriend, Kaz, and would rather spend her time drawing pictures of monsters with her best friend Zuzana. But Karou’s secret is that all the monsters in her sketchbook are real. She was raised by two of these monsters, Brimstone and Issa, in a shop with a door that can transport Karou to any city in the world, and often does as she runs strange errands for Brimstone, collecting teeth in exchange for wishes.
But Karou’s world is torn apart when strange scorched handprints begin showing up on all of Brimstone’s portals and she finds herself alone in Praque, cut adrift from the only family she’s ever known.
I immediately liked Karou, thought the dialogue was witty, and I loved the setting. Actually, I thought the setting was one of the strongest parts of the novel and created a sense of mystery and excitement from the very beginning. I really enjoyed learning about Karou’s Prague and I found Brimstone’s shop with it’s many portals intriguing. Plus I had a good laugh watching Karou mess with Kaz!
This was my first Laini Taylor book, but I can see why everyone loves her – her writing style is excellent and I loved the depth of her characters. Zuzana was one of my favourite characters and I’m so glad she stays in the entire series. The novel is centered on a romance, but it never felt too romance heavy. Karou and Zuzana had a great relationship and I loved watching their friendship grow and the way they supported each other.
The reason this one gets 4 stars instead of 5 though is because I didn’t think the second half of the novel was a strong as the first. I know Madrigal and Akiva’s story is central to the series, but the change in the storytelling felt very abrupt. I found Karou’s errands for Brimstone fascinating, as well as the whole concept of trading in wishes. I was captivated with the mystery of the teeth and where the scorched hand-prints were coming from. Once Akiva entered the story I found the pacing a little off and I didn’t like having to put aside Karou’s story to learn about Madrigal.
I still really enjoyed Madrigal’s story, but I wish it had been better integrated in the story. I felt like Taylor was taking a break from the main plot to tell us this side story, but then the side story ended up being the entire second half of the novel.
Despite this shortcoming, it was still a fantastic novel and I will definitely be reading more of Taylor’s work! A+ for setting and relationship building!