July 28, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Laini Taylor
Book 1

Around the world, black hand prints 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 otherwordly 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?

I got this in the mail the other day and had to wait until I'd finished Lynn Kurland's The Mage's Daughter before diving in.  I actually started this book while waiting for an appointment and regretted that as I had to keep stopping.  Once I got home though, I sat my butt on the couch and didn't move until I'd finished the last page.

This was such a great book, but for a little while I was wondering whether I'd picked up an adult or young adult book.  I think this falls more under young adult fiction, but there was nothing childish about it.  This is the story of Karou, a young girl who seems be out of place in the world.  With one foot in the human world, the other set firmly in the supernatural, Karou walks a fine line, trying to fit in with her human friends while hiding her 'other' commitments.  Her family consists of creatures who appear fearsome, but have an underlying humanity that adds to the complexity of the story.  Not all creatures are entirely evil, and not all angels are completely good.  It is this intricacy that makes Daughter of Smoke and Bones one of the best YA books I've come across in recent years.

Our leading lady, Karou, is such a well rounded character and is so well written that I actually teared up in a few places.  She has her faults and her petty moments, just like anyone. Her relationships, both with her ex and Akiva, are very fiery.  Without giving anything away, she kicks arse well for a 17 year old.  It is with Akiva though that she truly seems to feel complete.  Their relationship  is all mysterious to start with, but as this seems to be the first in a trilogy I didn't expect it to explode and rush ahead at break-neck speed.

Based mainly in Prague, the world that Karou inhabits is brought to life by the author, and you can almost imagine her wandering through the old buildings, looking at the statues and the wonderful architecture of the city.

Now I will say that the ending of this book isn't totally unexpected, even as events build to the climax, but it does set up the next book beautifully.  Unfortunately for me, it's so well set up that I just want to get my hands on Days of Blood and Starlight right this second.  The style of writing and world building reminds me of Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches, so if you loved that book, then I'd recommend that you give this book a try.

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