Friday, November 4, 2011

BR: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

by Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone series; book I

Since I’ve gotten into a habit of reading a book then waiting ages before thinking “hey, maybe I should probably review this, it might be a good idea” but then realize I don’t really remember anything about the book… here’s a review fresh off the press.

Summary (goodreads)

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 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?

My Expectations: extremely high, I mean, have you seen the buzz?!?
Delivery: I really wish I liked it more, but it felt like just another paranormal
Put-down-ability: very low at the beginning, very high about 2/3rds of the way through. 5/10

My Thoughts

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was seriously one of the hottest titles around the blogosphere for a while, and this is coming from a girl who’s been primarily absent from the blogosphere for 2 months. I’ve read an abundance of absolutely rave reviews, and despite some trepidation with the paranormal genre, I went into this expecting to fully love it.

Honestly, I probably shouldn’t have had such extreme expectations, because it’s not the first time that it has worked against my favour. I was disappointed because I didn’t love it as much I expected to (partly my fault), and I’ll say it’s a good book with parts I disliked as opposed to a bad book with good moments.

Let’s start with the writing, which I’m sure everyone has already mentioned, is just lovely. It’s graceful and lyrical with some impressive (and maybe some overdone) metaphors that just made the book richer. I thought that the blend of realism, and then the progression towards a more fantastical premise was done really well.

One thing I noticed right away and disliked every time it appeared was that Taylor seemed to dedicate a paragraph to describing the looks of a character. I dunno, maybe I would have liked more subtle introduction to the characters’ physical aspects, but it felt like I was reading along and a concrete wall would come up and describe how omg-beautiful-with-perfect-body-measurements-and-eye-colour the character was, then the story would carry on. This seems like an odd part to point out in a review that should be more about the book but eh, I guess I’m out of practice.

Ooh, but can we comment on the premise? I have to say, at the beginning I thought it was one of the most creative and unique things with the chimaeras and the whole errands/teeth business that was just the perfect mix of mysterious and off-putting. However, I’ll admit as the story progressed and more paranormal twist was added, it was just about average, I thought it had so much potential at the beginning, which might have added to my disappointment. I want to say that looking back at it though, the mythology/premise is actually really interesting (I think I was more bothered by the pacing when I was reading it).

Next up: the characters! I liked Karou’s character the most because she had the most depth and I enjoyed reading about her inner turmoil and questions about who she is. However, I can’t say the same for the Akiva, he just fell into the perfect-and-more-perfect mold. Sure, he has a past (who doesn’t?) but I didn’t really connect with his character.


..who prefers romances to actually be developed instead of based on the insta-attraction-stalker-spark? Me. I still don't get why Karou liked Akiva so much...

***end spoiler***

Favourite character though? Brimstone, that guy is badass.

The pacing was something I also have issues with, and at risk of giving anything away, I’ll just say the I really liked the beginning half because it felt like the drama was just crescendo-ing, secrets were being revealed, lots of action, and I was looking forward to a killer climax. Then there were a lot of… non-action/backstory… and when I say a lot, I mean, a LOT that it felt the whole story’s flow just came to a screeching halt until the last 5 pages. And then cliffie! And I’ll be weird and say that was an awesome cliffie and just might make me continue this series. I want to say more about the ‘plot twist’ but I can’t because it’s too spoilery :p

But when it comes down to it, I just don’t think this is my type of book. I’m really particular about my tastes, and it feels like this book was just trying to do too much in terms of ‘epic romances’ and I just never really liked Epic Romances*. It’s just a personal preference, which is why I’m totally acknowledging that this book will be a favourite for many, just not for me.

Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
Recommended for: paranormal fans
Acknowledgements: forgot to read :/

7.5/10 – because it’s one of those books where I just couldn’t fall in love with. There were moments I liked and parts I appreciated, but as a whole, it just feels like another read that won’t stand out to me in a few months. The writing is great, but I thought just plot-wise, it wasn’t for me. However, don’t just take my word for it, I think you should definitely read it for yourself!

*which is why I seem to love the contemporary genre so much…

source: bookstore
author website / twitter 
series website


  1. Ahh reminded me of our convo. Yay for you posting it. It started strong, but it went downhill when it took another direction in the second half. You seem to like it a little more than me, but overall your thoughts pretty much mirrored mine. Lovely review as always hun :)

  2. Hm, that's definitely a bummer. I'm still going to be checking it out when I have time, but I'm trying really hard to tweak my expectations.

  3. I loved the first half, when it was all mystery and awesome settings and intrigue. I did not like the second half. It was all boring backstory, and I found nothing interesting about Akiva or his history.

  4. Aw it's a shame you didn't like this one. I've seen all the rave reviews too and thought I should check this one out. I'm not a fan of angel books but from all the hype I thought I might like this one (it's an angel book, right?) Now I'm not so sure. Great review, Audrey!

  5. Boooo downhillness. :( All my writer friends were totally raving about it, but all my book blogger friends aren't. We'll see...

    (But I'm thinking perfect Akiva may just kill all my hypothetical good feelings. LOL.)

  6. I was looking forward to reading this one, too, even though I'm not that into paranormal- I prefer contemporary.

    But I'm still going to read it, even though that whole 'epic romance' stuff sounds a little meh.

  7. Aw sorry you didn't like it. I am still excited about it, I'm saving it for my reward for finishing NaNoWriMo. I did enjoy your review though and thanks for marking the spoliery bit, i skipped over it :)

  8. hey! its penelope (met u at the blog meet today :D)
    im following u now!!

  9. So I pretty much completely agree with you. I loved Karou and Brimstone and the whole setting and concept at the beginning were pretty fabulous. And the writing? Pretty epicly (epically?) amazing. Butttt yah it just kind of went into typical paranormal territory about half way through, and the flashbacks killed me with how long they were.

  10. I'm sorry that this fabtastic book wasn't for you, Audrey. I loved it and it has been a long while since I have been able to forgive a insta-love connection but in this one I could :)

  11. Yay! I am so glad I am not the only person who was disappointed with this. I definitely agree with Akiva. For some reason I could just not connect with him, and most of the time I really did not even like him.
    I did adore Brimstone. The relationship between him & Karou was easily my favorite element of the story. <3

  12. Oy! I'm pretty sure that this is the only review I've seen that wasn't LOVELOVELOVE. I also had really high hopes for it, but considering how eerily similar our reading tastes are, I'm a little nervous now. Perhaps if I just lower my expectations a bit I'll like it more than you did... :P

  13. Yeah I'm extremely late on commenting on this but I knew I wanted to know how you felt about this book. I agree what you said about Epic Romances, but for me, this one worked a lot more for me than others.

    On a side note, I think that I would probably classify this one more as fantasy than paranormal, but that can be debated.

  14. Daughter of Smoke and Bone" has many sub-themes that make it the phenomenal read that it is. The author has captured the beauty of ancient Prague and made it her own.What she writes, the reader will believe for her characters are authentic. When Karou and Zuzanna eat goulash at their favorite place, The Poison Kitchen, they take the reader with them.When Karou brings back from Paris a famous antique tuto for Zuzanna,the reader will follow along eagerly. When Karou falls in love with Akiva, the reader will follow eagerly and sigh, knowing their love won't be easy. "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" is a fantasy novel that readers will remember for a very long time.


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