Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor – Review/Discussion

Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: September 27th, 2011
Pages: 422

There is so much hype surrounding this book, and I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it. Well…the hype is real guys, the hype is real! Let’s get into it.

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 grows dangerously low.

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

Check out the full synopsis on GoodReads here.

I picked this book up randomly. I needed a book to read on my phone. I was planning on going to a concert after work, so I didn’t want to lug a book around with me. I saw that this was “Available Now!” on my library’s online book collection. It is the first book in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone Series. There have been so many people raving about this book series on BookTube and I thought I would give it a shot.

There was a lot of hype surrounding it and hype has not always served me well. To be honest, I was not sure how I would feel about it. I went into the book pretty blind. The only thing I really knew was that it was a magical realism book. Upon reading the first chapter, I knew I was in for a treat.

There is something about Karou’s voice that brings you into the story. Karou is our main character and she’s funny, tough, quirky, an artist, and there is a lot of mystery surrounding her. She is an orphan and isn’t quite sure where she comes from. Yes, she’s a little naive at times, but it’s hard not to like her. She draws you in and then the world/story Taylor creates keeps you interested.

One thing I really loved about this book was how it constantly kept me on my toes. At first you think the story is going to go one way, but it fakes you out and takes you on another path. I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting endings so it was really nice to be completely surprised by the plot. Part of the reason she succeeds so well at this is the structure of the book (which will be discussed more in detail in the spoiler section).

It’s hard not to talk about the characters and the world when talking about this book. It is clear from Taylor’s writing that she has fully fleshed out her characters because they read so well. There is something distinct about each of them and it is so easy to picture them. The world is similarly fleshed out and so interesting. Due to the way the book is structured, the world gets revealed to you piece by piece. It’s so clever because by the end we know a lot but not everything so you need the next book.

The only thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the instalove. Usually, it doesn’t bother me. It was just weird here and it took me a while to get on board with the romance. By the end it makes more sense and I know I will be more on board with it in the next book. It just was introduced in a strange way.

The instalove aside, I really loved this book. The characters were so engaging, the world was so cool, and the plot consistently kept me on my feet. All things that I want in a good book. You can bet I will be reading the sequel sooner rather than later. (Seriously, need to know what happens next!)

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Please do not continue reading unless you have read the book.
You have been warned.

There are a few things I want to talk about in this section of my review/discussion. First and foremost, we need to talk structure.

I totally was not expecting for most of the second half of the book to be complete flashback. When I got close to the halfway point, I honestly thought the book was going to take us off to find Brimstone and we’d get more adventure. Then that didn’t happen. Instead we got some character development and flashbacks. Taylor did an excellent job at handling the flashback sequences. I really liked how once Akiva and Karou break the wishbone, the story immediately changes and we learn of Madrigal’s full story (and that Karou is Madrigal). It didn’t feel like the story slowed down, more that we were enlightened with Karou.

I felt it worked so well because we get the chimera perspective which we so desperately needed. It’s hard to think of Brimstone as evil even when Akiva describes him as the devil. It also gave us much needed information on this war and Eretz (the chimera world). I also loved seeing the romance between Akiva and Madrigal in more detail. It explains Karou and Akiva’s connection with each other. Also, it clears up their relationship. Honestly, I was positive that Karou was the love child between Akiva and Madrigal for a while. Hence my weird feelings on her deep romantic and sudden love for him. The book is called Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I just assumed okay!

The scene where Madrigal is executed was horrifying. Her thoughts post decapitation were interesting, yet sad and creepy at the same time. I’ve never read a scene like that before. Hats off to Taylor for crafting such a moving scene.

Also can we talk about that ending? I thought we would get more on what’s happening over in Eretz. Karou’s chimera family cannot be dead either or at least I hope they are not. I want more of them. From a structural point of view I thought it was a good place to leave off. From a reader’s perspective I’m just upset because I need more story.

While I’m excited to learn more about the world Taylor has created, I really hope we don’t lose the characters from Karou’s human life. Zuzana, for instance, needs to have some sort of role. She was probably my favorite character in the book and I don’t want her to disappear completely from the story even though we’ve switched worlds. Needless to say, I will be getting my hands on a copy of the sequel, Days of Blood & Starlight, asap!

What did you think of Daughter of Smoke & Bone? Would love to hear your thoughts on this book! Let’s chat in comments down below.

4 thoughts on “Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor – Review/Discussion

  1. I read the first book so long ago, and I remember loving it. (I was upset about the end though, the whole thing. Brimstone and where Karou and Akiva left off.) I tried to start the second book, but I think at the time it was just too intense for me. I never went back, sadly.

    Glad you liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] There were so many unique things about this book. The characters, the setting (s), the fantasy element, the structure of the story, and more. It is an urban fantasy that takes you places you least expect. I had no idea where this book was going and I liked it. I really need to pick up the second book sooner rather than later, because I had all of the feels after finishing it. To hear some of my more in-depth thoughts on this book, you can check out my review here. […]


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