Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (2011. 432 pages. YA)
It’s been awhile since a book has cast such a gripping spell on me, but this one managed it (and then some).
Daughter of Smoke and Bone tells the story of Karou, a girl with a mysterious past who lives among hideous monsters who — on the inside — are anything but. Karou’s life is unusual, sure, but through her art and her tentative friendships, she has found a way to live with one foot in the magical world she shares with tooth-collecting demons and another in the mundane (but never boring) world of modern day Prague. That is, until a cruel avenging angel steps through a tear in the sky and rains fire and vengeance down on everything Karou knows and loves. Oh, and he’s her soul mate.
The tag line for this book states: An angel and a demon fell in love. It did not end well.
True, but…as always, the journey is the thing.
Karou is a wonderful protagonist and Taylor has struck a great balance between Karou’s relatable teenage angst and her sheer ass-kicking awesomeness. The book is ultimately about Karou discovering who she is and where she’s from, but its sweep takes in eons of history, a grand theological struggle between two races who each see the other as evil incarnate, and a story of love that defies both time and logic. It’s completely awesome.
Best of all, Laini Taylor knows her way around the written word. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is lyrically written, lushly described, and a pleasure to read. My only complaint? It ends on something of a cliffhanger, leaving the wait for a sequel long and bitter indeed.
This book has been nominated for a Nebula Award and, in my opinion, it is well-deserving of the honor.