Sunday, April 15, 2012

REVIEW: Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Taylor, L.  (2011).  Daughter of Smoke & Bone.  New York:  Little, Brown and Company.

418 pages.

Appetizer:  Karou is not like the other girls who live and go to her art school in Prague.  Her ultramarine hair is its natural color since she wished it that way.  She's had some tattoos for as long as she can remember.  She lives alone in her beautiful flat.  And when summoned by a bat-bird creature, she does errands all around the world for the demons who have watched over her for as long as she can remember.

Karou travels from place to place through a network of doors that always open into her guardian, Brimstone's, store where he sells wishes for extracted teeth.  Karou's biggest fear is that, someday, when she knocks, nobody in the magical realm of the demons will answer and she will be stranded in a strange city, penniless.

When Karou begins to notice handprints burned onto some of the entryways that the demons use, she discovers that the angels may be planning a strike against them.  And Karou will be stuck in the middle with one angel in particular fixated on her.

I had heard rave reviews of Daughter of Smoke & Bone as well as Laini Taylor's other book, Lips Touch.  I had been meaning to get around to reading both of them for a while now.  And I'm glad I finally did!

Taylor's writing is beautiful.  I mean it.  This is an author who knows how to use words to affect emotion in her readers.  Arguably, there were sections of Daughter of Smoke and Bone that fascinated me less than the rest, but Taylor's prose were beautiful enough to keep me reading and engaged.

From it's first few pages, Daughter of Smoke and Bone drew me in with Taylor's accessible and beautiful prose style and Karou's emotional turmoil with her ex-boyfriend.  Taylor does an amazing job of describing the setting and setting up a tone that was haunting and dark, but that also had a touch of humor.

Read it.  Or else....

Dinner Conversation:

"Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.  It seemed like just another Monday, innocent but for its essential Mondayness, not to mention its Januaryness.  It was cold, and it was dark--in the dead of winter the sun didn't rise until eight--but it was also lovely.  The falling snow and the early hour conspired to paint Prague ghostly, like a tintype photograph, all silver and haze."  (p. 1)

"It wasn't like in the storybooks.  No witches lurked at crossroads disguised as crones, waiting to reward travelers who shared their bread.  Genies didn't burst from lamps, and talking fish didn't bargain for their lives.  In all the world, there was only one place humans could get wishes:  Brimstone's shop.  And there was only one currency he accepted.  IT wasn't gold, or riddles, or kindness, or any other fairy-tale nonsense, and no, it wasn't souls, either.  It was weirder than any of that.
It was teeth." (p. 33)

"Sometimes, maybe most of the time, she forgot to see Brimstone.  He was so familiar that when she looked at him she saw not a beast but the creature, who for reasons unknown, had raised her from a baby, and not without tenderness.  But he could still strike her speechless at times, such as when he used that tone of voice.  It slithered like a hiss to the core of her consciousness and opened her eyes to the full, fearsome truth of him.
Brimstone was a monster.
If he and Issa, Twiga, and Yasri were to stray from the shop, that's what humans would call them:  monsters.  Demons, maybe, or devils.  They called themselves chimaera."  (p. 38-39).

"She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil's lair.  She wasn't innocent now, but she didn't know what to do about it.  This was her life:  magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing." (p. 45)

"In general, Karou managed to keep her two lives in balance.  On the one hand,she was a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand girl to an inhuman creature who was the closest thing she had to family.  For the most part, she'd found that there was time enough in a week for both lives.  If not every week, at least most.
This did not turn out to be one of those weeks." (p. 60)

Tasty Rating:  !!!!!

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