YA/Young Adult Novel “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor: a Review

I just started reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor last week, due mainly to the glowing review it received in Entertainment weekly. I have to say, it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It has enough teen romance (will they or won’t they/does he like me as much as I like him/has he stopped liking me?) to satisfy the legions of Twilight fans, while at the same time being a much better book.

It is the story of Karou, a young art student in Prague who has been raised by some sort of demon-like creatures called Chimaera (chimera: a hybrid of two or more creatures, such as a griffon or sphinx), and her journeys in the real, physical world of Earth and her time spent in the Elseworld where the Chimaera live. Her life is a mystery, even to her, as she doesn’t know where she came from. Her guardian and protector, Brimstone, sends her on errands all around the world to collect teeth, and although she doesn’t understand the reason he needs so many teeth, she knows that he works some sort of magic with them. In fact, she keeps a steady supply of physical “wishes” on her at all time that allow her to do things like wish her hair into a bright blue color, or even—if she could only manage to get hold of a powerful enough wish—to give herself the power of flight.

Things go awry when she happens to run into a beautiful male angel while she is on one of her teeth-gathering expeditions, and she is shocked when the angel attacks her, since she has no idea of the deep history between her friends the Chimaera and the Seraph (angels), who have been at war for centuries. Luckily, Brimstone has had her educated in many forms of offensive and defensive hand-to-hand combat, so she survives the attack, but she finds herself haunted by the questions of who the devastatingly handsome angel was, and why he attacked her on sight…and also why he stopped at the last minute, just when he was poised to kill her.

The mythos of the worlds created by Laini Taylor far surpasses the level of writing that is popular in most young adult books these days, and I would say that this book, while perhaps not thematically the best fit for adult audiences, is at least well enough written and realized that it should appeal to both adults and teens. Personally, I’m loving it. I’m currently about 80% of the way through the book, but it’s one of the rare books that I wish wouldn’t end. I’m already hoping for a sequel!

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