When it comes to Laini Taylor’s writing, I feel like you either like it a lot or you can’t stand it, and I’m happy to be part of the former, and that really determines how you feel about Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into with this book, since it came out so long ago (for YA standards), but I knew that since I enjoyed Strange the Dreamer so much that I should be relatively good with this one. I think what was so interesting about this was how it didn’t even feel like a story that came out 9 years ago and how Taylor writes in such a timeless manner. Sure, there are some speech patterns and comments about technology that can be seen as outdated but it never felt that way. I think because Taylor focuses so much on her world building that you’re able to forget how old this story is and how you’re more immersed in other worlds than you are of its modernity. I find Taylor to be such a fascinating writer, not quite flowery yet not too simple, and really knows how to craft and structure words in a way that can feel easy coming out of someone’s mouth and profound enough to cut you deep. I think if anyone else tried to tackle this story they would not be successful and Taylor really wrote something worthwhile here.
Honestly, I don’t have too much to say in this review because I enjoyed so much of the book that it’s hard to pinpoint the good and bad. I found the world building to be fascinating, I thought the characters were intriguing, the romance was heart wrenching and fulfilling, even if Taylor kind of goes from 0 to 100 where love is concerned, but you lose yourself in Karou and Akiva so much that it doesn’t even matter. There’s a common theme throughout the story of hope and pain, and I feel like both characters represent these ideas so well and show how the two emotions/ideas/themes have a commonality with each other and it’s often underestimated how much strength can be found behind them. I’m not smart enough to really explain or explore these two themes but so far, I’m liking how Taylor seems to be implanting them in the story and am intrigued to see where it goes next.
I think my only true complaint is that the structure wasn’t my absolute favourite thing. I think when it came to exploring Karou’s past life and that whole relationship with Akiva, I would’ve liked to see more of a section break for that history, rather than having their life in the present come back in for a chapter or so and then going back into the past. This isn’t something that would bother most people but I am very particular about things and it would’ve been better for my brain if there was a “here’s our whole past” section and then the next section deals with the fallout. It was a beautiful story, don’t get me wrong, but it needed a tad more structure to truly please me.
As I said, I enjoyed this far more than I expected to and part of me is glad for waiting until now to read it because I don’t think my tiny peanut brain would’ve had the capacity to understand and appreciate it back when I first bought it. The writing is gorgeous, the world building is great, the characters and plot are beyond intriguing, and I truly cannot wait to see where the rest of the series goes. I’m a little stressed but it feels like good stress this time.
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 grows 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 beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery 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?