Published by Hodder Paperback on August 5th 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Love & Romance, Young Adult
"Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things.When Brimstone called, she always came."
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.
When I read it…
I read this over a couple of days, between January 12th and 16th 2016.
What I’d heard before I read it:
So many things! I’ve seen a lot of love for Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Rinn and Micheline both loved it, and our tastes tend to overlap pretty well so that’s always tempting). My mum also loved it in real life, and it’s been on my TBR list since July 2012! I finally picked it up now because it was the winner of the January TBR list vote.
Despite hearing such great things, for some reason, I’ve always been a bit hesitant about Daughter of Smoke and Bone – I think I’d heard so much about the beautiful writing, that I was worried the book was going to be a bit too… artsy for me, that the poetic prose would overshadow the fantasy elements which were what I was actually excited about. So, after having this book on my shelf for more than three years, I went in with somewhat mixed feelings!
“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
What worked for me:
- The characters: I liked Karou – she’s mysterious, interesting and talented, but also insecure and relatable, and that made it impossible for me to dislike her. But while I liked Karou, I LOVED Zuzana, her fiesty, kick-ass, tiny best friend, and the banter between the two of them. I adored Brimstone, the mysterious teeth-collecting demon who sends Karou on missions without ever telling her why. I found Issa adorable, so warm and comforting, the sort of mother-figure in Karou’s life.
- The world-building: Karou’s Prague, Brimstone’s shop, the market in Morocco – everywhere the story went, it felt like I went. Every setting came alive around me as I read, and I was absolutely hooked on Karou’s world from page one.
- The writing: It’s impossible to deny that Taylor’s writing is stunning. If I’d been reading this on my kindle, instead of in paperback, I know there would have been highlights everywhere. There were funny quotes, romantic quotes, beautifully-written descriptive quotes… The prose is beautiful and poetic and the whole story is wonderfully evocative and atmospheric. Karou’s world came alive around me as I read, and
“Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort. It was all those things, intertwined with the heat and the thrill, and it was as bright within her as a swallowed star.”
What didn’t quite work for me:
- The romance: I’m not a huge romance fan (excluding my guilty pleasure of reading erotic romance but that’s a whole other story), and I did feel that the romance in this was a bit too rapid, and a bit too perfect, for me. I liked Akiva, and the romance was definitely not a deal-breaker for me, it
I think Hannah’s review and her opinion that the book is almost three parts is absolutely spot on. Like Hannah, I felt that the middle section – which focused heavily on the romance – was the weakest. Despite that, I enjoyed the first section (which was my favourite), and the last, enough to balance it out. I didn’t dislike the romance, but I did feel it dampened the uniqueness of the book, which otherwise was completely different from anything else I’d read. I debated back and forth between a four and a five star rating, but I eventually decided on a five, because I really did love the story, the world-building, the writing, and can’t wait to read the rest of the series.