Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Book Review // Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor has the most beautiful ability to shape worlds from words. It was her world and her words in Daughter of Smoke and Bone that had me instantly captured, and wondering this: how can one mind create such curious beauty?

The story begins with Karou, an art student with hair that grows naturally from her head in a gem-stone blue, and who was raised by creatures any ordinary person would consider monsters. But to Karou, these monsters are family. They adopted and raised her as their own in an in-between world known only as Elsewhere, sending her on mysterious errands through portals that take her across the world. Of these monsters, one deals in wishes, shaped like beads that are held in teacups, and the only payment he recieves for them is teeth.

There are so many unique quirks that utterly whisked me away into Karou's peculiar world. It was so individual, with a concept so vivid and stunning settings such as the streets of Prague that I haven't seen explored in anything I've read before. I loved this strange family and Karou's struggle to balance her two lives, and how she still manages to maintain both, including her friendship with Zuzana, who is human but was as wonderful as any of the characters of Elsewhere.

I was in love with this book, that is, until it became a love story.

At about the 40% mark, the story ceased to explore Karou's lives and began to focus on her connection to Akiva. Who I did not care an ounce for. Their attraction is sudden and undeniable, but for all the focus Akiva stole from the world and strange family aspect I fell in love with, he had little personality for me to connect to. A typical wounded and angsty male lead, whose mutual attraction with Karou felt entirely physical.

The beautiful writing persisted, but that magic and simple elegance of the concepts present in the start of the story never returned. And it broke my heart. Because what was a 5 star read dropped to a more underwhelming 3.

There is a reason for this instant attraction that is explored, and the history behind this otherworld was interesting, but it didn't feel new like the first 40% did. I predicted the big twist, and the story took a direction that I couldn't say I cared for too much. I wanted a physical journey, or a more world-centred family mystery, instead of the romantic storyline I was given. I expected one thing from the story, and recieved another, which is really a fault in my own tastes as romance storylines very often don't work for me.

Depsite my shift in feelings, I still crave more of Taylor's words, although perhaps not from this series. I can see this story going down a path that I've seen many fantasy novels take, and I'm not entirely sure I will continue to be invested in it, despite my initial love for it.

3 stars

YA Fantasy (First Book in Trilogy)

stalking, violence, death, decapitation


  1. Aw, sorry that you were left disappointed! I was mystified all throughout this novel, and I LOVED the writing so much, it's so immersive, if you just read one page it seems to just drag you back as if under a spell. Thanks for the honest words! I implore you to read on anyway!

    Cass @ Words on Paper

    1. I totally agree with you about the writing! It's so magical and immersive and just an all around beautifully written book. But I'm not really big on romance stories and I couldn't really connect to this one. I actually got through almost half of the second book in this series but I ended up putting it down because it wasn't really my thing. But I'm definitely going to read Strange the Dreamer because I want to read more of Laini Taylor's stuff if they're all so wonderfully written. Also I've heard excellent things. Thanks!