Thursday, 5 April 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Release Date: September 27th, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Pages: 432
Buy The Book: Amazon

"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 one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored 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?"

I had never heard of Laini Taylor's past work, and I seem to have stumbled across this book entirely by accident, but it is a beautiful book. It's one of the first books I've read on my new Kindle and I've enjoyed playing around with the 'highlights' feature - there are so many gorgeous phrases and passages I wanted to remember from this book, it seemed I was highlighting every page.

The first half of the story is set mainly in Prague; a gothic, romantic setting for a book like this, with talk of angels impaling themselves on the Czech church spires as they fall from heaven. The setting is wonderfully imaginative and a perfect launchpad for the dark and mythical goings-on that take place. I like books which take common folklore or myth and flip it on its head; too often you read stories about good girls who fall for bad boys, princesses who fall for stable boys etc. And too often there are definite lines drawn, so that readers know who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. This book has no lines whatsoever; you're not sure who to sympathise with, you're not sure which side you're on. It's intriguing.

For the last quarter of the book, the story switches into flashback mode and, as a reader, at this point I became much more aware of the scope and scale of what Laini Taylor is trying to do. The story stops being one girl's search for her identity and starts to become an all-out fight for revolution and peace between two races as old as the earth. And isn't that what we like our fantasy fiction to be?!

Lovers of fantasy fiction shouldn't need any persuasion to read this book. It's really quite astonishing in parts. But just in case you need a little push in the right direction, here is one of my favourite passages; a description of Akiva the angel.

"His gaze was heat across her cheeks, her lips. It was touch. His eyes were hypnotic, his brows black and velvet. He was copper and shadow, honey and menace, the severity of knife-blade cheekbones and a widow's peak like the point of a dagger. All that and the muted snap of invisible fire..."

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