Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.
Those are the opening lines to one of the best books to cross my radar in 2014. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is the first in a trilogy about a young girl named Karou who lives in Prague, has blue hair and tattoos, and happens to have been raised by monsters.
Okay, it’s a lot more than that. Karou lives with a group of monsters who send her out all over the world to collect teeth. Teeth? What for? Well, the audience doesn’t know until Karou knows. That, I think, was the best part of this story. Often times authors will throw hints and tips along the way for the conscious reader, but Daughter of Smoke and Bone has you tagging along with Karou as she goes to art class, battles with skeevy ex-boyfriends, and gets in a fight with an angel.
Oh yeah, there are angels, too. And they’re hellbent determined to destroy Karou’s life. One angel in particular, Akiva, has a peculiar fascination with Karou, because he feels like he has met her before. She feels the same way, but his presence is a danger to her and her monster family, so Karou will do anything to protect the ones she loves. And sometimes that comes at a cost.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a beautifully written adventure. There is a romantic undercurrent, but that does not take precedence over the main story, which I really enjoyed. In fact, it intertwines with the main plot to make both aspects of the story relevant to one another. The narrative flows very well, and the action is gripping and thrilling. Each of the character is memorable, from the big ones to the small (quite literally). And there’s humor! I’m tired of “gritty” or “realistic” fiction with absolutely no humor. Give me silly jokes, simple mistakes, and snapping wit. This book has that in abundance. Karou and Akiva are not perfect characters. They have their flaws, which is why the readers should be so drawn to them. They each have a dark or questionable past, which sometimes gets told and sometimes it doesn’t. The mythology behind the angels and monsters is told in such a way that there are still some mysteries, but there’s just enough information to get readers through the story. This book is an excellent foundation to what’s turning out to be a very interesting trilogy.
If you like angels, demons, goulash, and everything between, then Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a fantastic choice. The pacing of the story makes it a quick read, so it won’t feel like you’re slogging through a leatherbound tome. But be warned: you won’t be satisfied until you’ve read the other two books in this series.