Daughter of Smoke & Bone - Laini Taylor [Daughter of Smoke and Bone]
Originally Reviewed on Goodreads: March 26, 2014
I like to read. A lot. Typically when I read a book by a new author, if I find I enjoy it, I'll set it aside and come back to it later, read it again, and think about whether or not I'll pursue additional works by the same author.
That is NOT the case here. Laini Taylor has captured my imagination with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The end is merely alluded to in the title, not to be understood until you manage to make it all the way through to the end. And what an amazing end it was.
I had my doubts early on. Karou talking about her drawings of Brimstone and the others made me think of something more along the lines of comic book characters. When the narrative went into conversations she had with these creatures, I raised my eyebrow and wondered what I had gotten myself into. And, wishes? Simple, silly wishes based off of a bead?
Then we actually get to MEET Brimstone, and the entire dynamic changes. We hear more about the other kinds of wishes, and his job of collecting teeth, we see the relationship that Karou has with the chimaera inhabiting the shop. We start getting glimpses hear and there into Karou, her life, and her "job". The split life of someone who works for creatures who don't dare show their faces outside the shop on one side, and who attends an arts school who has friends and relationships on the other side.
Of the chimaera who are merely shopkeepers and caregivers in need of teeth to carry out some unknown purpose on one side, and highly valuable members of an entire race of beings on the other side.
The intricacies of these relationships are handled very well. I was pleased with the continuity, the flow of the story and of the writing. It moved at a very good pace to keep me engaged without being overwhelmed or bored.
Then the angel appeared. It was as if from that point on, the entire story became one gigantic whirlwind of "WTF?!" - which was appropriate considering, had this all been real, Karou's life probably would be about there as well.
The ending revelation wasn't as big of a surprise as I'd hoped, and it was there that I started feeling things got a little too drawn out - a little too... cookie-cutter. From that point on until the end, everything pretty much went as expected, which was a sad turn from earlier.
No matter how you look at it, though, Taylor spins a good story. My imagination was thoroughly engaged, visualizing these characters with all these different features, the remarkable dress of Karou's, the whole idea of... well, I won't spoil that for you. It's one of the biggest curiosities of Karou's throughout the book, and now I can certainly understand why. I thought it was pretty brilliant, myself.
If you're looking for the next great thing in fantasy set in modern times, this is a book you definitely need to add to your collection.