In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
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?”
Thanks to Janice, who is wonderful and took pity on me after I expressed my undying fangirl love for Laini Taylor, I had an arc of Daughter of Smoke and Bone in my greedy hands months ago. In an uncharacteristic display of bookish willpower, I didn’t read it. Posting a review that far in advance didn’t sit right with me, and I wanted whatever I said to carry the urgency of adoration that I would undoubtedly feel for it. But now, looking down the barrel of the book’s release date, I can finally express a smidge of the love I harbor for Laini Taylor’s writing and, specifically, the writing that throbbed and pulsed with life and gobsmacking beauty on the pages of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Just know that whatever I say about this book, it will not be enough.
To my mind, Laini Taylor is one of the best, most brilliant writers writing YA fantasy today. There are very few who can match her imagination and execution of ideas – the only other, in fact, that immediately leaps to mind is Catherynne Valente, whose Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making thoroughly undid me in magnificent ways earlier this year. Realize I put forth that statement knowing that I’ll need to support it; knowing that trying to do so will be…daunting. My response to her work is specific to me, to who I am, and what I crave. It’s like I’m a well; each word Taylor writes is a drop of water that ripples out from my mind to my heart, settling in the deep down place that nurtures my daydreams and hopes and wishes. And it has been like that with each book of hers I’ve read, and I’ve read them all, including The Drowned, the graphic novel she collaborated on with her husband, Jim Di Bartolo. I have a personal and emotional relationship with her stories, and how, please tell me how, you can look at anything like that objectively and say here, this is why.
Perhaps the best way to start is to say that, without fail, I end up wanting to crawl inside Laini Taylor’s books, to take up residence beside her characters. That, to me, is a mark of excellent world-building. If she wanted to, Taylor could go on for paragraphs and pages, doling out the tiniest details, and I would be captivated. Her writing is evocative and visual and engages all of the senses. She takes intricately hewn bricks and brightly colored mortar and builds something special. That I take note of how things tick, the setting, and all the little bits and bobs is a testament to how well she crafts them. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is no exception.
And then there are her characters. I fell hard for Talon, one of many spectacular characters in Taylor’s Dreamdark books, and now Akiva has me ensnared. A taste (one that may change upon final publication):
“…he looked at her. Just looked. 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, and facing him, Karou was jolted into the hum of blood and magic, and something else.”
Taylor’s characters – all of them, but especially her female characters – have an underlying core of strength, a self-assuredness that makes them infinitely appealing and more than a little intriguing. Karou is fully capable of taking care of herself, she’s smart and artistic, but she’s not unafraid. She knows what it’s like to feel vulnerable. And that, despite the whimsy of her blue hair and the surreal aspect of her childhood, makes her deeply real. Add a charming, offbeat best friend (whose nature is every bit as indomitable as Karou’s, and who is just as happy and secure in her own skin) to the mix, and you’ve got a winning combination.
There is so much I could say about this book. And I would. If I had any idea how to do so. In the end, I’ll just urge you to give her work a try, be it Daughter of Smoke and Bone or one of her Dreamdark novels. You won’t be sorry you did.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone will be released on September 27th.