Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance, YA Fiction
Rating: 4 (almost a 5) Stars
Description/Synopsis: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
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?
WARNING - SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT - REVIEW BELOW
So, first thing's first, I'm going to put forward the negatives of this story, or rather, what made me give this a 4-star rating rather than a 5 star. First off, going into it I found the writing a bit flowery. You get used to it fairly quickly, but there does seem to be a bit of needless description all throughout the book that's there sole for the purpose of coloring the narrative. It's not horribly obtrusive, but it did catch my eye in the beginning.
Second, for me at least, the book did drag in the second half. There was a lot of backstory and flashbacks involved that I didn't find nearly as entertaining as the rest of the story. I believe that a good part of this may be attributed to the character we're following around: Madrigal, who is part beast. I don't know what it is about having a character that's not at least mostly human looking that bothers me. Watching her romance with Akiva set me on edge. I guess I can call it the "human-factor". I want my romance couples to at the very least, have a mostly human appearance.. when you start swaying into animal faces, I start to get a bit uncomfortable. (Shapeshifters are fine, people with one animal feature... like wings, or a tail, or cat ears, etc don't bother me..but leave the face alone.) It's like watching a handsome guy make out with a goat. Creepy.
That being said, I did actually really like the book as a whole. The lore in this book and world-building is absolutely fantastic. The plot is complicated and incredibly engaging. The characters, for the most part, were interesting, but I will admit some of them were a little 2-dimensional. Though I really like Karou for the most part, and I LOVED Brimstone, a lot of the other chimera characters, and all of the angels lacked any real substance. Many of them seemed to be present in the story only to make sure the plot was still moving and not to provide any real contribution. Even Akiva, the main male lead was rather single-minded throughout the story. There wasn't a whole lot of depth to his character as far as I could tell.
I think a lot of what I liked about this book was wrapped up in Karou and Brimstone's relationship. They have this sort of standoffish love/hate thing going on that is so deep and beautiful - you can't help but love these two tragic characters (even if that means I have to love Madrigal too). Overall, I really enjoyed the book and I'm looking forward to reading the others in the series. It WAS a really great read - but there were some parts that I found sub-par. I'd still recommend it to anyone who wants an intriguing fantasy read. Brimstone has become my favorite secondary character of all time now. If nothing else, read it for him.