Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | Book Review


UK Hardback Cover 2011

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.”

Cliché much? Never fear because this book is something else and so much more. In this fantasy fiction, recently named by Amazon UK as the #1 Young Adult Book of 2012, Laini Taylor grabbed the characters of mythology and religion and took them for a spin. And maybe some cartwheels, prances, and happy dances too.

Teenage girl Karou has been threading between the modern world and ‘Elsewhere’ all her life. She’s equipped with wish beads and coins though, so that’s pretty cool. Somehow, she finds the balance and sanity in being raised by magical chimaeras in the completely mundane, yet beautiful, Prague. Well, only until Akiva, also known as her love-interest-slash-mortal-nemesis-of-her-family, shows his gorgeous face. Karou suddenly found herself also trapped between an ongoing war of two ancient races, the Chimaeras and the Seraphims.

This novel is so great in many aspects. For example, the love story might make you want to pull at your hair and scratch your eyeballs out a little bit as it transcends races, wars, dimension and even lifetimes. Even the chronology is amazingly done that you’d grip the pages and not be able to put the book down. At times, the writing is almost lyrical and simply wonderful to read. Not only that, the richness of art, culture, value, romance,and imagination in the book evidently proves that it must be wonderful to live in the author’s head. (I for one would like a tour!)

Although it is a fantasy, Laini Taylor attempts to tackle real social issues using the war. It is not the traditional binary opposition of good and evil. Oh no! It’s more grey and blurry than that.( It’s surely a headache to decide which side you are on or if you should even have one.) Moreover, it takes a different perspective when looking at the war. Instead of trying to identify which is right or wrong, it begs the question whether the aims of the battling parties are still worth the lives and destructions the war leaves in its wake. Is it still a battle for causes and survival? Or is it just a war because all that is known to them is to fight each other? It challenges the reader to use this perspective in real life… maybe we should.

With its profound values and magnificent literature, Daughter of Smoke and Bone will surely take you elsewhere.

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