About a week ago, I finished this book:
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. It’s fantasy, but think more Percy Jackson than Game of Thrones. Not in quality, mind you. This book is good. Very good. A Solid “8” on the 1 to Harry Potter scale.
I just don’t want you to think that this book is all unicorns and dragons and set in Another Place. For the most, it’s very firmly Here, although “here” is Prague rather than the US, and the magic sort of creeps in when you aren’t looking.
In DOSAB, this slow drift into the world of make-believe is done so very artfully. At first we are only hearing the story of a girl with blue hair and a super obnoxious ex-boyfriend. Interesting enough. Blue-haired people are almost always interesting. Oh, she’s an artist you say? And living in Prague? How nice. Wait. What do you mean “Not like other girls”? What do you mean, “tattoos on her hands”? Hamsas? What? DEMONS? Now there are demons involved? Did she create them? Did they just take her in? And what on earth are the teeth for??
Honest to goodness, that was my thought process reading the book.
A good author makes you question constantly as you read. A really good author forces you into exactly the right questions and then answers them just as you’re sure their going to drive you absolutely bonkers, and Laini Taylor seems to have mastered this. I spent most of the story trying to figure out the mysteries that were ahead while still being captivated by the story at hand.
It’s very firmly Young Adult fiction, told from the point of view of Karou, a teenage girl who has been raised in a mysterious tooth shop by demons; half human, half beast, these otherwise horrifying creatures are instilled with compassion, kindness and love. Karou spends her life running errands for Brimstone, a great ram-headed demon, and is constantly plagued by the question of her real identity. When she meets Akiva, a Seraph, it seems that he might hold the answers and, just maybe, the key to saving her family.
It is equal parts coming-of-age, identity and love story, but the story never feels fragmented or confused. Even the flashback scenes, which take up several chapters, never seem out of place or tedious (which, let’s be honest, flashback scenes can sometimes be.).
Not to mention, this story takes the whole idea of Angels and Demons and turns it all on its ear. Are demons really evil? Are Angels really a force for good? Is anything we think we know really true?
And seriously, what on EARTH are all the teeth for?