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Daughter of Smoke and Bone

11 Sep

I’ve wanted to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor since it came out a year ago. But I didn’t. See, I prefer to read ebooks (fibromyalgia makes it hard to hold a bound book for a long time) but it was never available through my online library, and its price point on the Kindle Store was more than my (self-enforced) $9.99 limit. So I didn’t read it. But I wanted to. Oh, how I wanted to.

A this point, when writing this post, I went on a stream-of-consciousness rant about libraries, librarian stereotypes, and censorship. It had absolutely nothing to do with reviewing this book, so I cut it out. But I got myself all worked up about it, and wanted to vent somewhere, so you can find it over at What You Don’t.

Any-whoodle-doodle-poodle, back to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It was a breakout hit of 2011, had amazing reviews, sparked my interest, and I kept wanting to read it. I was looking for a book recently and saw that DoSaB was priced at $9.99 in the Kindle Store. SOLD. And then I read it in less than two days.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the story of Karou, a young girl with blue hair and a bunch of tattoos (including Hamsas on her palms) that lives in Prague and goes to an art school. Her sketchbooks are famous around school for her drawings of fantastical characters, all of which have elaborate backstories, that are part human-part animal-part three other animals. They’re Chimera, and while Karou tells stories about them  with a smirk, making her audience think she’s just imaginative, these characters are completely real. See, Karou isn’t exactly from this world. She grew up in a workshop run by Brimstone, a ram-man Chimera that collects teeth. The teeth are given to him in exchange for wishes, and it is Karou’s job to go out into the real-world and collect teeth for her guardian. The workshop is magical, and is accessed by a regular door in Prague, but that same door can lead anywhere. So Karou might enter the workshop from a street in Prague, but leave through the same door and end up in Paris. Brimstone gives Karou small wishes to play with, which is how her hair grows out of her head blue, and how she made a slutty boyfriend stealer have un-tweezable caterpillar eyebrows, but he won’t let her mess around with the much stronger wishes that can say, give a regular human the ability to fly.

Totally awesome fan art by Margot Wood

On one of her “errands” Karou has a run-in with an angel named Akiva, who she feels an odd attraction to. Karou is perfectly human, but since she hangs with the Chimera she’s an enemy to the angels, who have been at war with the Chimera for a thousand years. But of course, these two crazy kids totally fall for each other. Too bad Akiva has been tasked with closing all the doors that lead to the Chimera world and destroying Brimstone’s workshop. Because of Akiva and his fellow angels’ efforts, Karou ends up getting locked out of her Chimeran home and is basically all alone in the world, wondering what happened to her surrogate family and how she can get back to them. She’s also dealing with her developing feelings for Akiva.

Karou has always felt like she wasn’t whole – that there was something missing in her life. She doesn’t know where she came from or who her real family is. She doesn’t understand why Brimstone is so adamant about her not opening the other door in the workshop, or why she’s had Hamsas printed on her palms for as long as she can remember. It’s Akiva who realizes who Karou is, and the secrets her past holds. And then things get really interesting.

Karou in doll form, made by Nataloons

You guys, this book sucked me in like you wouldn’t believe. Before reading DoSaB I had just finished another book set in Prague, so maybe I was just in a Prague-y mindset, but the descriptions of the city were so vivid, I felt like I was actually there. And I totally wanted to hang out at the Poison Kitchen with Karou and Zuzana, eating goulash and trying on gas masks.

The interesting thing about Daughter of Smoke and Bone, without giving away any spoilers, is that it’s basically two stories in one book. First we get to know Karou and her whole deal, then we find out the real story of Karou, and get to read about that business. It’s kind of like reading books one and two of a series in one go. BUT, just as you’re like, “Holy shit this is so amazing I want it to go on forever,” it ends.

And I immediately missed it. Forever Young Adult calls this TEABS (The End of an Awesome Book Syndrome). And I had it BAD. I would look online at countless other titles, hoping to find something to read next, but I kept thinking about Karou, and Akiva, and Prague, and how much I missed the world of DoSaB. I’d stare into space and whisper to myself, Lost-style, “We have to go back.”  Luckily for me, the second book in the trilogy (The world of YA is all trilogies these days, have you noticed?) comes out November 6.

And, of course, the movie rights have been sold to Universal. As with all books that I love that are being turned into movies, I’m concerned. It could easily end up being a CGI clusterfuck where everything looks ridiculous and terrible. I suggest they try their hardest to get Guillermo del Toro on board to work his creature-magic. After all, he’s already familiar with hand-eyes.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: Available at your local library, or $10 on Amazon

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