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Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

A few months ago I read a book called The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey, the good reads reviews for that book are filled with people comparing it to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. If you’ve read my review of that book you’ll know that I actually really enjoyed it, despite it’s resemblance to The Mortal Instruments series, however I hadn’t read Daughter of Smoke and Bone so I couldn’t comment on that likeness. The internet seemed to be raving about this book, and a friend had a copy going spare, so I figured I’d give it a go and here we are.

daughterAround the world, black hand prints 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 grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly 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 colour. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery 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?’

Hype. Never trust hype. This book seems to have had a lot of it and it just doesn’t live up to it. Sure, it’s highly readable and a very nice concept but it reads like two different books and they don’t compliment each other all that well.

The first half of this book features Karou the art student. She lives two lives, one in Prague where she goes to high school and has to dodge her friends questions about her constant disappearances and the other in a small shop in ‘elsewhere’, the magical place where she grew up, her guardians being mish-mash animal people who trade teeth for wishes and are super secretive about the land beyond the door in the back. The set up for this series is well executed, there are questions posed and places and people introduced and all the while the art theme is explored throughout, with descriptions featuring artists and art styles all the way through. It was a fun jaunt and I was really interested in the story, the who and the why.

Then came Akiva. Anyone who’s read Twilight can guess what happened next. On their first meeting Akiva nearly kills Karou and he spends the next 3 months stalking her to make sure she’s OK…. I think? I’m not really sure, anyway then they meet again during the stalking and fall instantly in love. The narrative tips off from the actual plot of ancient Angel vs Devil war in favour of “oh how gorgeous we are, how in love I am after knowing you one day and you trying to kill me that one time”. Then it turns out they knew each other in a previous life and there is a whole big portion of book dedicated to how that went, and during this time absolutely nothing that has anything to do with current plot is happening. If the idea had been to write a newer, fantasy based Romeo and Juliet then that would have been fine, but the first half of the book told a different story and that doesn’t sit well with me. The fact that the actual plot was left as a cliffhanger so that people will read the next book just made me angry, after the author abandoned it during the second half of the same book.

I get the comparisons to The Girl at Midnight, there are definitely similarities: fantastic races at war and the humans don’t know. Human girl raised by one side and falls for a guy from the other. The whole you-are-my-ex-resurrected story line. Unfortunately, I think The Girl at Midnight did a better job. There was a plot that wound through the whole of the book, not just half of it and the relationships appeared to actually develop over time rather than just h
appen because both parties were hot. And at no point was it specifically mentioned that the Dragon Prince was wearing eyeliner. I’m all for men in eyeliner (Pete Wentz circa 2006 anyone?) but the way it was phrased was just hilarious, like it was thrown in because someone went “hey, you know what girls like? Eyeliner. You should give him eyeliner.” Plus there was that whole chapter called Evanescence where I have no idea what actually happened because I was too busy singing Bring Me To Life in my head. Wait, that chapter was about being executed… I feel like this was aimed at 15 year old emos, from 2006. In fact, I probably would have loved it back then.

So then, not my thing at all. A promising start followed by a dull, cliche filled, plotless ending. I own the second novel in the series and I probably won’t read it unless I get really bored. 2 stars.

** 2/5

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