Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Published by Hodder & Stoughton, Little Brown Books for Young Readers on September 29th 2011
Pages: 448
Genres: Paranormal YA, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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There once was a young artist called Karou who drew tales of monsters and demons that delighted and enthralled those around her. But she has a secret, a secret that ties her to a dusty subterranean chamber, where her beloved guardian brokers dark deals in a place that is not here. A place that is Elsewhere. Living with one foot in each world, Karou has never really known which one is her true home.

Now the doors to Elsewhere closing . . .

Thoughts: I was expecting great things from Laini Taylor, and I got them. I got them in spades. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is probably the most unique paranormal Young Adult novel I’ve ever read. Absolutely everything took me by surprise: the characters, the universe and – amazingly – even the romance.

US cover

Daughter of Smoke and Bone starts off in Prague, narrated by multi-lingual, blue-haired, and tattooed Karou. In between trips to gothic cafes and studying at an art school, she tries to keep up a secret life in a magical world. And before you start imagining Diagon Alley, let me clarify. Karou’s other world is filled with body parts and bizarre creatures, it is rough around the edges and dark in the centre… dark but not evil, per-say.

While there are plenty of more detailed reviews out there, you really should not know more than that. Because past the introduction? Everything goes haywire. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a book about angels and demons, but it is also not about angels and demons. It is about forbidden love, but it is about so much more than forbidden love. It is a book that takes every stereotype you’ve ever loathed and turns them into something magical and utterly unique. I was stunned by how Laini Taylor could make me accept things that – only ten pages before – I would have thought utterly implausible or unjustifiable. It turns out, all I needed was a stellar author guiding me!

The only thing that keeps me from giving this a full five stars – and there really is only one thing, this novel is almost perfection in writing – is the central romantic relationship. While I loved both characters individually, I wasn’t completely sold on them together. I think I just need some more time to become enamoured with the two of them together… something the next novel should accomplish!

One final note: Brimstone. Brimstone, Brimstone, Brimstone. He was the one and only character that made me tear up in this book, and just thinking about him gives me a lump in my throat. Apparently I have a thing for tender-hearted father figures who show little-to-no emotion – and if you do too, you’ll love him just as much as I did. ♥

Bottom line? Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a book about wishes and monsters, hope and betrayal, love lost and love found, teeth and smoke. Read it.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is out today in the UK. Go get a copy!

Shelf Analysis: ARCs vs Final Covers – Round 2

If you’re new to Dead Book Darling then… Hi. I’m Kay. I love books and hold serious grudges. I don’t forgive and I don’t forget. And just because I love books, that doesn’t mean they are automatically spared my ire.

Often times a gorgeous cover will come out – a cover that says all the right things, makes you swoon and has you running to the chapel. Then, that cover you loved? It changes into a cover you wouldn’t want to be seen in public with. And when that happens, I don’t tend to keep calm and carry on. I hold a grudge.

I’ve addressed this subject before (don’t get me started again on the covers of the Strange Angels series), but a few books that I’m kinda in love with have had their covers changed this year. And while most of these new covers aren’t terrible, someone has to pay homage to their gorgeous but recently-deceased ARC covers…

ARC // Final Cover
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Talk about radically different covers! When I first saw the change my thoughts on the new cover were simple: “meh”. It is a really boring, give-nothing-away cover. It’s nice, but there is no detail. Razorland, on the other hand, was detail mad. It features absolutely gorgeous artwork that fits in well with Ann Aguirre’s other illustrated covers. It also really has the post-apocalyptic, do-or-die feel to it that the book has.
But Enclave is a great non-gender specific YA read. And which cover do I think a teenage boy is more likely to pick up? Er, the Enclave cover of course! So while I am glad that I have the ARC of this book and get to have the “best of both worlds”, I am (reluctantly) glad that they changed the cover. Reluctantly
US ARC // US Final Cover
I saw the ARC cover to this book ages ago… and went “ick” and promptly forgot about it. Then, months later, I got the UK ARC in the mail and realised that Laini Taylor was also the author of Lips Touch: Three Times (a book I have heard sooooo many great things about). After I finished the book – and loved it – I did a bit of research and found the US ARC cover that I had seen so many months ago.
And now? Now I really really like it!
OK, I so I can admit that it is not the most… coherent of images. It’s a bird, no it’s a girl, no is a turquoise girl – red girl mashup. What on earth is that about?? But trust me when I say that it works for this novel. Out of all the 3 released covers I’ve seen for this novel, the US ARC is the most representative of the content.
But if you haven’t read it… well, then my original “ick” response applies. So, yay! for feathered masks.
UK ARC // Final Cover
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Oh, dear lord. I loathe the US Bloodlines face covers. This one and the already released cover of The Golden Lily. I had always thought the Vampire Academy face covers were alright: not worthy of loathing or loving. But these? These are dreadful. The font is cheesy, the models look annoyingly stuck-up, and there isn’t even a proper background to them. Just… dreadful.

So when the UK publishers released their cover to book, I was rather excited. I hadn’t liked how they had re-issued the Vampire Academy series to give them simple, face-free covers… but they hadn’t done too bad a job with Bloodlines.

Then, shortly after releasing the ARC cover to the blogosphere, they changed their mind. They’ll be using the US face covers to give a more “global” feel to the series.

Nooooo! Why ditch the perfectly nice cover you’ve already designed? The cover that would sit nicely next to the non-face covers you had given to the Vampire Academy series! Why?? And if you honestly wanted a “global” feel, then why on EARTH did you choose the face cover from HELL to spread across the globe. Why??

So while I will, of course, be buying Richelle’s new series… am I a happy bunny? No, I am not.