I started reading Daughter of Smoke & Bone, by Laini Taylor, because I was going to Prague and wanted to read books set in the city during my trip. When I wrote about my vacation, a few bloggers suggested the book. Everything else set in Prague (mostly Kafka and Milan Kundera) sounded to heavy for vacation reading but a fantasy YA book seemed like a perfect fit.
Despite my initial enthusiasm, the first sentences of the book made me nervous. “Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” I thought the overused opening spelled a cliched Romeo and Juliet, good versus evil love story. But as I continued reading I learned that not only should you not judge a book by its cover, but also that you shouldn’t judge one by its first sentence. Daughter of Smoke & Bone turned out to be a complex, unpredictable, and enjoyable read. The book begins with Karou, a young woman balancing her life as an art student in Prague with her “family responsibility” collecting teeth and trading them in for wishes with the Chimera who raised her. She doesn’t know how the teeth are used, how she ended up with a family of half human monsters, or even who (or what) she is. As she meets the oh-so-handsome Akiva and develops a complicated relationship with him, she will find the answers to these questions and her complicated past. But it remains to be seen in sequels if she will regret learning the truth.
While I enjoyed reading about Prague, the world building and fantasy elements are the book’s main strengths. Taylor twists different myths and folklores together to create a unique, high fantasy story that certainly lived up to its hype from glowing reviews from Kirkus and The New York Times. If high fantasy isn’t your think I’d skip this one, otherwise if you give it a try I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Also, proving my belief that all young adult writers know each other and are friends (and my increasing desire to be part of the club) it appears Laini Taylor is close friends with Stephanie Perkins, who wrote Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. What do you think I have to do to become friends with them?