Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

* * * * 1/2

AROUND THE WORLD, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged creatures 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 speaks many languages – not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color.  Who is she?  That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

From master storyteller and National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor comes a sweeping and gorgeously written modern fantasy about a forbidden love, an ancient and epic battle and a hope for a world remade.

Marvelous! Laini Taylor has created a breathtaking world with text that swims with vivid imagery and color. I’ll admit that it took me the first 40 pages before the book's rhythm cast its spell on me and now a few days later I'm still a bit heady from it.

Karou is a child of two worlds  human and supernatural. The only family she has ever known are all chimaera  creatures whose physical attributes are both human and animal-like at once. The head of her family is Brimestone. He is both a father figure to her and her employer. As a collector of teeth he sends her on errands all over the world to trade and buy them. She doesn’t know exactly what the teeth are for but since Brimestone is the only family she has, she trusts him implicitly. Meanwhile, she can't let go of this sense that she's not completely whole. She's never been told where she came from or how Brimestone came to be her protector. But that finally changes when the latest errand she's sent on has her colliding into her past.

Akiva is an angel who from an early age was bred to be a fierce warrior. In his world, the angels and chimaera have been locked in an ages-old battle for power and dominance as long as anyone can remember. Co-existing peacefully is out of the question. When Akiva and Karou finally encounter each other, there’s a burning, irresistible force that draws them to one another. Once Akiva figures out why, he has to decide if it’s worth everything he holds close to him to help Karou remember who she really is.

Readers will have to be patient as the story gently unfolds in its own unique way. It pivots back and forth between Karou and Akiva and distant memories before the pieces come together. By the time you get there the stakes are high and the crisis that has been building has taken on a new life.

Laini Taylor’s storytelling is beyond extraordinary. Her descriptions are so meticulous and the dazzling images stay stuck in your head. I wish I could say more but you have to discover each page for yourself. Simply put, if you want to be "wowed", Daughter of Smoke & Bone will certainly do it!

~ Bel

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