Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Kate Walker Reviews: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Daughter of Smoke and Bone. An intriguing title indeed. I had read conflicting reviews on this book in the run up to its official release; some reviewers were essentially spewing rainbows over how good the book was, others were not so
Daughter of Smoke and Bone. An intriguing title indeed. I had read conflicting reviews on this book in the run up to its official release; some reviewers were essentially spewing rainbows over how good the book was, others were not so forthcoming.
The chunkiest and, frankly, most intimidating novel in my post-Christmas to-be-read pile, I put it off until I'd run out of books to read and had a good, free weekend to tackle it in.
Well, a weekender it was not. It follows the story of the seventeen year old artist Karou as she struggles to balance a life in Prague with a life... well, Elsewhere, becoming embroiled in a complicated struggle between teenage life, magic, angels and chimerae.
Despite the time it took me to read, and the days when my boyfriend asked "Do you like it?" and I repeatedly felt compelled to respond with an agonised "I don't knooooow.", I still have come to the conclusion that I very much enjoyed Taylor's book. While it did stumble into a few of the standard YA pitfalls, Daughter of Smoke and Bone did not fail to deliver in style and substance.
The main pitfall was the whole beautiful baddie thing that writers are so fond of. I'm getting to quite miss the villains that look like they ran for the bus and caught it with their face or appear as if their mother mated with some kind of genetically mutated sheep creature. How much is it to ask for a good old villain that doesn't want to get into our protagonist's pants and betray everything they ever stood for? That, my friends, is not character progression; that is a serious lack of dedication to your cause.
So, my only real gripe is Akiva. Ever wary of the pretty male counterpart, I disliked him for a myriad of reasons that I won't bore you with, mostly because I will get shouted down by his cheerleaders. That isn't to say that I rooted for Karou's slimy ex Kaz any more than I did Akiva; I was just hoping we'd reached a point in YA literature where romance wasn't the driving force behind the whole plot. Daughter of Smoke and Bone doesn't need a sappy love story; the wonderful tale of the war between the Seraphim and the Chimerae carries the whole book beautifully and I would have liked more focus on the battle aspect rather than the whole 'stomach butterflies' deal. (Plus, Akiva quite readily inhabited the current trope of 'creepy as hell stalkery boyfriends are the best kind of dedicated life partner!' which I did not appreciate.)
At times, I found the style a little pretentious and hard to work through. I think that Taylor is often over-poetic and purple prose happens to be an enormous turn off for me when it comes to novels. The twist was obvious but still appreciated, though I'm not sure if the whole flashback thing worked for me.
The main thing that I enjoyed was the use of the angel lore and the revenant concept. To me, at least, Brimstone's particular line of work was new and certainly unique, and a welcome revelation after spending so much of the book wondering about the purpose of teeth, as they seemed to be so important yet so ubiquitous in Karou's life. Definitely enjoyed the wishes, also, though it took me a chapter or two to remember the hierarchy! (Scuppies, Shings, Lucknows, Gavriels... what was it again?)