Sunday, June 25, 2017

Daughter of Smoke & Bone - Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1)

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.

It did not end well. 

Wow.  Why did I not read this book before now?  It's so cliche, so trope-y, and yet Taylor has a way of writing and bringing everything together that turns what could have very easily been trite into something truly beautiful.

The story here is about Karou, a teenage girl living in Prague and attending art school when she's not running errands collecting teeth for a chimera named Brimstone, who pays her in wishes.  Raised by Brimstone and a band of compatriots, Karou has always felt out of place both in their presence and in the human world.  But one day, while on an errand in Marrakesh, Karou is attacked by an honest-to-goodness angel--and while she escapes, she soon finds herself cut off from Brimstone and the only family she's ever known.

Overall, I found this to be an amazing book.  The magic doors that can open to different locations, Karou's background, the art, the lush descriptions of Prague, her apartment, all of it.  The sizzling chemistry between Karou and Akiva, with a dynamic of "meant to be" that I love to see in books--yes, it's basically love at first sight, but there's a reason behind it.  And I adore the idea of wishes as payment, with the different denominations and such.  For the first two-thirds of the book, I adored this story.  And then Karou found out who she really was, and...the plot just sloooowed.

The last third of the book completely changes tone and pace from the first two-thirds because Taylor suddenly jumps back in time to a "how we got to this point" perspective with Madrigal.  While the insight into chimera society was fascinating, but it just didn't seem to fit with this point in the story and read like a very well-written and rich info-dump rather than as something to propel the plot forward, which is what really should have been at this point in the book structure-wise.  I wouldn't have minded this story line about Madrigal, but I feel like it might have been better peppered throughout the rest of the book rather than dropped in a lump at the end.  It goes back to the "present day" story for the very last bit, of course, and while you can see what's coming, it's kind of this dread sense of hoping it's not what you think it is...but it is, of course.  A terrible ending but also a magnificent one because it sets up the rest of the series for plots of redemption and vengeance and romance, all of which are perfectly delicious in conjunction with each other.

So, yes.  Some pacing problems with how it was structured, but overall a wonderful book.  I can't wait to read the other two.

4 stars out of 5.

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