The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (2011)

Kishmish took to the sky and was gone in a flutter. Karou watched, wishing she could follow. What magnitude of wish, she wondered, would it take to endow her with flight (p 32)?

If wishes were teeth, teeth would be ripped out by poachers and taken to Brimstone, the wishmonger.

Brimstone is a chimera with ram horns adorning his head, the eyes of a crocodile, the arms and torso of a man, leonine legs and clawed feet. His shop, between Earth and elsewhere, is where Karou was raised by four half-human, half-beast creatures.

Now seventeen, Karou is an artist attending school in Prague. She moonlights as Brimstone’s errand girl. The portal to his shop acts as a gateway to various portals across the globe. She collects teeth and Brimstone grants wishes of varying strength.

But Karou knows very little about her family. What does Brimstone do with all those teeth? Where are Issa, Twiga, Yasri and Brimstone from? Where does the locked door in the shop lead?

Then an angel appears, marking the portals. He attacks Karou, calling the chimera demons. She barely escapes. Soon she is drawn into another world where war rages and she is pitted between her family and the angel she loves.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone is grand in scope. It involves fantastical beasts, angels, resurrection, exotic locales, parallel worlds, epic romance. There is no want for imagination. There is, however, a serious lack of readable prose.

Using (dare I call them) words like war-criminaliness (p 52), missingness (p 53), and lostness (p 79) – not to mention cliché phrases like achingly beautiful (p 59) – left me clenching my jaw. And then:

What Kaz felt wasn’t surprise. It was jealousy. Karou was flying, sure, but she was not flying alone. She was with a man, a man who even Kaz–who claimed it was “gay” to recognize the attractiveness of other men–had to admit to himself was beautiful to the point of absurdity. Beautiful to the point of completely overdoing it.
Uncool
, he thought, crossing his arms (p 190-91).

Akiva’s hottness has been profusely commented upon prior to this point. This passage (and several more that followed) completely overdid it for me.

And so the poor execution, the ridiculous romance, and the book’s length overshadowed and spoiled the grand vision. I am not shocked the bloggers are ga ga over this novel. Many were spouting the same drivel over Twilight. I am shocked to see so many glowing reviews from professional sources: Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, even The New York Times. Frankly, I’m baffled.

It appears Universal has optioned the rights for a movie and I actually believe this might work a lot better as a movie.

Read other reviews:
A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy (SLJ)
Escape Through the Pages
Kirkus (starred)
New York Times
The Reading Date
The Reading Nook

3 thoughts on “The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (2011)

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one underwhelmed by this one compared to the insane amount of hype. The story is interesting but it definitely lacks something (and that cliffhanger!).

    • I just popped over and read your review. It sounds like you enjoyed it more than I did (I gave it one star on Goodreads) but it is refreshing to know someone else is irked the story ended on a cliffhanger when a book that size should be self-contained. *sigh* I’m so tired of unnecessary trilogies.

      I really couldn’t get past (what I consider) to be very poor writing. It’s so disgustingly sappy and bloated. No subtlety whatsoever. And I really wanted to like it!

      • I didn’t even put it in my review because it was too hard to articulate but something in the writing seemed very off to me–it almost sounded like it was a translation of a book written in a different language the way everything was so ornately phrased. I wanted to like it more but that and the cliffhanger (and ten chapter flashback) made it a real challenge.

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