Note: This review has been written to avoid spoilers for the books later in the series.
Daughter of Smoke and Bones Trilogy
By Laini Taylor
This trilogy consists of the following books: Daughter of Smoke & Bones (#1), Days of Blood and Starlight (#2), and Dreams of Gods & Monsters (#3). The trilogy tells the story of a blue-headed girl, Karou, who lives in Prague and was raised by monsters. Karou attends an art school and visits her monster family whenever Brimstone – the head of the family – needs her to collect teeth (or “run errands,” as she tells her human friends). But one day, black handprints start appearing on doors that lead to her monster family. The doors burn and Karou is cut off from the only family she’s ever known.
The burning of the doors throws Karou into a tailspin. She embarks on a search to find her loved ones and in the process, becomes a key player in another world, Eretz, a world of which she knew nothing. Karou is the only human in a world of angels (seraph) and monsters, or “creatures of mixed aspect” (chimera).* It takes an angel (Akiva) to introduce her to the world – to unveil the secrets of her past; shed light on a war in which she’d play a key role; and encourage her to dream of peace.
Review/Recommendation: I started this series because it seemed to be all over the place – I was seeing the trilogy in bookstore displays and it was regularly popping up in my Goodreads feed. I knew little about the trilogy until I picked up the first book and read the back, which actually read more like a mystery than it actually was. Even though it wasn’t what I expected, I was hooked almost immediately.
The Format: I listened to the first book in the trilogy but read the other two. I enjoyed both formats, but am really glad I listened to the first book. It helped immensely in learning the intended pronunciation of foreign and made up names and words that appeared frequently in all three books.
The Writing: For the most part, the writing was simple, clean, and easy to read. However, in Daughter of Smoke & Bones, something about the verbiage used made me think that Taylor was attempting to appeal to an older audience or was still finding her voice. This didn’t happen frequently, but the instances dwindled and eventually disappeared as the story progressed.
The Story & The Characters: I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline that traversed the trilogy. Taylor quickly engaged the reader, or at least me, making it difficult to put the books down. There is something in the series for everyone – a little mystery and intrigue, secrets and deception, betrayal and revenge, love, and a lot of hope.
All of the characters in the trilogy had strong personalities that evoked strong feelings for the reader – love them, hate them, be repulsed by them, whatever… all of the primary and secondary characters evoked a strong feeling for me as I was reading. There was a fairly wide spread of personalities – indisputable villains among both the seraph and chimera, quirky and witty human friends, Akiva’s strong-willed sister and gentle-tempered brother… the diversity kept the books interesting. I appreciated that both these major characters as well as other secondary characters showed the propensity for change, as they got to know other characters and the opposite species.
The story slowed down a bit towards the end (the second half of the third book), as things got a little more… philosophical, as the characters delved into discussions about the existence of space and time barriers. Interesting, but a very difference change of pace from the rest of the trilogy.
All in all, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this series, since I picked it up pretty randomly. If you haven’t read any of Taylor’s works and enjoy fantasy novels, I definitely recommend this one. For my part, I will most certainly be checking out Taylor’s other work very soon.