Daughter of Smoke of Bone by Laini Taylor features a fun protagonist, Karou, an art student with peacock blue hair. One would think she’s a typical college student, dying her hair quite an unlikely color. But in truth, she doesn’t color it at all. Studying art in Prague, she happens to lead a bit of a double life. While she lives here, in the world we know, her ‘family’ lives in another world that she accesses through portals.
I really enjoy her personality. She is a bit mysterious and has a wry sense of humor that she uses that to her advantage as she tells people truths that are not quite unbelievable within the world we as humans know. They just assume she is joking. However, in truth, there are many unbelievable things that are just part of Karou’s life. It’s a life that she herself does not really understand, but just lives. As part of it, she runs mysterious errands across the world, traveling via portals, she also gets wishes, that are a type of magic brought from the other world as well. But all of this, she feels a bit lost, not real sure where she really came from or who she really is (her family through the portal is an adoptive family, of sorts.
“This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing”
Things take a turn however, when mysterious handprints start showing up, scorched onto the doors that serve as portals, and from here, the story really starts unfolding and we get to see Karou tested, challenged and thrown headlong into war she knows nothing about.
I enjoyed Taylor’s writing and think it worked well to get across the personality of the younger protagonist, but didn’t sacrifice quality at all. It was creative, fun, and had a good flow to it. However, at about half way through the book, the story just lost something for me. The pacing seemed slower, there were flashbacks, that while very important, felt like an interruption to the story being told; they seemed to break the flow and I started losing interest. . The romance also was a bit much for me as well. The good news was that the last 10% or so of the book, the pace picked back up (way up), and I was just as engaged as I was in the beginning. I just wish that could have held for the entire story.
Overall, I enjoyed the story. It’s a story of love, friendship, hope and magic. Taylor’s prose is very well written, easy to read, and features the wry humor that her protagonist shares. It would be a good choice for fans of YA, especially ones looking for a strong female lead and very fantastical style romance.
“Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic”
Many thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.