What I’m Reading: DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor

A story so delightfully weird, wonderfully strange, and masterfully written, that you trust the author entirely and devour ever word as though it were fact.

Summary from the inside jacket:

All around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Daughter was selected for Tracey’s Neithercott’s Fall Book Club, and boy was I happy. This book has been getting all sorts of praise and I was planning on reading it either way, so having it as our October read was a bonus. Since many people reading this review will be Fall Book Club readers that have also finished the novel, I want to announce that there are spoilers ahead. They are marked clearly.

This book.

Let me start by saying that I didn’t expect to like this. I thought I would be in the minority that would sheepishly say it wasn’t my thing. But Laini? This woman can weave a tail so rich and realized and convincingly authentic that I literally fell into Karou’s world and bought ever last drop of it.

There are so many things to love about this book. First of all, the writing is beautiful. I caught myself rereading certain passages over and over again just because I wanted to savor the words. The setting of Prague is bustling and alive, the world of Elsewhere is fantasticaly creepy. The short blurbs that served as intro to each section/part of the novel are beautiful, but never quite what you think. There is always a subtle twist to their words. Even from the opener – Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well – we get the truth, but it unfolds in an unexpected way.

And creative ingenuity. Can we talk about this? I’ll admit I haven’t read a ton of angel books, but I have a feeling this book is like no other. The depth of creativity that Laini puts into this novel is phenominal. Teeth, sketchbooks, wishbones, masked balls, angels, chimera. They all wove together so tightly.

And I’m not going to lie, this book was weird. Like, super weird. There were several times where I found myself mumbling “what?” – not because I was confused, but simply because I did not see a twist or plot device coming and had no clue how it would play into the story and tie up in a neat bow at the end. But one thing I decided upon early one was this: I trusted Laini. I think this comes back to what a fantastic writer she is. No matter how weird things got on the page, I knew I was along for the ride, and I had complete faith that everything would come full circle. And it did.




It started to come together, for me at least, during the lengthy flashback right before the climax. At first, I was a little peeved by how long this flashback was. I found myself thinking, “Ah! Let’s get back to Karou. How can you kill the momentum here?” But as Madrigal’s story was told, I slowly realized how invested I was in her tale. Because Madrigal is Karou and Karoul is Madrigal and the angel and devil that fell in love was Madrigal back then, but also Karou now. This was genius on Laini’s part. I cared so much about both characters because they were one in the same. I experienced the wonder of learning Madrigal’s past alongside Karou, and in that way, I felt like I was Karou, uncovering a hidden piece of my own life.

The ball. The masks. The stakes with Akiva. I don’t think I have ever bought into a destined love-at-first-sightish couple the way I bought into these two. My stomach was in a fit of girlish, swooning butterflies. I wanted them to kiss, even though I knew how it would end (that opener told us, after all). And ultimately, I knew they had to because we needed to return to Karou, who is Madrigal, and I as much as I hated to see Madrigal’s fall, I was dying to see Karou reunite with Avika. Swoon. Just swoon.

But even beneath all that, I think this book touched on some really lovely topics: Unconditional love and sacrifice (what Brimstone does for Madrigal/Karou), betrayal and fear (the way Madrigal’s sister is her downfall), good and evil (how the angels in this book are shades of gray, right along with the chimeras), and hope (Karou’s namesake, what keeps Avika alive, what keeps Brimstone motivated, what sparks Karou’s decisions at the very end of the novel).




This book was brilliant. Just brilliant. It was so unlike anything I’ve read. I will absolutely pick up the sequel, and in the meantime, I’m going to have to run out and pick up Laini’s LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES (which I’ve also heard praised) to fill the void left by DAUGHTER.

But one last thought. Having read this novel, I now have a new appreciation for other covers. I’ve always loved the UK edition (it is simply gorgeous), but the ARC for DAUGHTER might have been a more fitting representation of this book, in my opinion:

When I originally saw the ARC, I was not a huge fan, but the dichotomy of the two forms really speaks to me now. And while I do still like the US hardcover, I wish that blue mask had been upgraded a little. I mean, who are we kidding? The mask worn in the story is a million times more magical than that feathery one. Am I right?

So readers, what did you think of DAUGHTER? Yay? Nay? Something in the middle? Tell me in the comments!

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