Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Friday, April 18, 2014

Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came.
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.
I am late to the party. This has been known to happen. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, if you've not read it already, should be on your to-read list. It evokes a profoundly strange and exotic and surreal world, in which creatures can be made from teeth (super creepy, super awesome) and hidden realms can be accessed through magical doors and holes in the sky. This stuff, you guys? I love this stuff. Not quite as much as I love time travel, coma dreams, and everybody getting killed by zombies, but almost as much. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was so extraordinary that my expectations were impossibly high for Days of Blood and Starlight, and while that contained some astonishingly good twists and more of the vivid imagery of the first book, it's pretty difficult for a middle book of a series to be a stand-out, especially after the amazing world-building and utterly mesmerising first novel.
Another thing that happens with series is that with each subsequent book the characters have experienced more suffering and pain - necessary for a good, exciting plot, but if the characters develop properly (i.e. not in soap operas, where everyone forgets five minutes later) characters get dark and tortured really quickly. I think that can make a book a little too draining - and as Karou discovers more and more about who she was, it gets terribly heavy. What I seek in stories is generally some sort of ultimate hopefulness, and Days of Blood and Starlight did not end on a good note. So I'm certainly looking forward to Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the final instalment of the trilogy.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone on the publisher's website
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