four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
56-Jan-Feb-2012
By: 
Laini Taylor
user_rating: 
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A-Daughter of Smoke and BoneLaini Taylor is the author of Fairies of Dreamdark: Blackbringer (2007), its sequel, Dreamdark: Silksinger (2009), and the National Book Award finalist Lips Touch: Three Times (2009). Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first in a new series.

The Story: When 17-year-old Karou, an art student living in Prague, is not avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend, she's running errands for Brimstone, a horned chimera with crocodile eyes who has raised her since birth. Brimstone has never told Karou why she must travel the globe via a magic portal, gathering elephant tusks and bags of human teeth for his collection. But when one of her expeditions goes terribly awry after she meets the beautiful seraph Akiva, Zarou realizes she must discover the truth about her past if she is to save those she loves. Who is she? Who is Brimstone? And what does he do with all those teeth?
Little, Brown. 432 pages. $18.99. ISBN: 9780316134026

School Library Journal 4.5 of 5 Stars
"The reveals are wonderfully paced, just as you think you know what the story is and where Taylor is going, the story turns and twists to something else. And at the end, it turns out there are no twists and turns: it all makes sense, it all comes together in one straight path, it just takes a while to realize it." Liz Burns

Entertainment Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"The smartly plotted, surprising, and fiercely compelling read will hook you from its opening pages. (Seriously, cancel all plans once you begin; you won't want to put it down.)" Sara Vilkomerson

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"It's to Taylor's great credit that evil incarnate and its love match in Daughter of Smoke and Bone are such imaginative interpretations and that the worlds in which this romance unfolds are likewise so unique: Telling a tale this apocryphal requires serious outside-the-box plot work to pull off." Susan Carpenter

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"Taylor has taken elements of mythology, religion and her own imagination and pasted them into a believably fantastical collage. ... Who as a teenager didn't feel like a chimera, a mix of seemingly disparate parts forming an uncertain self?" Chelsea Philpot

Critical Summary

In a genre teeming with werewolves, ghosts, and vampires, it's refreshing to come across a YA fantasy author like Laini Taylor. Critics loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone, a novel "written with high-stakes fantastical flair" (Los Angeles Times). The themes are familiar--the battle between good and evil, the star-crossed lovers--but Taylor creates a story that is surprising, fresh, and just plain fun to read. Most impressive is her ability to evoke multiple worlds without overwhelming the reader--from the vast Gothic splendor of Prague to the creepy confines of Brimstone's tooth-filled lair. The only thing critics hated was the wait; it will be a long year before they can get their hands on the planned sequel.