“Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3)” by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods and MonstersDREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3)
Author: Laini Taylor
Read Date: 10 April 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In this thrilling conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, Karou is still not ready to forgive Akiva for killing the only family she’s ever known.

When a brutal angel army trespasses into the human world, Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat–and against larger dangers that loom on the horizon. They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves–maybe even toward love.

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

Review summary: Perhaps too ambitious, but a dramatic finale that readers who have journeyed with Karou will certainly appreciate.

*SPOILER WARNING FOR PLOT DETAILS* Continue reading

“Night of Cake & Puppets” by Laini Taylor

night of cake and puppetsNIGHT OF CAKE & PUPPETS (A Daughter of Smoke and Bone novella)
Author: Laini Taylor
Read Date: 8 January 2014
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

In “Night of Cake & Puppets”, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike.

Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.

I wish I was typing this post up while eating chocolate cake and sipping Moroccan mint tea. *tragic sigh*

As meet-cutes go, Zuzana and Mik’s is probably one of the best I’ve ever read. A treasure hunt around Prague? Come on, it’s gotta be tough to top that!

It’s not surprising that Zuzana was the one who orchestrated their first meeting, especially knowing what we know about her from the “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” novels; she is a very assertive lady.

Milquetoast girls raised on princess stories might sit tight and bat their eyelashes in desperate Morse code – notice me, like me, please – but I am not that girl.

And if “Night of Cake and Puppets” happens to be your happy accident of an introduction to Zuzana and the series, well, now you know (and knowing is half the battle, so get to reading “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” and “Days of Blood and Starlight” already!) 😛

One of the things that really intrigued me in this novella is the reveal that Zuzana (and her grandfather) had experiences with magic before all the shit with Karou went down in “Smoke and Bone”. And maybe it’s not much of a stretch to think that the undead fox Cossack inside the glass box in Zuzana’s house is a creature from that other world where the Chimaera and the Seraphim reside.

Once you know magic is real, it’s really hard to remember what it was like not to know. It’s kind of like trying to see how you look with your eyes closed.

The other thing that intrigued me is Zuzana using magic in the form of wishes made on the scuppies that Karou gave her. It has been some time since I read the 2 novels, particularly the first, so I am not sure if the magic system of the DoSaB Universe allowed just about any mortal to use scuppies or wishes when they get a hold of them. In any case, Zuzana’s use of it adds another dimension to the rules of magic in play.

‘It was magic,’ I say simply. I’ve learned this from Karou, as regards magic: You can tell the most outlandish truths with virtually no risk of being believed.

The last thing is that Zuzana would use 4 of her 5 precious wishes to get Mik. But then again, that’s passionate (and vicious) Zuzana for you.

I have scuppies in my pocket and lust in my heart. Tonight’s the night.

I had a problem with Mik’s chapters, though. In the beginning of Chapter 5, when the novella switches to his point of view for the first time, there was no noticeable change in the character voice. Mik’s narration had that same wit and parenthetic expressions that Zuzana’s had. There were also parallel stuff, like enumerating the things they know about each other.

I think I get what Taylor was going for here, showing more of the couple’s compatibility, but…well, Mik just sounds like Zuzana, only less giddier. His inner character seems too idealized, as if it was Zuzana talking. I’m sorry if this comes off as rather prejudiced, but…do men think like this or talk to themselves in their head like this? (No, really, serious question. I won’t judge you if you say “yes”; I just want to know if it’s authentic. 😉 )

But I like Mik; it’s hard not to like him after reading about him in the 2 novels. I don’t mind him being just your normal nice guy; he’s exactly what Zuzana needs for a partner.

He’s like a good book cover that grabs your gaze. Read me. I’m fun but smart. You won’t be able to put me down.

These in-between stories from the POV of secondary characters seems to have become a trend for YA series lately. This novella, though, enjoyable as it was, could have done with more editing. There is a lot of introspection to give readers an idea about the characters’ motivations and feelings, yes, but Zuzana and Mik overstayed their welcome a bit, and I can’t even believe I just said that about them and Taylor’s writing. But that’s just how I felt after reading it.

I still love the story, of course, and highly recommend it, even to those who haven’t read the first 2 DoSaB novels. It’s sweet and fun and magical and romantic. It has that same lyrical and dream-like quality as the novels, and it still makes me wish I had scuppies so I can wish myself to Prague right now.

And now I really must go find some tea.

❆ ❆ ❆
Related Reviews:
 

Cover Reveal + Excerpt: “Dreams of Gods and Monsters” by Laini Taylor

The Hollywood Reporter just unveiled the cover of “Dreams of Gods and Monsters”, the final book in Laini Taylor’s epic “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” trilogy.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters“Dreams of Gods and Monsters” starts where “Days of Blood and Starlight” left off, with Karou and Akiva discovering each other alive — although Karou is still not ready to forgive Akiva for killing the only family she’s ever known. And now, through an act of staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance.

When Jael’s brutal angel army trespasses into the human world, Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves – maybe even toward love. But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy

There’s also a short excerpt at the link, in which we get to be a fly on the cave walls for a few lines of a Seraphim/Chimera war council. 😉

The book will be released in April 2014. (So. Far. Away. *sigh*)

Postscript to my Recommended Reads from 2012

My 12 Recommended Reads from 2012 story was just published on GMA News Online – Lifestyle: click!

Sidenote: I wasn’t able to include purchase information for the books on the list, so here they are:

  1. The Fault In Our Stars – I saw signed first edition hardcover copies in various Fully Booked branches, so if you’re going to purchase this book, try to find those. This is also part of the John Green Box Set, which is available in all the major book stores.
  2. The Casual Vacancy, Gone Girl, Cinder, Trese 5, The Raven Boys, Bring Up The Bodies, Kwentillion, This Is How You Lose Her, and The Song of Achilles – are all available in local book stores.
  3. Interim Goddess of Love – Because this is published independently by Mina, you can check out her website for purchase options. That Kind of Guy, meanwhile, is available in local book stores.
  4. You can purchase Lauriat on Amazon.com.
  5. Lower Myths – is an e-book available through Flipreads.com. A Bottle of Storm Clouds is available in local book stores and online via Lazada.com.

I had to choose the 12 books for that list carefully so that I can cover a wider variety of books. I don’t think I really succeeded because I know there are a lot of non-fiction, literary fiction, children’s/middle-grade books, and other excellent local literature that I never mentioned. But then again, I only feel comfortable mentioning books that I’ve read or that people/sites that I trust actually recommended.

There are also other good books from my 2012 reading list that did not make it there for several reasons: 1) They weren’t published in 2012 (although I did cheat with “The Song of Achilles,” but that’s too good to not recommend); 2) They are part of a series (I cheated with “Bring Up The Bodies” as well, but that can stand alone as opposed to other sequels I read); 3) There are just other books that are more worth recommending.

Since I don’t need to follow the rules I set above here on the blog, just for the record, here are my other favorites from my actual 2012 reading list:

  • Moondogs by Alexander Yates (4 stars) – I never got around to reviewing this after our book club discussion. This book is set in the Philippines, and everything–the people, the places, the culture, the history–feels authentic despite being written by an American. Sure, Yates lived here for some time, but it still isn’t easy to get that authentic feel, even for some Filipino authors. I also loved Yates’ characters, most of whom, are larger than life. The fantasy elements were fun to see in action, especially when it involves Reynato Ocampo’s X-men like gang, although not so much when we’re dealing with other characters. Over-all, it’s a fun read. 🙂
  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (4 stars) – The idea of an origami finger puppet of the awesomest Jedi Master ever spewing vague wisdom is already great on paper, but it’s so much better on folded paper. (Okay, even I have to wince at that, but let’s run with it.)
  • Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor (5 stars) – Beautiful and enchanting.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (5 stars) – A sci-fi classic, and now that I’ve finally read it, I get why. Despite being written decades ago, its core themes and ideals remain relevant, especially since our modern world is still not free of certain oppressive entities who would ban or burn books in a heartbeat. Until now, I still don’t know what is that one book I would want to be assigned to memorize if I ever joined a secret society of “mental librarians.”
  • The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan (4.5 stars) – is a great finale to Riordan’s “The Kane Chronicles.” The way he Riordan-ized the Egyptian deities here continued to be almost pitch-perfect, and he ties up all the plot lines and character arcs nicely. I didn’t like how he handled the thing with Anubis, though, so I will knock 0.5 stars from my rating.
  • Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima (4 stars) – This is my “surprise” book this year. It isn’t my usual fare, and yet I found myself finishing the entire series despite being required to read only the first book for our book club. Until now, I can’t quite pinpoint what it was that made me want to finish the series, sometimes even at the expense of other books that I told myself I absolutely had to finish then. Most of the Cycle is bleak, even depressing, and there are big chunks of text on religion, philosophy, and history that do not affect the plot but are mostly there only to reinforce certain themes or ideologies. My pet character didn’t even make it past the first book! So yes, indeed, this was a big surprise to me. The even bigger surprise is I’d probably read another Mishima book if I can get a copy of one.
  • Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (5 stars) – The War is on in this sequel to the beautiful Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Taylor does away with her more poetic prose for this one but her writing is no less vivid. She has successfully moved her characters into strategic places on her plot chessboard while giving them more depth than they had in the first book and also developing more of her mythology. And our villain is more solid this time. There are some nice additions to the List of Characters That I Hope Will Not Die But Probably Will, and I still love Akiva, who will remain on my list of Literary Boyfriends. I am very excited for what’s to come in this series.
  • The God Equation and Other Stories by Michael A.R. Co (4 stars) – I love good geeky Filipino speculative fiction and my favorites here are “The God Equation” and “In The Eyes of Many”. Co’s writing is particularly strong in the titular offering, as he manages to not alienate non-math loving readers even as he spews out a lot of technobabble. The majority of the stories often feel rather open-ended despite the plot threads coming to a satisfying close; I’m not sure why, maybe it’s just the writing style. Or maybe it’s just me. Nevertheless, the story ideas are great and they make me want to check out more of Co’s work. [Availability: Books on Demand | Kindle Edition]
  • The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson (4.5 stars) – I’m in the middle of writing a full review of this. I’ll update this post when it’s live. 🙂 UPDATE: click!

p.s. I’m still 3 books behind on my 2012 Reading Challenge of 53 books, so it looks like I have to cram in the next few days. Wish me luck. 😉

Cover Reveal: “Days of Blood and Starlight”

Oh wow! This is just… wow.

Entertainment Weekly just revealed the cover for the sequel to Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone entitled Days of Blood and Starlight.


In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed “Daughter of Smoke and Bone,” Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.

Publication Date: 6 November 2012

(click on the thumbnail to enlarge!)

Laini posted a teaser about the book when she revealed the title on her blog some time ago. You can read the teaser here.

I’m super excited for this book because I fell in love with Daughter of Smoke and Bone and it made me an instant Laini Taylor fan. Daughter also ended with a sort of cliffhanger—the beginning of a new journey for Karou that may change the lives of all of the characters.

And I need more Akiva, please. 🙂

Title Reveal: “Days of Blood and Starlight”

 
You can tell by the way I gushed about Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone that I adored the book, so yes, this title reveal deserves its own post.

Laini has revealed that Book 2 of the series is going to be called:

She also posted this teaser:

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living—one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was like a jewel-box without a jewel—a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world.

September 2012, woohoo! 😀

Coincidentally, I start reading her illustrated anthology, Lips Touch: Three Times today!

Miscellany #01: 24 November 2011

 
Anne McCaffrey (1926-2011)
Anne McCaffrey, a legend in the SF/F community, passed away yesterday. As someone who loves fantasy, I understand what her loss means to the genre and to the people who were inspired and influenced by her works. I must, however, take this as a cue to confess that I have not read any of her books. I know, I know. Feel free to send out your fiercest dragons to hunt me down for this blasphemy (Warning: I wear a Ring of Dragonfire Protection). Or if you don’t have any dragons to send out, maybe you can hit the comments section and send me suggestions for which of her books I should read first instead. ;p

“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” clothing line to be launched
I still haven’t managed to get past the first chapter of the book, but I’m excited to see the movie starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Trish Summerville, the costume designer for the film, is going to launch a men’s clothing line inspired by Mikael Blomkvist’s outfits in the movie, and a women’s clothing line inspired by Lisbeth Salander’s. This warms my little movie geek’s (and my little closet fashion fan’s) heart.

Speaking of fashion, I love Rooney Mara’s dress on the cover of Vogue. 😀

10 Themes Shared by Science Fiction and Historical Fiction
It explains a lot. 😉 [Link to article]

Also, Keith Thompson is ♥, and here’s proof:

Ronreads Interview: Junot Diaz
My friend Ron was very lucky to have interviewed Pulitzer prize winner Junot Diaz during the Manila International Literary Festival. He seems like such a fun guy to talk to (color me envious, Ron!), and I love that he’s taken the time to get to know the Philippines and the Filipinos. [Link to interview transcript]

Open Call for Submissions: “Horror: Fantastic Filipino Fiction for Young Adults”
Hit the link if you’re interested to submit something. [Link]

#bumperstickersforwriters
A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon this fun Twitter meme, #bumperstickersforwriters. Here are some of the funnier entries:
– “Support our tropes.” @3rdplacepress
– “I’m not lost; I’m procrastinating.” @katelhunter
– “I just killed someone.” @LisaDMartinez
– “Cut me off and I’ll break your fourth wall.” @IrisBlasi
– “It’s not cheating if he’s only an imaginary lover.” @EbonyMcKenna. I suppose this counts for the #bumperstickersforbookworms meme too, if ever one gets started. :p

Notable Children’s Books of 2011
The New York Times released their Notable Children’s Books of 2011 list a few days ago. Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone are on it! This makes me happy.

Other Stories:

Salvador Dali + Walt Disney = Destino
I just had to post this link because the short film that Dali and Disney collaborated on is made of pure awesomeness. You can spare 6+ minutes of your time to see it, right? 😉

Star Trek sequel: 17 May 2013
My Star Trek men in IMAX 3D. World, please don’t end in 2012. That is all. [Link to report + JJ Abrams is seriously considering casting Benicio del Toro]

I hate season breaks
The Vampire Diaries is on season break, so I’ve had to resort to re-watching the first 8 episodes of season 3 and some from the tail-end of season 2 (Klaus walks into a bar and confronts Damon and Alaric…) Sometimes news breaks the monotony: lo and behold, Ausiello comes through with a spoiler!

For the record, though, I see all the other characters as “somewhat less evil” than Klaus even if he is actually more complicated than just plain “evil.” So that description from the spoiler doesn’t really tell us much about Finn. The flashback occurring in the 1400’s, though, makes for more interesting Originals Speculation Fodder and also begs the question: is there a curse on the Petrova doppelgangers that has something to do with brothers falling all over or fighting over them? ;p I wonder if the writers will spin an Elijah vs. Finn angle on this one.

Enough rambling. It’s time to post a gratuitous photo of Klaus. Just because.

Please note that the caption should be read with Klaus' American accent from S03E01. :p | Image Source: The TVD Facebook App

Now, I’m gonna go open my media player and listen to some Coldplay while I work. 😉
 

I’ve “Fallen in Love” with the cover of Lauren Kate’s “Rapture”

 
It’s no secret that I’m quite invested in Lauren Kate‘s Fallen series, especially after being given the chance to interview her (twice), and to get a glimpse into the kind of work she puts into each of her novels.

One of the things that I love about the books is the striking book design and cover art. Brazilian artist Fernanda Brussi Gonçalves photographed and edited all of the cover images, and, if I’m not mistaken, she’s also the model in the photos.

Yesterday, Lauren revealed the cover art for Rapture, the conclusion of the Fallen series, which will be released on 12 June 2012.

I’ve always thought that we would finally see Luce’s face on the cover of the last book after that bit of a tease in Passion, but I like how this turned out. It feels right that Luce is wearing white (Rhyme on!) It also makes for a dramatic contrast with the darkness of Fallen, the sadness and isolation of Torment, and the colors of Passion. Together, the covers tell the story of Luce’s journey from darkness to enlightenment.

      

But before that, Lauren will also release Fallen in Love on 24 January 2012.

Unexpected. Unrequited. Forbidden. Eternal. Everyone has their own love story.

And in a twist of fate, four extraordinary love stories combine over the course of a romantic Valentine’s Day in Medieval England. Miles and Shelby find love where they least expect it. Roland learns a painful lesson about finding-and losing love. Arianne pays the price for a love so fierce it burns. And for the first -and last- time, Daniel and Luce will spend a night together like none other.

Lauren posted a chapter sampler from the Shelby/Miles story on her website: click! It’s super cute, especially if you like the idea of pairing up Shelby and Miles. (I do!)

In other book-related news:

– Rick Riordan announced that he will release the Kane Chronicles Survival Guide on 20 March 2012. “Fans of The Kane Chronicles series will adore this gorgeous primer on the people, places, gods, and creatures found in Rick Riordan’s #1 New York Times bestselling series. Boasting lenticulars, an easy-to-assemble trading card pyramid, and full-color diagrams and maps, this deluxe, lavishly illustrated guide teaches readers how to compile secret messages, read hieroglyphics, and recite ancient magic spells. Featuring enough information and extras to satisfy avid followers and budding Egyptologists alike, this guide will cast a spell on readers of all ages.” Looks like it’s the same concept as the Percy Jackson Ultimate Guide. This comes before the publication of the still untitled Kane Chronicles #3 on May 2012.

– Publisher’s Weekly recently posted their Best Books of 2011 list, and two of my favorites, The Scorpio Races and Daughter of Smoke and Bone are on it.

– Scholastic is going to release a bunch of movie tie-ins and companion books for The Hunger Games to mark the release of the film. May your fandom budget be ever in your favor!
 
 

“Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor

 
Daughter of Smoke and Bone Final Cover
Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Read Date: 11 September 2011
Goodreads Status Updates: None. I couldn’t stop reading long enough to go online and post status updates, but my favorite quotes are here.
Review in a nutshell: A fantastic new perspective on popular YA paranormal themes, with memorable characters brought to life by Laini Taylor’s evocative writing.
——————————————————————————————————————————————–

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 grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

 
This is my first Laini Taylor book, but I can already tell that she and I are going to have an enduring “I will buy every single book you write” kind of relationship.

Taylor turns the popular supernatural/Angel romance theme on its head in Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  In Taylor’s mythology, the Angels are not your usual supernatural beings from Heaven (although they still are winged, beautiful, and powerful); they’re flesh and blood creatures from another world, whose civilization is at war with “demons”–the Chimaera, creatures whose body parts are from several different animals.

The story delves deep into the long, violent history of these two races, but no matter who started the conflict, what stands out, for me, is how the line between good and evil blurs as both sides commit acts of war against each other.  Yes, we often associate Angels with the good side, but the Seraphim in this story are just as culpable as the Chimaera, and just as guilty of pride and prejudice.
 

It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry ‘Monster!’ and looked behind him.

 

The character at the center of this dark and grim backdrop is Karou, an art student in Prague whose only family are a group of Chimaera headed by a bull-headed “trader” named Brimstone.  She has no memory of her real parents or where she really came from; the only thing she knows is Brimstone raised her from infancy.

Karou exudes a certain otherworldliness–perhaps further amplified by the blue hair that grows out of her head that color–but remains grounded as a character because most readers will at least be able to sympathize with her loneliness and her quest to learn more about herself.  We may not experience everything that Karou does, but her emotions are easy to understand.
 

Karou wished she could be the kind of girl who was complete unto herself, comfortable in solitude, serene. But she wasn’t. She was lonely, and she feared the missingness within her as if it might expand and…cancel her. She craved a presence beside her, solid. Fingertips light at the nape of her neck and a voice meeting hers in the dark. Someone who would wait with an umbrella to walk her home in the rain, and smile like sunshine when he saw her coming. Who would dance with her on her balcony, keep his promises and know her secrets, and make a tiny world wherever he was, with just her and his arms and his whisper and her trust.

 

As if things weren’t complicated enough for Karou, she encounters Akiva, a Seraph who was sent to the human world on an important mission.  The Seraphim are capable of using glamour to hide their fiery wings, but you can still tell they are not of our world because their shadows show their true form and they are too “breath-stealingly beautiful” to be human.  

“Breath-stealingly beautiful”–Taylor’s words, not mine.  It was only when I read that that I realized just how important an author’s choice of words can be, because someone who can steal my breath away is vastly different from someone who can just take my breath away. Taylor’s prose is evocative and lyrical, and this is what makes the book something more than just a good story.

(Taylor’s description of Akiva evokes a non-traditional image of an angel in my mind.  No, wait, actually, he does not look angelic at all.  Truth be told, the image of Akiva that my mind conjures is the form that the devil will take if he wanted me to willingly follow him to hell. And so he joins Fitzwilliam Darcy in my list of Literary Boyfriends, which is probably TMI for you, but well, you did come here. 😛 )

It’s common in the genre that the supernatural character tends to be distant, aloof, and unreachable.  Case in point: Daniel Grigori in the first 2 books of Lauren Kate’s Fallen series, and even Edward Cullen, to a certain extent (and please don’t raise your eyebrows, okay?)  Well, they’re not human and the aloofness is expected, but I personally look for something in a character that I can connect with so that I can emotionally invest in the story and the romance aspect, in particular.  Taylor managed to provide that in how she wrote not only Akiva, but the Seraphim and Chimaera in general.

On hindsight, Taylor’s world and characters have less of the mystical supernatural flavor of Fallen; the book actually feels more like a Neil Gaiman urban fantasy.  And as with most good urban fantasy, the setting is a character in itself.  Here, Prague really comes alive, and I’m sure that if I’m lucky enough to visit it one day, I will recall Taylor’s words as I see it with my own eyes.
 

Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Mozart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theatre with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet.

 

Taylor takes great care in building her world and developing her characters, and despite there bring some slow sections, overall, she exerts good control over the pacing of the book. Her control even extends to the romance aspect, which was plausible and thrilling without being suffocating. The scale of the world and the overall arc is epic, but she maintains a feeling of intimacy between the reader and the characters and their personal stories.

[SPOILER WARNING: Don’t read this paragraph until you’ve read the book. I don’t spoil a plot point, but my reaction might give too much away.] There’s one scene, though, that disturbed me a little because I felt it almost bordered on bestiality. Okay, not exactly that; I think this is more about me thinking about the circumstances too much.  To Taylor’s credit, that scene was subtle and well-written, and it’s likely other readers won’t think twice about what happened. There’s just no getting around it because the Chimaera and the Seraphim are what they are, and the scene is needed to make a point. I immediately got over it, though. It’s not a deal-breaker at all for this book, it’s just a personal reaction that I felt I had to mention because I wanted to know how others reacted to that scene.  (If you read the book, please let me know in the Comments if this became an issue for you or not. :D) [END SPOILER]

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first in a new series by Taylor, who’s already written a handful of other works. She has a modest but dedicated following, but I think more people should read her books. So if you’re into paranormal romance or YA fantasy or if you’re a sucker for star-crossed lovers or maybe just looking for a different read, give this a try. Heck, even if you hate YA, you should give this a try! It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Here are the links to the lovely book trailers:
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Part 1: Main Trailer
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Part 2: Brimstone
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Part 3: Akiva (The illustrations of Akiva are… ♥♥♥)


This review, including the quotes featured therein, is based on an Advance Reader Copy provided by Hachette Book Group USA (Phils.)
U.S. Street Date: 27 September 2011

Other Reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Chris of Ficsation