Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (NY: Little, Brown, 2011).

Karou is an art student in Prague who draws fantastic beasts which her friends assume roam in her imagination.  Wrong.  They're her family, at least her foster family, and they're all she has aside from her best friend Zuzana. Her principal guardian is Brimstone, a monstrous wishmonger who buys teeth from all over the world. Karou has been running teeth buying errands for him since she was a child, slipping in and out of the secret doors that open from his workshop to almost anywhere in an instant.  But something is happening.  The supply of teeth is dwindling, and black handprints are appearing on the secret doors. Karou wants to know what's going on, but Brimstone won't tell her--and then she meets Akiva, a haunted, beautiful angel, and her world literally explodes.

Taylor builds an amazing world, and Karou is a respectably complex character, the mystery of whose origins puzzles herself and the reader for most of the novel.  The romance between her and Akiva plays out well, but a little oddly, not surprising given that she doesn't know what she is (probably not human) and he's...what he is.  On the plus side, the angel lore doesn't overwhelm the story, and the war between the two worlds is layed out clearly. Prague makes a perfect setting--real, yet magical and steeped in ancient potential. Recommended for ages 13 & up.  Sexual situations, intense situations, violence.

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