Realms of an Open Mind

Forbidden romances. Dystopian worlds. Unimaginable creatures. Dark nightmares. Beautiful dreams. All within the Realms of an Open Mind.


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Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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 otherwordly 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?


She didn't understand, quite, but something was starting to take shape, out of magic and will. 
Smoke and bone.
I don't even know if I can begin to do this book justice. It turned me upside down, inside out, leaving me slack-jawed, dumbfounded, and a messy pile of conflicting emotions. 
Karou is an art student in Prague. She has a sharp-witted best friend and an egotistical ex-boyfriend and she runs errands for whom some would describe as the devil. She lives her life half in and out of normal, and as much as she tries, she can't find any middle ground. 
Karou was mysterious. She had no apparent family, she never talked about herself, and she was expert at evading questions -- for all that her friends knew of her background, she might have sprung whole from the head of Zeus.


For all she knows, that might be the truth. Karou is missing a vital piece, that element that would make her whole, but when you don't know what you're looking for, how do you find yourself?
It's not until she meets Akiva that she begins to glimpse who she might have been. Akiva is this gloriously beautiful angel with bright, tiger-like eyes and all the cold and bubbling turmoil to smolder behind them. He's intrigued by Karou; she stirs something that he's buried deep within himself, and she makes him remember. Not only that, but he seems to fill the emptiness Karou has felt her entire life.
As far back as she could remember, a phantom life had mocked her with its impenetrable "something else," but now it was the opposite. Here, in the circle of Akiva's presence, even as they spoke of war and siege and enduring enmity, she felt herself being drawn into the warm absoluteness and rightness of him, like he was both place and person and, contrary to all reason, exactly where she was supposed to be.

But as they become closer, Akiva makes an earth-shattering discovery that would alter Karou's world as she's known it, and could very well destroy his.

Laini Taylor has this writing style that, teamed up with her incredible imagination, creates an elegant and dark fairy tale where the monsters and the beautiful angels are not exactly what we'd believe them to be. Neither are evil, neither are good; they are of the same minds, opposing forces in a centuries long war.

This conjured world in The Daughter of Smoke and Bone is anything but one dimensional. Taylor has the challenge of not only making our world believable, but describing a setting unlike any other where the sun chases the moons and creatures like lizard-moths or jackal-cats exist. It's gorgeously written, and I'm really having a hard time putting how I feel about this book into words that will do it justice. My copy is filled with pages in which the corners are folded, marking a quote or an idea that struck me. This book is overflowing with them.

Karou's and Akiva's relationship ... *takes a huge breath* ... How can love really get any more beautiful and heartbreaking than that? The pieces are slowly brought together, hint by hint, moment by moment, and when you realize the truth, you can't tell if you're surprised or if Laini Taylor had you in on the secret all along; you just couldn't recognize it in the bits and pieces she presents it in until she makes it whole.

This story isn't really about monsters and angels. It goes so much deeper than that. Forbidden love... Treason... War... Bigotry... Peace... Magic...  the idea that two people can make the world a better place.

War is all we've been taught, but there are other ways to live. We can find them... We can invent them. This is the beginning, here.

And most of all, this story is about hope. 

Hope makes its own magic.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is absolutely my favorite read this year. It took my breath away, and I'm really having a hard time picking up anything else. Its wrapped me in a haze, and I haven't been able to shake myself out of it, though I'm not sure I want to.

I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

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