(Warning: This post contains mild spoilers.)
The first two books in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy blew me away. I get up really early for work. 5:45 AM early (which is especially painful if, like me, you are not a morning person). I am pretty adamant about getting to bed at a decent time. It is never after 11. But Laini Taylor made me stay up well past midnight on more than one occasion. I just have to finish this chapter. Ach, I just have to know what happens, I’ll finish this one, then go to bed. Oh no, that did not just happen!! I tore through those books like a tornado through Kansas.
Immediately, I put the third and final book on hold at the library. Even before it had been released. I checked back almost every day to see whether or not my position in the hold queue had moved. It was positively crawling, and I was nearly crawling out of my skin in antsy anticipation. More than once, I talked myself out of buying it. But last week, I caved. Bryan and I were in Edmonton for Everything Edmonton, killing time in the Whyte Ave Chapters, and there it was, and I absolutely had to have it. So it came home with us.
In the beginning, Karou is a normal girl, living in Prague, going to art school. Except that her family is comprised of chimaeric demons who live in a magical in-between place and frequently require her to go on missions abroad in order to gather…teeth. This is only one of the mysteries that plagues Karou’s life, however. She constantly feels incomplete, like there is a large aspect of herself that is missing, a hole that has been hollowed out inside of her and she doesn’t know how to fill it. When she encounters an incredibly beautiful angel who seems hellbent on killing her, all of the threads holding her life together begin to unravel, and there are worlds she never knew about, and a history that she could never have imagined, where angels and chimaera have been waging a thousand-year-long battle that she herself was a part of, and that she finds herself sucked into once more.
The first book is a heartrending, jewel-bright love story that ends with a knife twisted in the gut. The second is a barren wasteland of despair interspersed with glittering threads of delicate, almost impossible hope. And the third is a slow burn building to a breathtaking finale that, while not the explosive finish I envisioned, seemed fitting and right nonetheless.
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is peopled with incredible, awful, good, complex characters. None of them are black and white, and many of them are women. Liraz, in particular, intrigued, frustrated, and charmed me. There is love, to be sure, but there is love of all sorts. The love between Karou and Akiva, chimaera and angel, may be the nexus around which the story centers, but there are other loves that are equally important: Mik and Zuzana, Karou and Zuzana, Karou and Brimstone, Akiva and Liraz and Hazael, and on and on. The trilogy is not particularly longer than any other trilogy, but it feels like it contains magnitudes where others do not. It is deliriously plotted, with twists that had me gasping for breath and hurtling on to the next page, the next chapter, the next book. Taylor’s prose is delicious and layered, meaning upon meaning upon meaning, forever and ever and down further than you think it could go. I cannot wait to read them again, to start picking up on the myriad things that I surely missed.
All of this to say: Karou’s story is one that captivated me, took me hostage and accepted no ransom. If you like a good story, regardless of whether you are a fantasy fan, or a young adult fiction fan, or whatever kind of fan you are, these books are undoubtedly for you.
Go forth and read them.