Saturday, May 5, 2012

Reading Reflection: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1)
by Laini Taylor
Published 27th 2011
P. 432
Rating: 5/5

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?

I have to admit, after a few pages in this book I was utterly confused.  Karou, the female lead, was baffling.  The book starts off with her natural bright blue hair, her mastery of languages, a charismatic ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, the beautiful city of Prague -- not so confusing, but then...

Karou is an artist and the first few pages refers to her skill, specifically her notebooks filled with pictures of creatures with names, personas, and little anecdotes.  Kishmish, Issa, Twiga, Yasri, and Brimstone -- made up of different animal and human parts -- all creations of her mind.  Or so I thought, even when she says she spends time with them I thought it meant like the time I spent with characters in a book.  No not so much, they really existed.

That's when I was confused, but intrigued with the storyline.  I already liked Karou and her attitude, but things just kept getting more and more bizarre without warning.  She has a necklace that grants small wishes, her drawings are not imaginary, and then a bizarre bird/messenger Kishmish sends her a message while she's in the middle of dinner with her best friend Zuzanna.

And it gets even stranger...

Brimstone is a real creature, who works in a magically hidden workshop and sends Karou on various missions to collect... teeth.  Yes, teeth.  Brimstone and these other creatures have raised Karou her entire life and she knows next to nothing about them.  She loves them, they really are her family, but their entire existence is shrouded in such mystery that it's impossible to fully understand what is going on.  It also adds to the mystery of Karou, she barely knows anything about them, but she also knows less about herself.  She doesn't know where she came from, or how she came to belong to this group.

Now enter Akiva, an unemotional, but of course gorgeous angel-type.  He and his kind have been marking all the doors leading to Brimstones lair.  Why?  Who knows?  Karou doesn't, but she faces him during one of her teeth finding missions.  Apparently, they are not on the same side.  Karou doesn't know why, she's clueless to all this alternate life that goes on around her, but the mysterious tattoos on her palms save her from this battle... another mystery.  Akiva seems confused by her tattoos as well, but he knows their meaning.  From that point on Akiva is drawn to her, but can't explain why.

Now the entire book seems very unclear and confusing.  It's filled with this partially explained otherness surrounding Karou, but without clear definitive answers.  That's the magic of the book.  She knows nothing about her life, nothing, and all these events leave the reader fully aware of this fact.  Then bam... it's a story inside a story.  All of a sudden all these secrets are revealed.  That's when I fell in love with the book.  Everything made sense.  All the confusion turned into an unexpected fairy tale. 

This was a great book, magically written and I cannot wait for the next one to come out. 

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