Friday, March 2, 2012

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

This book came highly recommended by Orson Scott Card, a wonderful author whose opinion I respect greatly. Taylor gets away completely from the typical urban fantasy, filled with vampires, werewolves, elves and magicians, and creates something rooted in Judeo-Christian and Islamic mythos, instead.

Karou is an orphan, raised by a small group of creatures called Chimaera, led by a mysterious father figure (to her) named Brimstone. Brimstone sends Karou on errands to collect teeth, human or animal, which he uses for some mysterious purpose which we don't get to understand until late in the story. The Chimaera have for centuries been at war with the Seraphim, angelic beings who, as we learn gradually, are not nearly so angelic as biblical tradition holds.

Karou makes her way to locations all over the world to meet with Brimstone's agents via a series of portals, which instantly transport her wherever she desires. When a group of Seraphim suddenly appear on the scene and destroy all the portals Karou is cut off from her adopted family, and tries to find another way to be reunited with them, and to understand the mystery of her past.

In an encounter with one of the Seraphim, Akiva, he is smitten by her beauty, and makes the slow decision to betray his own people for his infatuation with her. Karou is also attracted by his obvious beauty, and appears to be falling in love with the angel, as well.

The first third of this novel is delightful, as Taylor explores all of Karou's odd quirks that make her an endearing and unique character, and we come to know, as much as we can, the small group of Chimaera she calls her family. The last third of the book is also very inventive, and uses flashbacks from Akiva's past to explore the world of the Seraphim and their centuries long war with the Chimaera. Taylor unveils an entirely new mythology, complete with some amusing new tales of the origin of the races, and some interesting perspective on the true cost of wishes and magic. Unfortunately, and probably predictably for a young adult novel, the middle third of the book is devoted to the juvenile and angelic soul torments of possibly unrequited love, while very little seems to move the plot forward.

There appears to be a sequel in the works for this one, and it may be interesting to find out whether our young lovers are able to bridge the gap and end the war once and for all.

1 comment:

Six said...

Holy Maulk! Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment so I could find your site. It's fantastic though it's going to take me days just to peruse your past posts on interesting books. I'm looking forward to picking up some good stuff.
Thanks again!