Daughter of Smoke & Bone Trilogy – Book review

It’s only because of my fabulous book-recommending genius of a friend, Tallulah, that I even glanced in the direction of Daughter of Smoke & Bone. The Smoke & Bone covers do nothing for me. In fact, if I’m being totally honest, I despise these covers. Tallulah compares the different covers over on her blog, if you want to check out how gorgeous these babies can look.

The point of the above rambling is that there’s SO MUCH TRUTH in the old saying. Don’t judge a book by its cover. For underneath, a masterpiece may hide.

And that, my friends, is the case with Daughter of Smoke & Bone.

Spoiler notice incoming. *** This post will contain major spoilers. I have HUGE FEELINGS about the last book, and will rant about that today. *** End of spoiler notice.

Book 1

The Blurb

Around the world, black hand prints 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 grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly 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 beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery 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?

My Thoughts

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is one of those books that will stay with me forever. Laini Taylor’s almost superhuman ability to set the scene is gush-worthy, and just for that, the book deserves five stars, IMO. I’ve never been to Prague, except when this book turned out to be a portkey that delivered me there.

The characters are interesting and wonderfully flawed. I love Karou and Akiva, but Zuzanna is by far my favourite character. This little puppeteer is everything.

As for the story, the concept is fabulous. Here we have chimaera and seraphim fighting a never-ending war, with loads of bloodshed and hatred and prejudice, and yet, somehow, a chimaera and seraph fall in love.

The way Karou’s origin story unfolds is fantastic, with just a little more every few pages, until the big revelation hits around the end and you’re shaking the book trying to squeeze out more information.

This book is that good.

This was the easiest 5-star read for me in 2019, and I immediately became one of Laini Taylor’s biggest fans because of it.

Book 2

The Blurb

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

My Thoughts

This is where it gets interesting.

You see, many of my bookish friends simply hated Days of Blood & Starlight. Some had heard so many bad things that they were afraid to read this book, lest it destroy the impact of Book 1. For this reason, I was kind of scared to read it too.

I went into it carefully, half-expecting to be turned off and add it to my Did Not Finish shelf.

But I loved this book. It’s grittier than the first, make no mistake. There’s a quiet darkness about the task set to Karou–rebuilding the chimaera army. Now that Brimstone is gone, who else could claim the role of resurrectionist? And the fact that it hurts Karou to do this thing is what sets this novel apart.

And if her physical suffering isn’t enough, there’s the emotional strain. Karou is afraid and isolated between these monsters, constantly watched by her former enemy. She’s heartbroken and doesn’t fit in, not quite human, not quite chimaera. This sense of loneliness really spoke to me. As an immigrant to a country where I was unable to speak the local language, I understand not fitting in.

And I think Ms Taylor nailed those feelings. The way she brought Karou’s suffering to life is the mark of a master storyteller.

Additionally, book 2 made favourite characters out of the rest of the cast. I loved Karou and Akiva more than I did in Book 1 (but especially Karou), Liraz pops off the page, Ziri just about takes the cake, Hazael–I don’t even have words here–my poor Hazael, and of course, Zuzanna shows once again why she’s awesome. These people are real, all of them have dimension, and their stories made the overall story.

Another very easy 5-star read.

Book 3

The Blurb

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited – not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as – from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond – humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

My Thoughts

And then there’s this book.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters starts on a note that had me constantly smiling. Constantly. I was so eager to see how they avenged Hazael’s death, and I couldn’t wait to reach the end.

Jael is this enormous threat that just keeps building and building throughout books 1&2. Now, he’s on earth, and everybody except the stupid humans are afraid. Liraz is MURDEROUS, as she bloody well should be, and the anticipation of that final meeting between her and Hazael’s killer has you turning pages, despite the late, late hour. You have to know what happens next.

Then they kind of blackmail Jael into leaving, and that’s that. This has got to be one of the most underwhelming plot resolutions I’ve ever come across.

And, as if that’s not weird enough, there’s this random plot that pops up in this last novel, and only really gets going in the last hundred or so pages. And is also not resolved very well.

Of course, this is clearly just in my opinion, and I’m certain many others will feel quite differently than I do. For me, Dreams of Gods & Monsters didn’t scratch the itch at all.

Despite that, I still gave this book 4 stars. Why? Well, Laini Taylor.

Friends, this lady can WRITE. The way she paints the picture is just fantastic, and even if I didn’t like the end, nothing can take away from the incredible skill with which she spun this story.

Considering everything, this trilogy is still epic, and I’d recommend it to lovers of speculative fiction any day.

Thanks for reading.

Yolandie

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