Ok, so it’s super unfair to call this Angels and Demons, part deux because Ms. Taylor is leagues ahead of Mr. Brown in the quality of writing department but there are angels and demons who battle in the book. Plus, I can’t resist a cheap joke. Anyway here’s the setup for Daughter of Smoke and Bone:
Karou is a mystery to all whom she encounters; even to herself. An art student in the beautiful and haunting city of Prague, she runs errands for the chimaera, a race of human and animal hybrids. All are different: some with a bull’s head or a snake’s body, or the neck of a giraffe and bat wings. Karou magically travels the world retrieving teeth, both human and animal, for her surrogate father Brimstone (ram’s head, human torso, lion legs = scary) who uses the teeth for mysterious and strange purposes. On one such trip she encounters an angel, Akiva, and when he tries to kill her Karou learns that the angels and chimaera have been in war for hundreds of years. Still unsure of who she really is Karou begins learning the truth of her life through the eyes of both chimaera and angel. The angel Akiva captivates her and she finds herself falling for him, against all better judgment.
I really liked this series kick off – though, I must admit, if I had known this was going to be a series, I probably wouldn’t have read it. I would have read it eventually but I like to read them all in a week or something and become totally immersed in the world all the way through. I did it with Harry Potter and the Hunger Games and countless other series and/or sequels. To me there are two kinds of series: To Be Continued series (TBC) and On And Off series (OAO). In a TBC series you HAVE to read all the books back to back or you have to re-read them or you’ll probably go crazy. An OAO series book like the Chronicles of Narnia, you don’t necessarily have to read all in the row. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is definitely a TBC series. I liked it but there’s nothing sadder than getting 2/3 of the way through a book and having that sinking realization that the story is not going to resolve in the remaining 100 pages. Bummer.
Karou is a really interesting character. She definitely has MPDG tendencies, but for some reason they work for her. Taylor does a nice of job of presenting her quirkiness as a result of her strange past, so it works. Also, you can really feel for both sides of the conflict, both angel and chimaera. I empathized with the chimaera more, but the angels aren’t totally evil. Or maybe that’s just because Akiva is a hottie. (Side note: Angel hotties with smoldering eyes are better than sparkly vampire. It’s a proven fact.) Who knows.
This is much more than your average teen paranormal romance – there is a lot more riding on it. It’s a great story, a lovely setting of enchanting Prague, and there is gravitas in the storytelling. I will definitely read the next books in the series.