Daughter of Smoke and Bone (DOSAB #1) – Laini Taylor
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
I seem to be on a re-reading kick at the moment (and I’m not complaining!). This book was just as good as I remember it with such beautifully crafted characters through some incredible writing. Laini Taylor most definitely knows how to make a dull scene interesting. Great for anyone who is looking for an introduction to the fantasy genre and for those who really appreciate good writing.
DOSAB is about a teenage girl called Karou. She leads a fairly normal life; lives in Prague, goes to school, has a great relationship with her bestfriend Zuzana and a pretty rocky relationship with her ex-boyfriend Kazimir. Nothing seemingly unusual, right? Well, that is really only half the story. Karou also secretly pursues another life which consists of entering portals all around the world, stealing teeth for her employer/adoptive father, Brimstone. And Brimstone is no ordinary being either. He’s a monstrous creature, as is everyone in Elsewhere. Their appearance so obscure that Karou’s illustrations of them are deemed merely a reflection of her astounding imagination when, in reality, she only draws what she truly sees. Karou has no recollection of the past, she carries out her duties, no questions asked. But when the portals to Elsewhere are all closed off, leaving her completely alone, she wonders if maybe she’s left it too late.
The wonderful thing about DOSAB is that the world is made up of humans, known fictional creatures (e.g. angels) and unknown fictional creatures (like Brimstone and his companion, Issa). We get to discover more about Elsewhere with Karou as she begins to understand why she lives the way she does. And I mean, at its core, the book is a forbidden love story. But it’s so much more than that! With the elaborate characters, creatures and world, the romance element is only a minor aspect. And actually, the relationship that Karou forms is one that I really root for, it’s one that seems so raw and passionate once Karou becomes in-the-know about her past.
I’ve spoken a lot about how well thought-out the characters are because, indeed, they truly are. Taylor gives such vivid descriptions which help to form such vivid images too. I can just image Karou’s bright blue hair, hamsas (eyes) on the two palms of her hands and Zuzana too, with her petite frame and young face. Zuzana is, by far, my favourite character. She sticks by Karou despite sometimes leaving her for days, weeks even months at a time while she carries out her duties for Brimstone with no hint of resentment. Zuzana is charismatic and loyal and I love how her language/manner of speaking is communicated with Karou. I think it’s sometimes difficult to forget with YA books that we’re following teenagers. Sometimes the protagonists act in a very mature way (like in here, for example) or in an erratic, immature way that is perhaps more characteristically for a younger character so it’s nice to witness realistic exchanges between two teenage girls.
Anyway, to summarise my very wordy review, I’d definitely recommend you go out and buy this book (even if the cover alone!). But in all seriousness, the words inside are even more beautiful than what’s on the outside and I think Laini Taylor did really well at crafting what is arguably quite a slow-pace plot in a stunningly, enticing way. Such a fantastic book that will leave you wanting to grab the next one straight away (and I did exactly that!)