A lot of you have read Laini Taylor, so you already know how amazing she is. This post is not for you. You're already hounding the clerks at Barnes and Noble, asking if the shipment has arrived, right? No? You must be checking your mailbox *again*.
I've read all of Laini Taylor's books- "Lips Touch, Three Times, "Blackbringer" and "Silksinger" from the Faeries of Dreamdark Series. I loved them all (though the Faeries of Dreamdark are written for a younger MG crowd) because of the beautiful writing, the creativity of the ideas, the twists and turns in the plot and the revelation after revelation of the characters' histories. Delicious.
In Daughter of Smoke and Bone, you have my perfect book. Except for the cover, which doesn't evoke any of the feeling of the book and is rather bland, I think. The mask is from a scene in the novel, so it's not totally crazy or anything, I just don't think it does justice to the story. Don't be fooled!
Karou is an art student in Prague, who claims with a wry smile that her hair comes out of her head peacock blue, that the half-beast, half-human figures in her drawing notebook are real. She's discovered that the truth, delivered with that teasing smile, will be hidden better than if she'd told a hundred lies. Because nobody hangs out with monsters and devils. They don't even exist, right?
But they do. Brimstone, a devilish creature part ram, human and something reptilian that Karou likes to think of as dragon, is the nearest thing she has to a family. In fact, her earliest memory is of playing with the tuft of his tail. But there's so much Brimstone won't tell her: where Karou came from, what Brimstone uses the teeth Karou gathers for, or what lies behind the locked door in his workroom. When she asks too many questions, she's patted on the head and shown back to the door that leads to the human world, returned there until the next time Brimstone hears of teeth for her to collect.
But one day Karou finds a handprint burned in that door, and the war that she wasn't told about is suddenly all too real when an angel holds a sword, ready to swing it at her neck. She fights and keeps her life, but she can't stop drawing the fearsome angel with the dead, burning-ember eyes. And she can't shake the feeling that she could make him smile.
I love this book.
Content: The characters are not perfect people. Um, most of them aren't actually people, anyway, but you know what I mean. The book opens with Karou regretting the closeness she shared with an exboyfriend. The monsters nor the angels have much use for chastity as an end, but they do believe in being true to their hearts. Brimstone warns Karou against taking inessential things into her body- ink, drugs, alcohol, and especially warns her against "inessential penises." It's not a lewd book, but neither are the characters saints. I'm not sure that I would hand Lips Touch or Daughter of Smoke and Bones to a young teen, but a major theme of the book is to wait for true love, and the power of hope that such love brings. Which message I really liked and appreciated.
I will be buying this book (release date Sept 24, 2011), and thanks to Around the World ARC tours for giving me the chance to preview it.