Karou is a mysterious girl to put it lightly. Her blue hair appears to grow naturally out of her head. She has a number of tattoos, the most striking of which are the unblinking eyes on the palms of her hands. She attends an art school in Prague where she shows her best friend Zuzana her sketchbooks filled with fantastical drawings of monster-human hybrids. They all have names like Issa, Yasri, Kishmish, and Brimstone and Karou refers to them as if they’re family. As if they’re real.
“How do you make this stuff up, maniac?” Zuzana asked, all jealous wonderment.
“Who says I do? I keep telling you, it’s all real.” (p. 9)
This book. Wow, this book. I packed it with a couple of other books I was taking with me on my cruise back in June. Just some light beach reading, I thought. I hadn’t really heard anything about this story besides the fact that the same author was getting pretty popular for her recent release, Strange the Dreamer. The cover of my copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone is nothing to write home about. I didn’t have any expectations at all. Just a light beach read for the cruise.
Fast forward to me sitting on the beach of Bermuda, sand as soft as sin and water clear as the sky, and I’m sobbing into this book feeling like my own world was ending.
This book is many things, but a light beach read it is not.
I enjoy YA books for a number of reasons but in all honesty I’ve never expected as much out of them as I would adult fiction. YA stories tend to be a little less complex and a little more disposable. That’s not to say I don’t have fun reading them, because I do, it’s just that I get more out of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go thematically than I do out of Twilight. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not like other YA I’ve read so far and that makes me so excited so see what else I was mistaken about regarding this genre. This book has such a complex plot and themes that are incredibly mature. There is romance and fantasy in the book but what it’s mostly about is war. It’s about family, and loss, and sacrifice.
The twist at the end of this book shook me to my core. I thought I was going to have a legitimate anxiety attack and I was so thankful that I’d purchased this series as a box set so I’d be able to get right into the sequel as soon as I got home. I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I had read this when it was first released and then had to have waited months for the next book to come out. Like I’ve never felt so distraught reading a young adult fantasy.
That being said, I LOVED this book. I would dream about it when I went to bed and then I’d spend all day thinking about it.
In most fantasy stories there’s the whole suspension of disbelief deal because obviously dragons aren’t real and knights haven’t been around for hundreds of years. Here though, despite all of the fantastical events and elements (and there are a lot of them) I wholeheartedly believed in them.
I don’t want this review to become overlong, and there’s more I’ll be able to say when I do the review for the rest of the series as a whole so I’m going to end this here. All I ask is that you try this book out, if any part of it even kind of appeals to you. I think you might be surprised by what you find within these pages.