Before I start, I just want to make it clear that this is a review of the entire Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, Dreams of Gods and Monsters. It is kind of impossible to go over the series as a whole without mentioning spoilers so I’m going to have some brief, overall thoughts about the books and then I will give a warning when I’m going to go into spoilers. Please do be warned, this is NOT a spoiler free review. I highly recommend finishing the series and then coming back to this review because these books will not have the same impact if you know what happens going into them.
TW for this series: violence, mentions of torture, attempted rape
I was going to list out all of the books and include my ratings for each but I’m just going to cut to the chase because I gave all of them 5 stars. 100/10, 1,000,000%, this series is amazing.
So what I loved the most about this series is how immense the plot is. I mentioned in my review of the first book that this is primarily a war story above all its other themes. At least in my experience, books that involve a big battle usually either start right before the fighting, in the midst of it, or right after. The first book in this series lets you get nice and comfortable, thinking the conflict will be resolved right away. At the very end, you realize that the issue will not be so easily fixed and it will have a significant influence on many of our characters.
The second book is basically 500 pages of war preparations. It’s here that we realize this war is a huge deal and no matter how it ends, it will alter the nature of Eretz permanently for better or worse.
The last book is what we’ve all gathered around to see. Characters have long-spanning arcs that get resolved, the battle is fought and we get to see the consequences that it has. The final book ends weeks after the end of the battle and illustrates how the remaining characters have fared and what they plan to do going forward. All of this creates the sense of reality that I love so much in this story. Eretz feels like a real place where things are going to continue to happen long after we’ve put the book down.
Here’s why I like this series so much more than the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas which also features a large scale war: for one thing, DOSAB is more believable to me despite them both being fantasy stories. Characters can’t just
teleport winnow back and forth wherever they want to go. There is a price for using magic (tithing). Everything costs something in this book. You don’t get to make wishes for free. You don’t get to do magic as much as you want. Characters that have huge finisher-type moves in the story (in this case Akiva as opposed to Rhysand or Amren) suffer huge consequences for using them, consequences that have an affect on the entire world.
Another thing that this trilogy knocked out of the park (over ACOTAR and others) was the romance aspect.
**Here’s where I go into spoilers, continue to read at your own risk**
Akiva and Karou fall in love in the first book. Cute. I liked them both enough to want to see them together. And then they break the wishbone and everything is changed. Karou discovers that she has previously existed as the Kirin named Madrigal who fell in love with the angel Akiva and was executed for it. She discovers that this man who she’s loved in TWO separate lifetime’s has murdered her only family. She is heartbroken, betrayed, disgusted, and confused. Can you imagine having found your soulmate and then a second later discover that they’ve murdered your family?
So Karou makes the decision to abandon Akiva even though it hurts her. She just cannot understand how he could do this to her. She finds Thiago and begins her work as the resurrectionist for the Chimera army even though they all hate her and think she’s a traitor. She has no friends among them, no family left to speak of, and she does this grueling labor because she believes it’s the right thing to do.
Now, meanwhile, Akiva had killed Karou’s family because he believed that they were against her and he did what he thought was right in order to protect her. Obviously that was a bad call and he understands her decision. Can you imagine murdering the people you thought were behind your soulmate’s execution only to realize you were f*****g wrong? To realize that you had murdered in cold blood, the only family that person had left?
So Akiva returns to his siblings Liraz and Hazael in the hopes that he might be re-accepted among the Misbegotten army. You know, the army fighting a war that he’s entirely against? He decides that he’s going to actually do the right thing this time. He’s going to alter the course of this war from the inside out in the hopes that he might be able to repent for this horrible thing he has done.
It is not until the last page of the second book that Karou and Akiva can even contemplate the idea of patching things up between them. They realize that if they don’t come together, their revolution in Eretz will not succeed. Chimera and Seraphim will continue to take turns slaughtering each other endlessly until there is no one left to kill. So it’s this dream that is so much bigger than themselves that brings them back together and even then, it’s incredibly difficult.
What I’m getting at here is that this series isn’t like most where the love interests are definitely going to get together, and it’s just a matter of when. In these books, there is a very real possibility that damage has been done that can’t be undone and these people who could very well be soulmates will not ever be able to be together again.
In ACOTAR I was waiting for the moments when Feyre and Rhys would have a free moment to bang. Here, I freaking cried when Akiva and Karou first made eye contact again.
You get my point and this review is starting to get incredibly long (sorry) but just a few more things I want to mention before I close out here.
I think it’s so cool that you get to see a realistic Earth reaction to seeing fantastical things for the first time. Like when do you ever see that done well?
ALSO a woman of color who works a STEM profession ends up being the key to figuring out the entire universe basically? Freaking cool. I want more of that.