review by Nalini Haynes
Daughter of Smoke and Bone introduces Karou, a teenager studying art at a college in Prague. Her unconventional family are chimaera, called demons by some, who send her on errands to collect teeth. Brimstone, Karou’s father-figure, is somewhat gruff and distant, often critical of Karou’s choices and conduct, without explanation. Karou runs into vampires as she wanders around Prague but, in a refreshing twist, these are humans dressed up to scare tourists for entertainment. Akiva is an angel, come to Earth on a mission completely unrelated to Karou, but when he sees Karou he is inexplicably drawn to her.
I can’t say much more about the story without spoiling some of the twists and turns for the reader, but what I can say is this: the characters have surprising depth, shades of grey being the order of the day rather than the black and white that can prevail in angel and demon stories. Taylor’s prose is lyrical, her descriptions of Prague are a love song. If for no other reason, read Daughter of Smoke and Bone for the prose. There is an element of romance in this novel, but it neither follows genre patterns nor is it predictable. Daughter will probably be marketed in the Young Adult section, but Daughter is so much more than ‘just’ young adult.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is brilliant Read it if you enjoy superlative prose, complex characters, surprising plots and fantasy that raises the bar. Not as dark as A Song of Ice and Fire, Daughter will appeal to fans of Trudi Canavan and Jennifer Fallon.
Originally published in Dark Matter issue 5, September 2011, this review has been pre-dated on this website to reflect the original publication date.