Monday, July 30, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Book 1

by Laini Taylor, 418 pages

Enrolled in a Prague art school, Karou sports a head of shockingly blue hair and some unusual tattoos.  She also leads a very atypical personal life (most teenagers don't live with a quartet of chimaeras, get paid in tiny wishes, and travel the world via magic portals in search of teeth).  She tells her mundane friends all about the doings of her family, but lets them believe it's just entertaining back-story to go along with the fantastical drawings in her sketchbooks.  She has her moments of loneliness, but she knows she's lucky to have friends, even if they don't really know her, and a family, even if they're secretive beings no one else would believe existed.  But then she meets an angel.  And the angel tries to kill her.  And all of Karou's lives start to unravel at the seams.

Ooh, and here I thought I was getting a little tired of YA fantasy series.  The world-building is creative, the plot pleasantly unpredictable, and Karou's a pretty cool lead in that she is not a passive heroine.  She makes decisions (not all of them wise, but then whose are?) and isn't afraid to be proactive.  Sure, the romance is a little sudden in its onset, but it turns out there's a reason for that.  Besides, when you're talking angels and demons and all-out war, you shouldn't be surprised if emotions run a little high, no?

If you enjoy Cassandra Clare's urban fantasy The Mortal Instruments and its prequel series but would like a heroine with a little more independence and grit, you might give this a shot.  Karou may be a teen, and she may even act like one on occasion when her heart's involved, but this could just as easily be an adult series.  I hope the next book comes out soon!

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