“Once upon a time,
an angel and a demon fell in love. It did not end well.”No, it did not. Sigh.Laini Taylor is incredibly talented. This is the first time I've ever read her, and I was blown away by the power and elegance of her words and the beauty of her storytelling. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is lush, rich with symbolism without feeling heavy with the effort to be so; each phrase felt effortless.Karou's story is many layered and endlessly fascinating. I loved her from beginning to end. She is one of those characters who come alive off the page, three dimensional and multi-faceted and you know her and love her even when she doesn't know herself. I felt bonded to her almost instantly, as though recognizing an old friend.The love story between Karou and Akiva had a kind of sharp-edged beauty to it. At first it felt too much like inexplicable insta-love (just add electrifying fingers!) that permeates YA, but as their story unfolded and I knew the why of their connection, it grabbed my heart in its fist like nothing else--but just when I began to embrace it, it made me bleed. Sigh. The world within a world Taylor has crafted is complex, but also so simple. And while I think there's definitely a comment on our current world-state buried in the subtext, it didn't feel overdone or as though this was intended to be a story with a message.The only thing that kept Daughter of Smoke and Bone from being five stars was the pacing, and even so I wish there was a way to give it 4.5 or 4.75 stars. Nearly all the questions I'd asked myself--and Karou had asked herself--for three hundred pages were answered in the last hundred of the book, and as soon as they were, the tone shifted and became something altogether different... and then it ended. I felt as though I'd worked for something all throughout the book, only to hold it for a moment and feel the power of it before it's crushed to dust before my eyes.That might seem dramatic, but such is the power of Laini Taylor's storytelling. I didn't know this was the first in a series, and if I had I think I would have read it differently--not been so surprised with the way it ended. I don't consider this an indictment against Taylor or the story itself; I feel sure the next in the series will be equally as rich and fascinating and I cannot wait until I can get my hands on it. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is released in September, and I'd urge everyone to pick it up, even if the summary does not seem like your cup of tea. It's so much more than anyone can explain in a few sentences, more than this rambling review can illustrate. It's the kind of story--like the classic, epic fantasies before it--that is meant to be enjoyed by many, and for many years to come.