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Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
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Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.Blue-haired seventeen year old, Karou, draws the most imaginative and otherworldly things when she's not sketching life models. But what her friends don't know is the magnificent creatures in her drawings are as real as the earth and sky. They're chimaera and the only family she's ever known. Between her ordinary life amongst humans, Karou visits people all over the world to collect teeth for the chimaera who raised her, Brimstone. Paris, Madrid, Egypt - she exits one door and finds herself across an entire continent. Karou has no idea why he needs the teeth (not for lack of asking), nor do his clients. They give him teeth of all origins in exchange for wishes. Karou's whole life feels like a mystery - she burns with questions and a need to know what it is she feels missing inside her. But then a young seraphim, enemy of the chimaera, sets his burning eyes on Karou and so the mystery deepens, love awakens and we're taken on a magical journey both dangerous and beautiful, that may fuel an ancient war or be the beacon of hope it so desperately needs.
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came.
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.
I adored the characters. Karou is a fantastic protagonist who captivated me throughout the entire novel. She's intelligent and witty and totally badass, yet she's not without her flaws and vulnerabilities. I love Zuzana! Please can she be my best friend? She had me laughing out loud so many times. And the exchange between her, Karou and Akiva in the teahouse was perfect. Brimstone was another fascinating character, he doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve, but you can see he deeply cares for Karou. And Akiva, oh Akiva. There is such depth and pain and beauty swirling behind those fiery eyes. He really broke my heart in certain scenes, they bled with raw intensity. I felt it. And it was painful.
The world building was absolutely incredible. Laini has clearly gone to great depths in crafting the lore and history. I was blown away by the sheer detail and the way those details came together to create something so utterly unique and imaginative. She brilliantly captured the timeless magic of Prague. I'm desperate to visit someday now! Her writing is nothing short of extraordinary, you want to savour every moment of it, but can't read fast enough. I had my suspicions about Karou as clues came to light. I was right in what I guessed, but I could never have imagined the magnitude of that secret. I only latched on to the sliver of the truth it held and when all was unveiled... wow.
This is quite possibly one of the best romances I've ever read. Akiva says in the book: Love is an element and I couldn't agree more. Laini has taken love to a whole new level and it's going to be hard not to compare every other romance I read to this. She made me feel every emotion that leaped off the page - the fluttering, the ache, the pounding of their hearts. I became so deeply rooted in their story, in their world, in their beautiful tragedy. Hello. Hellohellohello. The most romantic word ever breathed between lovers. At the end of chapter 55, I closed the book, hugged it close to my chest and let loose a deep, ridiculously happy sigh.
I finished this book drunk on the power of Laini Taylor's words. She took me to an entirely new dimension where other novels can only dream of sneaking glimpse of. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is an experience, not a story. There are books that tell a nice, fictitious tale and then there are those that drag every shred of your being into their pages and force an intimacy upon you. Every word of this book will knot itself around your emotions. It's life and death, magic and war, happiness and tragedy, and love - lovelovelove in all it's splendor and need and hope and pain.
This is by far one of my favourite reads of 2011. Heck, one of my favourite reads of all time. Laini Taylor, you are a god. I love you, I envy you, I demand you lock yourself away in a luxurious dungeon and spend every hour of your day writing, writing, writing so I can lose myself in a hundred more of your novels.