Audiobook Reviews · YA Book Reviews

Audiobook Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I want to start getting back into audiobook reviews, now that I’m traveling more and listening to them frequently as I drive. This audiobook is read by Khristine Hvam, who reads this entire series as well as the audiobooks for The Iron Fey series. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is truly one of the most unique books I’ve read, imaginative and poignant in a similar way to The Night Circus with the captivating imagery and twisting, turning plotline. And yes, I did dye my hair blue after I read this. It was fantastic.

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

What I loved: The imagery. There are scenes in superhero movies all the time where we break away from the main characters (and villains) to watch as the Big Cloud of Evil spreads over the city. Regular people look up and watch, get out of cars, put down their newspapers and walk out into the street, all of that noise. This book is filled with that same sensation that makes you feel insignificant and small when beholding something otherworldly. I think this is the reason I like Akiva so much: instead of being your stereotypical dreamy angel boyfriend, he is met with a lot of fear and apprehension (and rightfully so, because he’s a pretty scary bastard!) instead of instalove. Yes, he is still described as being super incredibly beautiful, but in the same way that someone describes a wild panther or an oncoming storm. It’s arresting, and heart stopping, and you know from the minute it meets your eyes that it will kill you.

While the book does have its fair share of predictable moments, there are more than a few specific scenes that completely had me catching my breath. Zuzana was an absolute scene-stealer. Rather than keep Karou’s normal human life to the background in favor of focusing on the magic and monsters, Taylor effortlessly intermingles the ordinary with the fantastical to create a haunting, picturesque undercurrent that rises up unpredictably to add a new layer of depth to the story. My favorite instance of this happening was Zuzana’s puppet show on the Charles Bridge. It had been hinted at during other important events that furthered the plot along, and didn’t seem like anything more than a background detail until it actually unfolded like the beginning of a ballet. Moments like these grounded the book in a truly exceptional and enchanting way.

What I highly dislikedTHE ENDINGYou know that scene in The Prince of Egypt, where Moses is trying to seek comfort from his father during his identity crisis (“All I Ever Wanted”) and it ends with Pharaoh saying “They were only slaves…”

No? Okay, here’s the gif. I know it’s a meme. It’s how I felt about the ending to this book.

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I’m a nice person, so I won’t spoil the ending for anyone, BUT IT’S COMPLETE AND TOTAL CRAP. I felt insulted that Akiva would even THINK it’s okay to show his face to Karou after what he did, and the complete and utter betrayal is really not my ideal way to set up the next book. Honestly, it pretty much ruined the next book for me, because I was still reeling from the shock that Days of Blood and Starlight did not really address in a deep or meaningful way. All that backstory? Incredible! Character development? Really well done! But dammit, talk about crushing my dreams inside!

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Overall: It’s interesting, captivating, and definitely unique, and I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook version, as Khristine’s voice lends herself fittingly with the tone and descriptive nature of the book. If you haven’t read it already, I would recommend giving this one a go.

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