Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Hell Yeah! [Booky McBookNerd] [Book Week II]

For Book Week. I am reading a book by National Book Award finalist, Laini Taylor, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone has renewed my hope and faith in fiction.

It’s the story of Karou, an art student in Prague. Karou has just discovered that her first boyfriend, Kaz, cheated on her with a mutual acquaintance.  She has broken up with him, but he isn’t taking no for an answer. He shows up to her art class as, surprise, the nude model she has to sketch.

However, Karou was given a beaded necklace of wishes by her guardian, Brimstone. These beads represent the smallest available wishes, and with them Karou can make minor wishes. Some of her previous wishes have included the blue hair that flows straight from her scalp and the bushy eyebrows that she wished on a romantic rival — and in this case, Karou is so incensed that she uses her wishes to make her ex itch in some embarrassing places.

She straddles two worlds: the world of mortals and the world of wishes and chimera.

This book thrills me and I haven’t even read a quarter of it yet. Taylor spins an incredible otherworld full of women who are part snake and messengers who are part crow and part bat. This is the world of the chimera, creatures that appear to be the composites of several different types of animals. Brimstone sells wishes and he raised Karou.

“[His] arms and massive torso were the only human parts of him, though the tough flesh that covered them was more hide than skin. His square pectorals were riven with ancient scar tissue, one nipple entirely obliterated by it, and his shoulders and back were etched in more scars: a network of puckered white cross-hatchings. Below the waist he became else-thing. His haunches, covered in faded, off-gold fur, rippled with leonine muscle, but instead of the padded paws of a lion, they tapered to wicked, clawed feet that could have been either raptor or lizard—or perhaps, Karou fancied, dragon.” Pg. 39

Karou knows very little about her birth parents. She only knows that Brimstone raised her, made sure that she was an expert at hand to hand combat and that she now runs errands for him. She uses the network of doorways that lead from Brimstone’s shop to the outside world, to retrieve items from all over the globe.

This story reminds me of everything that I have ever loved about fantasy. There is an otherworld that only a privileged few know about, which  is stealthily hidden from the “real world.” It reminds me of The Neverending Story, a movie from 1984 where a boy gains access to another world through an enchanted book. I’m hooked on Taylor’s novel and I can’t wait to finish reading it.

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