Author Laini Taylor
First in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series
I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a few months now after I read a glowing review from Emily May on Goodreads. I wasn’t disappointed but I wasn’t blown away either. More in the, enjoyed it enough to read excitedly through to the end but am not jumping up and down to read the next in the series.
We meet Karou, our female protagonist, presumedly Caucasian with blue hair enroute to an art class in Prague. She’s tormented by her irritating and over-confident ex-boyfriend, we’re also introduced to her wildfire best friend and mysterious/otherworldly family, headed by Brimstone. There is some secret keeping on the part of Karou’s family around her background and how exactly she came to be in their care. The perspective shifts to Akiva, male angel (of sorts) who is anti Karou’s semi-monster family and set on causing them harm. The story shifts gear into a Karou v Akiva situation, the back story between the two as well as their respective types of monster (yep, angels are also a type of other in this world) form the crux of the world.
Essentially a love story wrapped up in a pseudo Romeo & Juliet-esque skin that entertains, engages and maintains a steady, serious pace. I enjoyed the tone and subtle humour in parts; Karou and her actions seemed reasonable and expected. I loved the snippets of story that takes place in the other world, the one where Brimstone was from, reading much like the build up of a dark fairytale, the story was grounded well. The backstory itself I’ve read many types before but the telling does offer something new and my attention was held.
My problem and lack of eagerness for the consequent books lies in the lack of depth I felt overall. Akiva’s character was very dark (figuratively) and mysterious, self loathing and fanastical but he felt 2D most of the time. I can’t tell if that was deliberate or not. This is entirely personal but I struggle with stories that need grand, all encompassing acts to move the plot forward. You know, an explosion which leads to a fight which leads to a death, which leads to a revelation and then again to an explosion. I just don’t have that kind of energy, in fact some of my favourite parts of this story was the conversation and interaction between our characters. Where the character is explored and their motivations given some attention.
Read it for the sidekick characters, they were interesting and funny; Karou didn’t entirely win me over but she did keep me reading.