Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: 9/27/11
Publisher: Little Brown
Blurb (GR): Around the world, black handprints 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 grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly 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 one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored 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?
When I first heard the details of the premise of Laini Taylor's new book, for a moment I thought Laini must have read my review of Personal Demons. In that review I rant about how great story ideas are squandered away. You see, Personal Demons had a very interesting concept - a demon and an angel battling for the soul of a human girl. There are so many creative opportunities in the angel/demon lore, I thought surely the author would make something good out of it. I was wrong then - the story turned out to be nothing more than a cliche angsty love triangle extravaganza. But I am right now. Laini Taylor took a similar angel/demon idea and transformed it into pure magic.
Karou is a 17-year old art student. She lives in Prague, paints and goes to school. She is trying to get over her good-for-nothing ex-boyfriend. But there is an air of mystery about Karou. She knows magic. She has a secret life. Karou is an orphan who was raised lovingly by a foursome of demonic creatures. She occasionally runs strange errands for them; and on one of the trips she is confronted by an angelic-looking Akiva who attempts to kill her.
What happens next is best described by the book's own first lines:
Once upon a time,
an angel and a devil fell in love.
It did not end well.
There is nothing cliche about this story, trust me. Laini Taylor is a writer with talent and extraordinary imagination. What I loved the most about Daughter of Smoke and Bone was the world behind it. We all have read our measure of angel books and you will probably agree with me that the portrayal of angels in them rarely goes beyond wings, sexiness and some dark secret behind the "fall." But what if angels and demons are not what is traditionally/biblically accepted? What if you could get into the midst of their world, learn about their cultures, gain knowledge about their centuries-long war? What if the love between an angel and demon is forbidden and a taboo (maybe even by human standards)? Would you like to read about that? I bet you would.
Lips Touch: Three Times is one of my most favorite books ever. If you liked those stories, I doubt Daughter of Smoke and Bone will disappoint you. This novel is equally dark, sensual, unsettling and a little twisted. The imagery is stunning. The language is beautiful, every word matters (there were a couple of slips into overwritten, I must say, but only a couple). And the love... well, it pushes boundaries, it transcends time and space.