Hodder and Stoughton (2011)
Reviewed by Tehani Wessely
From the opening page of the book – “Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” – the tone of Daughter of Smoke and Bone is set. While at times dramatic and heart-wrenching, the storytelling always has an element of wry humour which is appealing and entirely readable, capturing the personality of the protagonist and engaging the reader completely.
Seventeen-year-old Karou lives an astonishing double life. A gifted artist, she attends art school by day, prowling the streets of Prague with her friends and enjoying the world at large. But there is so much more to Karou – raised by monsters, she owes everything to Brimstone and his dark underworld. As a human, she runs “errands” for him all over the world, collecting, of all things, teeth, for a use she doesn’t understand. It’s not always safe, but it is never dull. Eventually though, her dual worlds come unraveled, as Brimstone and her monster friends are torn violently from her. Karou does not understand why this terrible thing has happened, but she is determined to use all the resources she commands to find out.
One obstacle in her path is the strange, beautiful Akiva, inexplicably drawn to Karou despite knowing she is his enemy. What could he possibly want from this young, human girl? And could he somehow know something about her mysterious origins? Despite her desperation to find Brimstone, Karou cannot help wanting to know more about Akiva and what light he may be able to shed on her past. But could that be the downfall of them all?
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a beautifully written, compellingly powerful novel, one which draws you from page to page, chapter to chapter, with action and mystery and magic. It has immediately become one of my favourite books of the year, and my only complaint is that I now have to wait for the next book before I can visit with Karou and her strange world again. Highly recommended.