Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor

Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Call number: Y Taylor
Book released September, 2011

“Wishes are not for foolery, child.”
“Well, what do you use them for?”
“Nothing,” he said. “I do not wish.”
What?” It had astonished her. “Never?” All that magic at his fingertips! “But you could have anything you wanted—“
“Not anything. There are things bigger than any wish.”
“Like what?”
“Most things that matter.”

Summary: Karou has always been aware of the power of wishes, growing up as she did in the Wishmonger Brimstone’s shop, learning his trade: the bartering of teeth – all kinds of teeth, from all manner of creatures – for wishes. Brimstone is a chimaera, what humans would call a monster, a devil, but to Karou he and his associates — Issa, Yasri, Twiga, and Kishmish — are her only family; he raised her after finding her abandoned as a baby. Now a talented art student in Prague and living in her own apartment, Karou’s had a ready supply of small wishes at her disposal since childhood, wishes she’s used to give herself blue hair and tattoos, erase pimples, and take small but hilarious revenge on a cheating ex-boyfriend. To earn her wishes, Karou runs errands for Brimstone, using the door in his shop, which exists Elsewhere and can open all around the world, to visit tooth traders: poachers, grave robbers, murderers, and worse. No one knows better than she the terrible, desperate things people will do for their heart’s desire. Even though Brimstone is always trying to impress upon Karou the importance of using her wishes for good, not on petty or frivolous matters, she finds his concerns unfounded, since the people he trades with are the dregs of humanity. Of course she is better than them. What she doesn’t know is what the teeth are for, and how they power the wishes she takes for granted. Still, she’s been raised to this mysterious, magical life, and she’ll fight to protect it when mysterious black hand-prints begin appearing on the human side of all of Brimstone’s doors, left there by creatures even Brimstone seems to fear: angels. Her first meeting with the angel Akiva doesn’t go well – he tries to kill her, and she reciprocates, with swords – but they eventually acknowledge their mutual intense curiosity about each other and begin to perceive each other as something other than Enemy.

My Thoughts: This full-length novel by Laini Taylor retains all of her signatures from her short stories in Lips Touch: Three Times: exotic, vivid settings; sumptuous and sophisticated prose; complex characters driven by longing and passion; an intricate plot; playful bits of humor; and a tale brimming with wisdom, intensity, hopefulness, sacrifice, darkness, and a certain ineffable grown-up fairy tale quality. Like her short stories, this novel also goes in directions you don’t expect but, once taken there, you feel are inevitable. On the surface, it’s a tale of star-crossed lovers with a surprising connection, caught up in a hundreds-year-old war that has started to bleed into the real world, and with Taylor’s writing that would be enough to make this amazing. But at its heart, this book is about the tragic and yet transcendent nature of hope, a quality that leads both angels and devils to seek something beyond the boundaries that have always defined and limited them. As Brimstone says early on, giving you an important theme disguised as simple dialogue, “Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.”

To be honest, I can’t think of many negative things to say about this novel. Well, okay, here’s one negative thing: I have to wait for the next one? For how long?

(Cross-posted in slightly different form to my account at Goodreads)

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