Books · Reviews

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

daughter of smoke and bone

Happy Monday, guys! πŸ™‚ (I know, I know… But let’s try not starting the week on a negative note, okay?)

So I finally got into the hype train that is Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Laini Taylor… Can you believe it’s been six years since its release? Talk about feeling old!


This review is completely spoiler-free.

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synopsis

Karou is an art student living in Prague. She has a peculiar “family” and a peculiar “job”, both of which she keeps secret – except in her notebook sketches, that is. Zuzana is sick and tired of her best friend’s errands keeping her so busy all the time, but there’s nothing Karou can do about it… Brimstone is always in need of more teeth for his craft, and she’s the only one who can do it. When black hand-prints start to appear on doorways all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before Karou learns the truth…

 

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This book pulled me in in the first few seconds. It took a page or so to envelop me in this cocoon of pure awe and enchantment. Really, that’s what it felt like.

The world building in this is absolutely insane. Absolutely, insanely amazing. The writing was impeccable and some of the best I’ve read in a while. The author had this way of making the most mundane of things sound poetic and wonderful and just genius. Everything, genius!

The way Taylor describes Prague and every other place Karou visits so vividly, one feels like they’re actually there. I found myself wanting to hang out with Karou and her friends, take in the gorgeous surroundings, taste the amazing food, get all these stimuli. It’s one of those books where I almost felt actual, physical teleportation.

All the characters were amazing. All of them. Even the not so great people. Zuzana was a great sidekick, even if we get to see so little of her. Their companionship was so fun and nice and I loved reading about their time together, even if they weren’t doing anything particularly outstanding. Brimstone and the remnant shop workers were incredible and really unique. I loved their relationship with Karou and how, despite all odds, they made such a great close-knit family.

Karou is an awesome heroine, of course. She’s tough, resourceful, independent but also kind, caring and loving. She’s both incredibly mature and immature at times, but she’s only seventeen, and she always owns up to her not so great moments. She’s flawed and vulnerable and that’s what makes her interesting. She’s also deeply artistic, as is the whole book. If you’re a fan of art, you’ll be equal parts amazed and thrilled by the amount of cool references in this book: there’s drawing, dancing, music, acting… Seriously, it’s an artist’s paradise!

The whole story is shrouded in mystery from beginning to end. I was kept on the edge of my seat the entire time, wanting to find out what some hints meant, why did some characters act the way they did, who some people were… Taylor made sure to extend the suspense for as long as humanly possible, and it drove me nuts! But I think it was that expectancy, that build-up, that tension, that really made me appreciate (and be mind-blown by) the big reveals and tiny plot twists.

It was brutal. Amazing, but brutal. The reader’s expecting something major to happen since the very beginning, of course. But I don’t think anyone will be completely ready for it.

Finally, the romance. I loved it – it was so sweet, so adorable, it felt like my heart would burst out of my chest with feels (literally). Yet, once again, it wasn’t perfect… (More on The Bitter section.)

 

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There is instalove in this, and I’m still not sure whether I liked it or not. Probably not. The first part of the story was absolutely fantastic, I have not one bad word to say about the relationship AT ALL. But as the story progressed, those feels dwindled a little. By the end, I just wasn’t feeling it anymore?

It was also a bit confusing in the beginning, as there’s all this stuff we have yet to learn about Karou, her life, what she does, etc. Like I said, it’s a small price to pay in order to be absolutely amazed afterwards. But just a heads up.

Now, the really big peeve (for me):

The last quarter of the book almost ruined the whole story for me. Yup, that’s right. While I adored the big reveals and the unraveling of the plot (both of which were masterful. Masterful, I tell you), it made me feel terribly despondent. Why? Because I had grown horribly attached to Karou and her relationships (both old and new) and everything about her world, and what happened next shattered all those notions.

Don’t get me wrong: it was brilliant. It was spectacular. It blew my mind. But it was also, like I said, disappointing. And heartbreaking. It also seemed completely disconnected from the rest of the story.

The first part of the book mainly targeted character development; the second, plot development. And these two feel a lifetime apart. Not to mention, I didn’t really understand the conflict? I mean, it is explained to some extent but it didn’t make much sense to me. It just felt flat, really. Like a means to an end.

 

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I feel a bit divided. While I was absolutely in love
with this book for the first three quarters of it, my feelings changed quite a bit towards the end.Β 

Still, I can’t deny Laini Taylor is a fantastic author: her writing is perfect, her world building is perfect, her characters are perfect, her story-telling is perfect. She made me cry more than once. She made me feel all these things I wasn’t even aware I could feel. She destroyed me and I love her for it.

The pacing is fantastic, the art references are golden, the tension and build-up are off the charts. If you enjoy getting transported to marvelous and vivid worlds, with a genius fantasy backdrop, a very complex and masterful plot, lots of mystery/suspense, and a sweet hate-to-love romance, then this book is for you.

My complaints are: feeling a bit lost in the beginning (totally worth it, though!) and the instalove. Also, the seemingly disconnected storylines and lack of conflict were impossible to ignore and interfered too much with my reading experience, in the end.

I’ll definitely need the sequels to sort out my feelings as this book felt very anticlimactic. But for the time being, yes, I recommend Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Story & Plot:Β 4choco

Writing & Style:Β 5choco

Characters:Β 5choco

Pacing:Β 5choco

Enjoyment: 4choco

Final Rating:

4choco

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Get Daughter of Smoke and Bone at BookDepository, Amazon and B&N!

Follow Laini Taylor on Twitter, Goodreads and her official website.

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Thank you so much for reading and until next time!

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What did you think of my review? Do you plan to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone? ヽ(o^―^o)οΎ‰

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48 thoughts on “Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

  1. I’m glad to hear you liked this one (more or less, anyway!). πŸ™‚ I loved the Prague setting, and I really enjoyed the relationship with Brimstone too. I definitely didn’t expect all the reveals!
    Looking back on the series now the instalove is a bit of a bummer; I read this a few years back and I think I managed to overlook it because I was obsessed with an angel/demon setting at the time, haha!
    Great review though, I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I mean, I really liked it! Until about the last few hundred pages? So it’s still a pretty amazing book, it just wasn’t… Consistent, I guess.
      Brimstone was probably my favorite! Issa too, she was so lovely and sweet to Karou ❀️
      I really enjoyed Karou and Akiva’s relationship in the beginning because I felt there was something more to it and the instalove vibe could be explained. It was when we got to the flashbacks and you-know-who that it started to bother me. Because that, that was pure instalove right there and we got no explanation for why they cared for each other at all. They just fell in love out of the blue… Ugh.
      So yeah, absolutely enjoyed the whole angel/demon thing kind of but the starcrossed lovers just didn’t do it much for me because there wasn’t much substance to it.
      Thank you so much! ❀️❀️ I’m glad you enjoyed this one too and I hope the sequels get better 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah that’s true, the whole “true love will find a way” scenario, even after death, haha! Oh gosh but yeah, Issa was a babe πŸ™‚ It was so nice to see, as you often seen demons portrayed negatively, it was a nice touch.
        Aw, I hope you like the rest of the series! It does differ from the first book and delves a bit more into the mythical side, you’ll have to let me know what you think!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, so true! Stereotypical demons are just so clichΓ©… Give me more Issas! XD
          Thank you, I hope so too πŸ™‚ I’m glad to hear it! I did love that about the series (well, not the part that involved the soul thing and such but, you know, everything else hahaha) so I’m excited ^^
          Will love to share my thoughts with you, of course! ❀

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Slight spoilers here for anyone who hasn’t read it yet!! Don’t look.
    I literally finished this yesterday! I think I feel very similar to you. It took me longer to warm to Karou, but once she really began to shine as a character I was all in! Then the romance happened and I feel like it took away her personality. Maybe it’s just the instalove and the fact that we just don’t see much of her after that last quarter of the book begins. I don’t know.
    The last quarter ruined it a bit for me too. I feel like there was a better way of executing that story than dedicating 120 pages to it at the end. I didn’t feel as attatched.
    Great review! Sorry to ramble on 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s awesome! Are you planning on writing your review soon? I’d love to read it ^^
      Yeah, I don’t know how I would have done it, personally, and even though I think it was a really well-told story, the fact that I kept wanting to return to Karou and forget everything that I was reading about was not a good sign. It just broke my heart! And it made me feel like Karou was not actually Karou… I can’t really explain it hahaha
      I did like her relationship with Akiva at first because I felt like there was more to it and a reason for him to be acting like that. That reason made sense and justified the “instalove”. It was only after (when we find out the truth) that I felt like there was no real explanation. There was simply the meeting and the falling in love… No substance to it.
      Thank you so much! ❀️ And absolutely not, I love rambling too! πŸ˜„ (as you can see hahaha)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m just back from holiday so I’ve got to sort out my reviews and posts! Hopefully it will go up soon πŸ™‚

        I think you’re absolutely right — I don’t know how else I would have done it either! It was really tough getting torn away from Karou, especially when I had started to really like her and like where the story was going. It’s strange now to think that it’s her but not her, I don’t really know how to feel about it.

        I picked up the sequel while on holiday, so I’m definitely excited to keep going with the series! I’m curious to see where it goes πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “It’s strange now to think that it’s her but not her, I don’t really know how to feel about it.” Yes, this right here! I was so in love with her and everything about her and her world, and it was all just a big shock… I actually was expecting it to happen (it hinted at from the beginning) but I never thought it would be so drastic a change that it would make her feel a different person with a different life altogether.
          I hope you enjoy it! πŸ˜€ I’m a bit hesitant to start the second book (a bit hurt, even, to be honest) but I’m so curious about it too… Too many feels XD

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed Daughter Of Smoke and Bone Series but Its not one of my favorite series. I loved the first book but I was little bit disappointed with book 2 and book 3. Anyways, I hope you enjoy rest of the series! Happy Reading! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review for this book Sophie, and oh I’m really glad you enjoyed it. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first book by Laini Taylor I read and I loved it. It’s the book that made me want to visit Prague because of how amazing her world-building was, and it was the same with the second and third books and where they were set.
    I’m sorry to hear you were a little disappointed by the ending though, it was definitely and I guess in a way something that big happening can kind of disconnect you from the story a little can’t it? Still four stars is a great rating. πŸ™‚
    Do you plan to read the second and third books soon? I hope you enjoy them if/when you do! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much, Beth! ❀️ Yeah, despite everything I did enjoy it a lot (at least for the most part). This is my first Laini Taylor book as well and I’m absolutely sold hahaha
      I’m glad to hear the setting will be the same in all three books! I loved Prague and the way Taylor described it. It became an instant dream vacation for me too πŸ˜„
      Yeah, that’s what it felt like, really… But overall, and up until that point, it was an awesome read so I thought deducting one star would still be fair.
      Yes, definitely! I’m way too invested in the story and characters to think about giving up now hahaha Plus, I’m super curious about what happens next 😊
      Thank you! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s all right! πŸ˜€ ❀ Oh that's good to hear, and if this is the first Laini Taylor book you've read I'll keep my fingers crossed you'll enjoy the rest of her releases more and more.
        If there's one thing Laini Taylor does amazingly it's world building. I always want to immediately visit the places she writes about, at least Prague was somewhere I could visit! πŸ˜€
        Seems fair to me, the ending is a big part in all books and if you weren't happy with it I guess it's good you only deducted one star! πŸ™‚ Good to hear, I'll keep an eye out for your other reviews in that case.

        Like

    1. Oh I’m sorry to hear that… I feel conflicted because of that: it was really well-done but at the same time it felt wrong, emotionally speaking.
      I’m planning on reading the second and maybe third books, if all goes well. But I’m keeping my expectations low.

      Like

            1. Akiva was sooo sweet! My heart bled for him, and Karou, and just… The whole thing was heartbreaking.
              I just wanted to wrap them all up in a blanket and keep them together and safe from harm 😦 What both had to endure…
              I definitely look forward to seeing how their relationship evolves in the sequels and how much the whole thing affects them.
              I’m hoping I’ll feel less sad because, really, how can one top the absolute overwhelming distress that was book one?

              Like

                1. Oh my God, I don’t know what I’ll do if there’s NOT a happy ending! T_T
                  I’d probably ban Laini Taylor from my TBR and never read another book of hers ever again (not really because I’m still curious about Strange the Dreamer but I’d be really, really, really upset)
                  I’ll definitely let you know!

                  Like

    1. You’re very welcome! And thank you for the lovely comment ❀️❀️😊
      I hope you enjoy this one, it’s definitely magical and creepy all at once – but in a good way, of course! You won’t be disappointed by neither of those expectations, I think πŸ˜‰

      Like

    1. Oh, I completely understand! I’m not sorry I started reading this series but it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting…
      Thank you so much for thinking so! Some people prefer shorter reviews but I find that impossible to do hahaha Especially with certain books. I’m glad you enjoy them, though, thank you very much for the support πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fab review, Sophie! I ADORED this one. But book two fell a little flat for me. I think it may have continued in the same vein you were picking up on towards the end of this one. I haven’t yet picked up book three, but I do still want to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Krysti! ❀ Oh I'm sorry to hear it… Rarely do sequels top the first book (there are exceptions, of course, like The Lunar Chronicles) and because I was left a bit disappointed at the end, I was ready to lower my expectations for the second book.
      I really hope you enjoy the third a lot more! It would be a shame for this series to get worse and worse :/

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hmm, this sounds like a great read, until the end that is. I have seen a lot of movies, tv series and ofcourse read novels that ruin (or as in this case almost ruin) it all. I do love the premise for this one. And the cover of this novel looks absolutely awesome. But having already way too many books to read (a few of them recommendations from you lolπŸ˜‚), I’m going to pass up on this one for the moment. Maybe I will pick it up at some point in the future, you never know. As always I really enjoyed reading this very enthusiastic review. Thanks for sharing this πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The plot is truly unique and original and the writing absolutely superb. Honestly, it was really well done on most parts but fell short on others… I would gladly have given it 5 shiny stars (well, pieces of chocolate) but it wouldn’t be fair to myself to do so, as there were these details that were nagging me.
      I totally understand, of course hahaha Though I think this book is far superior to many I’ve read and given five starts to, to be honest XD In the end, it was the fact that I was expecting so much out of it (because of that brilliant beginning/middle) that led to downhearted disappointment. Had it stayed consistent, it would probably be one of the best reads of my life (and I’m still not sure it isn’t!) But again, feelings got in the way hahaha
      Thank you so so much for yet another wonderful comment! Love your input, as always 😊 ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This sounds like a pretty great book…that is, until the end. I haven’t actually heard of this book, but I love when authors do a great job in world-building. Prague is on my list to go! Hubby’s been there for work, but I have yet to go. I should read this book and when I go, I can compare. πŸ™‚

    Thank you for another great review! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had to create a Pinterest board for this book as soon as I started reading it because the descriptions were just breathtaking… Everything Taylor talked about made me want to travel to Prague at that exact moment, although that was impossible so I just followed along with all the photos I found of all the amazing places Karou visited 😊
      I hope we can both go there one day! Your husband is so lucky T_T
      Thank you so much for reading and for the lovely comment! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah yes this is such an enchanting book!!! It made me so emotional too- I *loved* it (and the whole series!!) Yeah the ending does shatter a lot of the building that’s been done for the world in this book- but it sets up so many cool things for the next one and it was devastingly well done that I didn’t end up minding, if that makes sense? And trust me there’s a lot more conflict later on!! Awesome review- so glad you liked it!! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aaahh thank God!! T_T I need the sequels to be better than that ending, otherwise I’ll cry!!
      Like I said, I’m divided because I too thought it was super well-done but on the other hand it still bothered me, so yeah… My heart is very confused XD
      Thank you so much! ❀ ❀ And thank you for giving hope hahaha

      Like

  9. Hi! I’m glad that I found someone else who feels similarly about this book as I do!! (So far I’ve been seeing only raving reviews for this one…)
    There is definitely some instalove between Karou and Akiva, and I suppose in the grand scheme of things, it makes sense. But I am not a fan of instalove in general because it doesn’t feel real.
    I definitely feel the same way about how everything turns upside down towards the end of the novel. I liked the “old” Karou, but when certain realizations happened, it is like she becomes a whole new person, and I do feel disconnected from the “new” Karou.
    Thanks for sharing this review πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. Hey Sophie! ^^ I’m so glad we agree on this because I too have only encountered either stellar reviews or really negative ones… And I find myself in between!
      Yeah I wasn’t totally bothered by the instalove because I realized from the beginning there was something more to it that would be explained later on. Which it was. But THAT other relationship’s instalove is what didn’t make sense at all. It was, pure and simple, love at first sight. And I don’t like that either. I was hoping there was something deeper, more meaningful about it, that would make the whole transcendence thing work. But, unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
      Exactly my feelings, absolutely. I loved Karou so much and this isn’t actually Karou… Well, it is but at the same time it isn’t, and it’s all very confusing for my poor heart that just wanted things to be simpler for these two hahaha
      Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! ❀ Glad we had a similar opinion on this πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally see your point about the other relationship being instalove as well (it’s all coming back to me) πŸ™‚ Definitely agree that the connection between characters in general feel more meaningful when it develops gradually!
        Thanks for sharing your honest opinion πŸ™‚ looking forward to seeing more of your reviews!

        Like

  10. Hi Sophie! Glad you loved basically everything about the book… unfortunately there is always instalove in Taylor’s books… I can always somewhat see it even though I wish she’s explore their relationship more before declaring undying love… Her world building is always equally creative and mind blowing. I love that about Taylor… I agree about the end not being my favorite… her people especially her female MC is always a little off for me… (I’m using always because I just read Strange the Dreamer and felt almost exactly the same about it, lol!) Anyway great review…

    Like

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