Release date: 27 September 2011
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★ – 9/10
Goodreads link

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (DOSAB trilogy #1) blurb:

ERRAND REQUIRING IMMEDIATE ATTENTION.  COME.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it.  Karou read the message.  “He never says please”, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance.  On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family.  Raised half in our world, half in Elsewhere, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark world – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping.  She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

This series absolutely kills me.  And that is the reason that I have taken weeks, verging on months to write this review.  It is also the reason I keep dyeing my hair blue, and why I bought fan art from the internet to create a personalised Mac Book skin for my new laptop.

I will absolutely admit that it took me three tries to get into the first book.  Twice I read the first few chapters and it did not hold my interest.  And I want to THANK (and hug) the girl at Dymocks on Collins St, Melbourne, who told me to persevere, and then sold me book number 2.

Karou is an amazing character.  She is strong, independent, talented, funny, kind and broken.  All she wants is real love – whether that be from her adopted family or a soul mate.  Not that she doesn’t already have it from Brimstone and the others, but she knows they’re holding something back.  And because they are holding back, she cannot be her true self – in either world, only the space in between.

Zuzana, Karou’s best friend in the human world, is also amazing.  Also talented, she is sassy, sarcastic, wickedly funny, fiercely loyal and shy.  Between the two of them is right where I wish I could be.

Brimstone, Issa, Yasri, Twiga and Kishmish live in Elsewhere, and are Karou’s adopted family.  But no one knows about them, as they would be considered ‘monsters’ here.   Known to Karou as ‘chimaera’, the description of Brimstone is one of my favourite parts of this book:

Brimstone’s arms and massive torso were the only human parts of him, though the tough flesh that covered them was more hide than skin.  His square pectorals were riven with ancient scar tissue, one nipple entirely obliterated by it, and his shoulders and back were etched in more scars: a network of puckered white cross-hatchings.  Below the waist he became else-thing.  His haunches, covered in faded, off-gold fur, rippled with leonine muscle, but instead of the padded paws of a lion, they tapered to wicked, clawed feet that could have been either raptor or lizard – or perhaps, Karou fancied, dragon.

And then there was his head.  Roughly that of a ram, it wasn’t furred, but fleshed in the same tough brown hide as the rest of him.  It gave way to scales around his flat ovine nose and reptilian eyes, and giant, yellowed ram horns spiraled on either side of his face.

brimstoneThere is fan art on the internet that captures this beautifully, but I just need to make a super quick detour and share with you my favourite DOSAB fan art artist (in fact, I kind of want her to read everything I read and then do all of the art forever).  This is Lesya, of Black Bird Ink: http://blackbirdink.deviantart.com/gallery/

And this is her depiction of Brimstone.

Anyway, go visit her art and I promise she has captured Karou, Zuzana, Brimstone, Akiva, Liraz, Hazael, Mik, everyone, just perfectly.

So, back to the book.  This is the first story in a trilogy by Laini Taylor.  The over-arching story will capture you in a way that only truly beautiful writing can.  The story itself is mesmerising and draws you in fully to immerse you in the plight of the characters, how only a truly gifted story-teller can do.  To me, this is my new Harry Potter.  Well, this and Throne of Glass.

There are absolutely religious undertones in this story, much like that of the Fallen series by Lauren Kate and the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare.  Angels and demons make up the core of the characters, with Karou and Zuzana occupying that small set of ‘human’ in between.

It isn’t all doom and gloom, but there is a lot – Karou finds her true love, but just like a Shakespearean tragedy, it is taken away with the snap of a bone.  And there begins the remainder of the trilogy.  The book ends with Karou finding her way back home after she finds herself – her real self, and with the lovers separated by worlds and culture and, more than that, hate, it is hard to see where this may end.

Laini Taylor has absolutely outdone herself with this book, and I implore you to read this series.  It absolutely takes my breath away.

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