Thursday, March 15, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Last night, I "finished" reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I find it ironic that on the first page of the book, Taylor says this: "Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well." It's ironic because, as far as I'm concerned, that's a pretty apt summary for this book. It did not end well at all.

Karou is a young lady living in Prague who is a bit unusual. She has bright blue hair. She has eyes tattooed on the palms of her hands. She is fluent in close to two dozen languages. She is a master martial artist.

And oh yeah, she was raised by a hulking monster named Brimstone who sends her out on errands to collect teeth.

It turns out that Brimstone actually raised Karou from his magical shop, a place where human beings can come and barter teeth (animal and human) for wishes. Brimstone is a secretive sort of individual. He doesn't tell Karou why he needs the teeth or what he does with them. He won't tell her much about her background.

Then one day, while Karou is out on an errand for Brimstone in Marakesh, she's attacked by an angel. Soon Karou is drawn into a very real war being fought in another world, one that will upend everything she knows about herself and her rather unusual family.

I really wanted to like this book. Taylor did a great job creating Karou and her world. I was fascinated by Brimstone and the mysteries that surrounded him. But yet, as I finished this book, I became less and less satisfied with it.

You might think it's because of how Taylor rewrote a war between angels and demons. It's not that. While I had a little difficulty wrapping my head around that at first (blame it on my Christian mindset), I was able to adjust my thinking and appreciate the story as a good fantasy tale.

No, what undid this book for me was the ridiculously huge flashback at the end of the book. The last fifth of the book or so is one gigantic and, in my not-so-humble opinion, unnecessary flashback. The story of Karou ground to a halt so that Taylor could tell a story that, by that point, I had figured out for the most part. Yes, that story did fill in some of the details (like why Brimstone needs teeth), but I got bored reading it. I started skimming the chapters, not really caring what was happening and just wanting to find out what happened to Karou.

The book ends with the words, "To be continued." But this is where I get off. The story was interesting and engaging, but it went off the rails with the flashback. Pity. Could have been fun.

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