Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Why I read it: This was the January pick for a bookclub I participate in called the League of Extraordinary Dorks. We meet in a virtual space that allows for any costume you can imagine.
It is important to keep in mind that I am reviewing this for what it is - a YA paranormal romance. For my own tastes, this would be a solid 3 stars, but there are a handful of things that I think make it better than an average YA paranormal romance (*cough* Twilight *cough*), which combine to take it to a solid 4. Skimming a bunch of reviews online, some people love this book. Obsessively. I hope to offer a slightly more objective opinion.
First of all, the world. The author has chosen Prague as the location for where Karou, the main character, lives. It is mysterious enough, but we soon discover that she uses certain gateways to travel between that city of the 21st century and Elsewhere.
I saw this picture of Prague at night in the fog in Pinterest, and it pretty much matched what I see in my head as I listen to this book. There could so easily be magic here.
The storytelling kept me interested, although I was rolling my eyes at some of it - I'm just not the intended audience. I'm not going to swoon over a desperately handsome seraphim in a star-crossed lover type scenario, but I can see how that might be appealing to a slightly younger crowd (honestly, I don't remember ever quite being that girl, but maybe I was.) I did appreciate some of the details. The description of Madrigal's dress, little tidbits like Karou being given the gift of knowing a new language on her birthday, those burned handprints that come back in the end, and so on.
Even better, the story takes some interesting twists. The story of Madrigal may be the most interesting part, and it isn't even introduced until the last fourth of the novel.
I listened to the audio version of this book, from a free download I got last summer when the publisher was trying to promote new books alongside YA classics. Khristine Hvam does a nice job with the accents, although Brimstone sometimes sounded Nigerian, which didn't seem quite right. Most of the time, I wasn't thinking about the reader at all, which to me is a good sign. She also is a great reader of emotion, and captures Karou well.
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