I bought these on kindle ages ago when I was in my intense – read two YA books a day phase. The whole trilogy was on kindle deal so I bought all three, just knowing that some booktubers had recommended in those “if you like x then you’ll like y” videos. I can’t remember what I was supposed to have read to like these… oh well. The book is called The Daughter of Smoke and Bone which is kinda mysterious. The cover that I have (on my kindle so you never get to see it, alas) is of a rather ornate door that looks like it’s in an old town somewhere. The other version of the cover features a blue feathered mask on a woman’s face. Both covers are lovely, but I prefer random-unknown door.
Seventeen year old Karou lives in Prague, attending an art school and running errands for her chimera family. For the most part, she keeps her two lives relatively balanced, making art and hanging out with her friend, and collecting teeth for Brimstone. Raised half in our world, and half in “Elsewhere”, she’s never understood Brimstone’s dark world, nor felt as if she fits into either of her two lives, keeping secrets close to her chest and not really knowing who she is, or how she even came to be in Brimstone’s care. But then the doors to “Elsewhere” snap shut in a burst of flames, and an angel, angry and merciless, has been following Karou. How long until the secrets of her life catch up? Karou has to choose, between the war torn world of Elsewhere with her Chimera family, and her human life that is safe. One may hold the answer to every question she’d ever asked, starting with “who am I?”
Karou is simultaneously a sulky rebellious teen and a really grown up one, but she is governed quite a bit by her own anger and impulses. She wants to fly? Ok, she’s going to wish it. I love the idea of wasting a wish on having permanently blue hair. I’ll be honest, that is definitely what fifteen year old me would have done in the wake of my crush on Nymphadora Tonks. Anyway, back to Karou. Her relationship with the Chimera (monsters made from animals and humans) are cute and very familial. Brimstone is kinda the stern father figure and Issa the cool aunt that sneaks you an eye roll when the grown ups aren’t looking. I can’t remember much of her relationship with the other two. But it was all very family orientated. I loved Karou’s friend, she is bolshy and theatrical and loyal through all the rubbish Karou throws at her in a very short period of time.
I called the plot twist a mile off, but it was well executed, and answered some of the questions that had cropped up over the first half of the book. When she meets the Angel, angry and bitter after decades at war, he is so angry and yet he is drawn back to Karou and Karou on Earth. In my opinion it is fairly obvious what the connection is, and that feeling only becomes stronger as they spend more time together. I have to admit I think this is the only weird-ass version of devil falls in love with an angel/Romeo and Juliet “both alike in dignity” tale that I will accept without mocking it mercilessly.
The imagery was very rich. The main character is an artist and that does shine through. There is quite a lot of emphasis on physical beauty vs perceived ugliness and how it’s all relative in the eye of the beholder. So I did enjoy that aspect. No gays, it was all very heteronormative. That’s all I will say on the matter. So you got your devils and your angels and your humans and you Here’s and your Elsewhere’s and your teeth and drawing and Prague described beautifully.
But can we PLEASE just appreciate the absolute awesomeness that is this quote?
‘I don’t know many rules to live by,’ he’d said. ‘But here’s one. It’s simple. Don’t put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles – drug or tattoo – and . . . no inessential penises, either.’
‘Inessential penises?’ Karou had repeated, delighted with the phrase in spite of her grief. ‘Is there any such thing as an essential one?’
INESSENTIAL PENISES is now a phrase I will have to work into a conversation at some point. I am clearly an adolescent. I just like how it can describe not dating asshole men, but also, just not dating men. I can appreciate the sentiment.
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series has been massively hyped in YA literature, and it’s good, but I wouldn’t say it’s changed my world, or the best thing I’ve read ect. I’m mildly curious about what happens next, and because I have the whole series I will continue with them, but I thought it was good, on the upper end but ain’t touching my Shades of Magic series. But then, remember, things generally lose points for me if they’re overly focussed on romance, and this is quite romance heavy. Summary is good story, a good take on an old story and pretty well executed but lots of romancey schmancy.