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 work – 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.”
I can’t work this out. I can remember reading this when it first came out in hardback, seeing all the hype over it, getting halfway through and thinking, “meh, s’ok”. And yet now? I’ve been absolutely glued to it all weekend and I can’t imagine, other than Advent, when I’ve read ever read anything so beautiful. The only explanation I can think of is that last year I was trying to read far too much far too fast, and I obviously went temporarily insane. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is, quite simply, Perfect.
The thing is, this late in the day, there’s nothing I can say about the gorgeousness of this book that hasn’t already been said a million times. But just for the record, I couldn’t have loved it more. Taylor’s writing, oh my God, if I could write like that. Jesus. It comes across as effortlessly glorious. The descriptions of Prague, the architecture and the ambiance, and Marrakesh, it’s just…so uniquely wonderful. Taylor paints with words. And perhaps the most striking thing of all is that even with so much richness and careful detail, the pace here doesn’t let up. What a rare and beautiful talent.
I got totally swept up in Karou’s story here, I fell in love with Brimstone. I cried. I want to go to Poison Kitchen for goulash, I want to leaf through Karou’s sketches and I want to see Akiva’s eyes.
As far as I’m concerned this is as good as it can ever get. The Perfect Novel. The richness of the characters, the detail in the world-building, the twists in the plot…I honestly can’t even get anywhere near doing it justice. You just have to read it. It’s a thing of pure beauty.
The sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight, is out now in hardback, and I absolutely have to have it.