Saturday, January 21, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

by Laini Taylor
New York : Little, Brown, 2011.

Karou is an art student in Prague, a bit of a loner, and dealing with a persistent ex-boyfriend. She has drawn notebooks full of pictures of creatures such as Issa, part woman part snake; Twiga, who has a giraffe-long neck; and especially Brimstone, with his ram's horns, whom Karou refers to as the Wishmonger. What Karou's friends don't know is that her stories are true. The creatures call themselves chimaera, and they have raised Karou as long as she can remember.

The world building in this story is inventive, making up a unique mythology of seraphim and chimaera, all the while feeling natural to the story and its slow reveal of Karou's past. The dual tension of Karou wanting to learn where she came from and the threat to her chimaera family keep the pace fast: as you learn one, you're still anxious of the other. I thought some of the big reveals were a little easy to figure out, but Taylor's storytelling kept me wrapped around her little finger wanting to know what happens next.

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