It is a testament to Laini Taylor's writing that the story seems to almost tell itself. And it's not an easy story to tell, by any means. Daughter of Smoke & Bone reveals a fantasy world unlike any other I've read of in the vast field of YA fantasy. The titular daughter, Karou, had a very unique upbringing. As a human girl raised by demons (they prefer to call themselves chimaera), smoke and bone could easily represent the two worlds that Karou belongs to: human and demon. When an unknown force threatens the demon half of her life, Karou must uncover more about the mysteries that her demon foster father kept from her, while at the same time trying to understand her connection to the warrior angel who brought on this danger.
Karou is a strong, clever, self-assured character with a wry wit that makes her point of view delightful to read. She's the driving force of the story, although there are a few passages told from a different perspective, which help to give the reader a fuller understanding of the complexities of the story. All the characters are richly drawn, particularly the paternal figure of Brimstone the Wishmonger. Even Karou's narcissistic ex-boyfriend is a multidimensional lowlife. None of the characters are purely good or evil, and the line between heroes and villains is practically indiscernible. The story shows two sides of a war, but deems neither side right or wrong.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone is a firework that ignites on the page. It's a vibrant, colorful, and wonderfully original story, featuring exotic settings, captivating and complex characters, and an intoxicating mix of myth, folklore, and fantasy. It's everything I want a book to be: dynamic, heartfelt, exhilarating, funny, well-crafted, and unique. Although it is a story about wishes, the theme of Daughter of Smoke & Bone is that hope is stronger than wishing, and hope is exactly what this book inspires. I was left hoping for more stories like this one, and wishing for the sequel to be published soon.