Review originally posted here
.Why I Read It:
I've been meaning to read this book since it was released back in September of 2011. I didn't, because I was swamped with school and my own TBR, then bought it in December, then it languished in my TBR. Then I read Lips Touch
and her Dreamdark books and KNEW I had to read Smoke and Bone
as soon as possible. So as soon as I finished Silksinger
, I picked this up. Non-spoilery review ahead.
A part of me is glad that I didn't read Taylor's most recent novel first, because in a lot of ways it's my favourite. Where Dreamdark was more tailored to a middle grade audience, this was mature; where Lips Touch
were bite-sized delicacies, this was a whole meal. In a word, it was awesome.
Everything about the world-building felt perfect. It was new and fresh while also being familiar in a lot of ways. Everything about the magic in Karou's world was fantastic and completely enthralled me. I feel like I'm being very vague and not analytical enough, but I feel like if I go into too much detail about the world-building that it could potentially be spoilery. It really is much better going into the novel without knowing anything about it (which I unfortunately didn't; a lot of plot-points were revealed to me in reviews I had read, and while they weren't EXACTLY spoilery, they made other points of the novel kind of obvious, which was unfortunate.)
The plot was fun to read because I *needed* to know Karou's origins. I *needed* to know what was up with Brimstone and those teeth! Brimstone harbours a lot of secrets from Karou, which is frustrating for her, but never was for me. Yeah, Taylor teases you and pulls you in, but it made for great reading. And even when I had a pretty good idea about who/what Karou was (and I was right), the reveal still shocked me in a lot of ways.
Going into this, because of some semi-spoilery reviews, I already knew that there was going to be a love angle to this, and some people lamented at the insta-love that went down. And yeah, there is a level of insta-love happening here, but it's handled in a way that I can get behind, which is saying a lot because I HATE HATE HATE insta-love. It usually drives me up a wall. I still wasn't 100% behind some of it, but just the fact that it didn't make me throw this book in frustration says a lot.
I haven't said a lot about the characters, but mostly because there isn't much I can say that hasn't been said already. Karou is a great character; she's spunky and capable, but has her faults (I'm thinking specifically about her vengeful behaviour towards her ex-boyfriend [even if he is an asshole]. All marks of a great character. Her BFF Zuzana was fantastic as well. I love female-female friendships when they're done well. (:
I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the writing at all either. The story is set in Prague, which is already fantastic, but Taylor really nails the setting. There's something about Taylor's writing that's just really PRETTY without being cloying. Her style reminds me a bit of Valente, in that she chooses odd metaphors, but they work perfectly (Taylor isn't nearly as intricate as Valente though, but I think very few authors are, to be honest.) All in all, it heightens the reading experience substantially.Final Verdict:
There's so much to like here: unique world-building (though it contains a lot of familiar elements as well, but it's still imbued with originality), a very likable heroine with an equally likable best friend, and a love story that isn't grating or the least bit annoying (which is saying a lot, because the nature of the love story is something that usually drives me up a wall.) You have all this, as well as Taylor's wonderfully evocative writing; she nails the Prague setting and has a writing style that is adorned without being cloying or purple. The ending of the book made me want the second book in the series, like, yesterday, and November seriously can't come soon enough. Finishing this novel has also heralded the end to reading all of Laini Taylor's books, which makes me sad. She has become an insta-buy author for me.