Karou is a mystery. Azure-haired and dark-eyed, she runs errands for the equally mysterious Brimstone, collecting teeth from all over the world, even though she doesn’t know what he does with them. Free-spirited and artistic, she floats through life with the grace of a wish- and she knows better than most what a wish is worth. What she doesn’t know- yet- is what a wish costs. But she’ll learn. When the black handprints start appearing on portals all over the world, when flames sear into her sight, when a war she didn’t know existed spills over into her world, she’ll learn all too clearly the exact price of a wish.
I have been trying for DAYS to write this review, trying desperately to come up with any way to talk about this book that isn’t incoherent gushing. For days, I’ve been trying. For days, I’ve been failing. And still- even tonight, trying to tell one of my co-workers about this book, I was gushing like a moron.
But this book…oh guys!
It’s like reading poetry. Every word is an image, a texture, a snippet of song. It’s like dropping into the middle of a dance. Not one of those awkward middle school dances where everyone’s trying to dance in groups and the few brave couples are swaying at arms’ length, not a high school dance where everyone’s grinding up obscenely against each other, but a real dance where every movement is simultaneously precise and languid, where the choreography never feels choreographed, where the dance gives every human emotion across the full and vibrant range of life.
I know, I’m gushing, but seriously this has to be one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Every now and then it verged on a little too much but then it would give me an image so gorgeous that I had to actually close the book just so I could savor the words that sketched across the backs of my eyelids. The fact that it was so consistently beautiful also helped with that. It wasn’t normal conversation that suddenly proke into flowery purpleness and just as abruptly reverted; consistently, effortlessly (even though I know it was far from effortless) it was beautiful.
The characters are fully realized, rounded and dynamic and captivating, even the assholes (and yes, there are one or two scattered through, sometimes even amidst the good guys). Karou doesn’t just exist within the dance- she is the dance. She’s such a captivating mixture of honesty and deception, of loyalty and new experiences. Most of all, Karou is a product of wishes, her own and others. She’s a lot of things even she hasn’t discoverd yet, and we want to learn right along with her. Her friends- and her former friends, or at least acquaintances- are equally interesting. They aren’t there just to fill out the background; they exist on their own, vibrant and rich and FUN, but they both complement Karou and stand apart from her.
Wounded with a painful history, he has this astonishing chance for healing, only it’ll probably kill him before he can actually see it through. That chance, that history and that future and that love, is like trying to hold a sun. There’s no way it can end well yet you really, really hope it will. Even when the beauty burns, you can’t help but try to reach for it. He’s deliciously complicated in so many ways, caught between blood and beauty, between history and heroics, between everything he’s been and anything he could be.
This story soars, sometimes on wings, sometimes on wishes, sometimes on nothing more tangible than hope, cobweb thin and fragile. The worlds are rich and complex, and somehow the age-drenched stones of Prague are as alien as the world of the chimaera, each every bit as strange and real as the other. The mythology bases itself in our common world but it gives it a unique flavor, a vast expanse with a culture every bit as complicated as our own. This isn’t an easy world. It’s complicated with a lot of grey areas, with ethical questions and wars and kindnesses.
There is not enough good stuff I can say about this book, so to keep from gushing even more, I am just going to say this: READ THIS BOOK.
You won’t look at the world the same way afterwards.
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, out in stores now.
Until next time~