(Hodder, September 2011)
Recently, I’ve read a few Y/A fantasy fiction novels, some of which I’ve loved and some of which have been distinctly underwhelming (see here for more). Since its publication, The Daughter of Smoke and Bone has received rave reviews from Y/A bloggers, so when I was casting my eye around for something new to read, it naturally made the list.
Karou has grown up between worlds, her childhood was spent in the back of a mysterious shop owned by Brimstone, a dealer in teeth and wishes and Karou’s guardian for as long as she can remember. Now Karou is old enough to fend for herself, and she has gradually begun to forge a life in the human world, but she’s increasingly torn between normality and the exciting, dangerous and macabre duties that she carries out on Brimstone’s behalf. She is also desperately searching for answers regarding her identity and how she came to be in Brimstone’s care. Then one day, she comes into contact with one cold-hearted and extremely powerful angel, Akiva, who might just hold the answers she needs.
As with most Y/A fantasy novels, there is a strong love story at the heart of ‘The Daughter of Smoke and Bones’, the true extent of which becomes clear as the novel progresses. That said, the author has really tried to approach this in a different way and break free of the traditional stereotypes. There’s no escaping the fact that all the clichéd elements are there, but it was interesting and different, with a bit of a twist, and the way the novel was written kept me turning the pages.
My main criticism of this novel is that I felt it was wholly focussed on building up to a sequel. There’s a lot of time dedicated to explaining Karou’s background and history of her world, but the action was just about to kick off when the book ended, which was frustrating to say the least. I’m all for sequels, and I think they can work really well, but The Daughter of Smoke and Bones needed more of a story of its own. Now my big debate is whether this annoyed me too much to read the next in the series – or whether my curiosity as to what happens next will win out?!