BOOK REVIEW: Daughter Of Smoke And Bone


Seventeen year old Karou has had an unusual upbringing.  On the surface she seems to be a slightly eccentric student attending Art College in Prague, but she has another life, filled with magic, mystery and ever-increasing danger.  Little do her friends suspect that her wild stories about doors between worlds are perfectly true, or that her fanciful drawings of chimaera-like creatures are based on life.

So far Karou has managed to balance her everyday life with her secret role as errand girl to the enigmatic Brimstone, but all that changes when she finds herself caught up in the midst of a secret war between forces even she could not imagine.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a magical and beautifully written tale which touches on old themes –  good and evil, love and war – and yet somehow makes them seem fresh.  From the start the book is full of striking images which subvert expectations.  Creatures which might become nightmare fuel in another authors hands (such as the powerful, ram-headed Brimstone and the Medusa-like Issa) are turned into a warm-hearted little family for Karou.  It is, initially at any rate, the more angelic figures that are the source of terror.  But things are not as simple as they seem.  Although it might initially seem to be a simple subversion of the age-old angels vs demons story, Daughter Of Smoke And Bone has many more twists in the tale.

The book builds slowly but beguilingly by introducing us to a Karou’s life in Prague.  The city, with its mixture of the modern and the gothic, makes a perfect setting for a dark fairy tale.  There is a feeling of the real world intertwining with the mythic as more and more details of Karou’s strange double life come to light.  Her existence is full of mysteries to which she has persistently sought but failed to find the answers.  How did a human child come to be raised by chimaera?  Why is she dogged by such a feeling of incompleteness?  Where does the other door in Brimstone’s office lead, and what does he do with all the teeth?

Gradually these mysteries begin to unravel and we begin to get a sense of the bigger picture.  This is the point at which the story picks up a gear and some of the history of a worlds-spanning conflict come to light.  Amidst all this is a tragic but powerful story of star-crossed lovers.  The different narratives are skilfully woven together so as to never become confusing, despite jumping between different time periods and points of view.

The love story becomes much more heavily featured in the latter part of the book but don’t let that put you off.  The story of forbidden passions may seem slightly clichéd at first, but it is skilfully written and doesn’t slow down the plot at all.   If you allow yourself, you will soon get swept up in the powerful drama.

I was totally engaged and enchanted with this book.  It is a fantastic start to an exciting new series and I cannot wait for the next part!

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Clover Winton-Polak

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  1. Agreed; I really enjoyed Smoke and Bone, and it surprised me that what is essentially a YA paranormal romance could be that good 🙂 I’ve got the sequel on my to be read shelf; I read through a preview of it and it was just as good.


    • Clover Winton-Polak /

      Funny I wasn’t really thinking of it as being YA but I suppose it could fit into that category (given the age of the main character). I’m really looking forward to the sequel too.


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