Daughter of Smoke and Bone | Days of Blood and Starlight | Dreams of Gods and Monsters
When this series begins, you have no inkling of the world it is hiding in its pages. I have seen these books everywhere on Instagram, and finally decided to buy them. Their back cover reveals nothing about the story, so I went into it blind. I wasn’t sure what to expect and as I am usually more into full-on fantasy worlds instead of real world infused with fantasy elements, I proceeded with caution. ANd this is why Daughter of Smoke and Bone hooked me almost immediately. It starts out so subtly: Karou telling her friends that the monsters in her sketch books have stories, pretending they are real. And you realise – I’m reading fantasy, they probably ARE real.
And from there, the story juist builds. It is extraordinary, because even when we are drawn to its conclusion, it still keeps building the story. I don’t know if I agree with it – it leaves me wanting more when you end on a proclaimed middle, knowing that there are no more books to the series. It gave me serious withdrawal symptoms, feeling there should be more story all the while realising that no, I did reach the end. But there is also something very compelling about ending like that. It is not what you expect, other authors don’t do it. But it makes the reader realise that stories echo life for a reason, and that this is part of life. The story is never really over.
Laini Taylor created a rich world in her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Its expansion flows naturally and is better done than by most authors. The slow way in which we realise that Akiva’s past is not separated from Karou and his present, but actually intimately connected. The way in which we learn about Madrigal’s life takes time. She has several chapters devoted to her background story, temporarily breaking up the main plot, and I loved how Laini Taylor made room to explore this fully. Esoecially considering how important and integral it is going to be to Karou’s personality and experiences. It wasn’t an added bonus for the interested reader, it actually deepened and furthered the plot. I have to say, it is very rare you come across books built this way.
With every step the story becomes more complicated as well. I mentioned on Instagram that I would have liked to have more grey areas in the first book. It was easy to see who to root for. I was encouraged to keep reading, because it would get much more ambiguous later on. It really did. Both sides perform atrocities that cannot be called right, and that is a necessary strength to carry the message Laini Taylor weaves through: no matter what you do or have done in the past, you can choose to change and stand for something else, something better To take the hard road to a self you can live with. It is a journey every character – except the truly unredeemable – goes through.
I was blown away by these books because of how well they are constructed. I kept marvelling about it throughout all three. It is hard to pull of gradual reveals to keep adding to your world, without bogging them down with overexposure or deviations from the plot. Laini Taylor delivers her message in a way that I have not often seen before. The characters are compelling, believable and deepened by their actions in the plot. Both sides of the conflict have good and evil in them, and the way Eretz is entwined with Earth is intricate and beautiful. As I said before, I do think Laini Taylor could have chosen not to add Eliza and the Stelians. The story didn’t need it, but the author brought them in to make her point: stories continue beyond the one on paper. We end on a middle, a calm, but never truly an end.
In short, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series surprised me, immersed me, and truly delighted me. It has a strength of plot, storytelling and character building. It is original, a bit different, and has the potential to gain a huge fandom. I wish this series was more widely known, because I truly do recommend it to everyone out there.