Welcome to my first First Read of 2019! It’s a new year, and I’ve picked up a new trilogy to go exploring in: Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, beginning with (of course) Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
In this post, I am charmed, fascinated and filled with empathetic rage. So, we’re off to a great start!
Spoilers follow for chapters 1-7.
Pleased To Meet You …
First things first, my initial impressions of these characters have all been pretty strong, and mostly positive: I am deeply intrigued by Karou, I want that hair trick for my own; Zuzana is so tiny and fierce I couldn’t possibly not love her, and she immediately had the social wisdom where Kazimir is concerned; speaking of Kazimir FUUUUUCK THAT GUY. But I’ll get to that.
I’m also already very impressed by Laini Taylor’s slick approach to worldbuilding and story/character setup here. Something I noticed right away is that Karou is a teenage girl who is both already dealing with a bad relationship that ended badly, and who is already aware of, and deeply involved with, the world of magic and monsters. Both of these things strike me as subversions of the usual Young Adult/urban fantasy tropes, and so I’m immediately inclined to appreciate it.
Add to that Ms Taylor’s wizardy ways with words, and there was really no question that I’d fall in love here, was there? She paints a vivid, beautiful picture of Prague that perfectly captures that dark magical side that all the best old European cities have, and if I didn’t already want to go there one day I sure as hell do now.
So! Very first impressions can be summed up thusly: SWOOOOOON.
Giant, Stupid Orifice
That, right there, is possibly the best description of a character like Kazimir I have ever heard. It is perfect, and it is going to be how I think of him from now on because while I am so very enamoured of every other character, I cannot stand Karou’s beautiful, astoundingly vain ex-boyfriend.
I mean, even without the added Ooof factor of having connected with Karou on a personal level, the first things we learn about Kaz are enough to make me dislike him. But we get this story from Karou’s point of view, and the depth of all the insecurity and emotional pain (and anger) she feels over what happened between them, the way Kaz treated her and the way he still treats her now, hurts my heart and pushes my rage button all at the same time. The scene with the scuppy-induced itchy vengeance was PERFECT, not because it wasn’t petty on Karou’s part (Brimstone is right, it was), but because petty or not, that guy deserved it. I’m sorry (not sorry), but he did.
Man. Scuppies may not be powerful magic, but good grief, Karou uses them well here. That was fantastically evil and I adored every second of it.
Down The Rabbit Hole
Now let’s talk about Karou’s other life, and the otherworld she came(?) from, because I AM SO DAMN FASCINATED BY IT ALL.
I love the monsters in Karou’s life almost as much as I adore Zuzana, I won’t lie. The kinship with Pan’s Labyrinth here is real, and it delights me because I am all about that wonderful, wonderful darkness. I want to know everything: Where Karou came from, how she got here, what Brimstone’s deal is, why he chose to rescue her (aside from the obvious affection because there is clearly going to be A Reason, right?), and most of all WHAT IS WITH ALL THE TEETH, SERIOUSLY THAT’S KIND OF CREEPY EVEN THOUGH I DIG IT.
This book’s pacing is exactly how I like it, too, I suspect; I’m getting information, but a) I’m not being overloaded with it, and b) I’m being mercilessly teased at the same time. There is so much I want to know, and it is going to be SO EASY to just keep right on reading. It’s delicious. I love it.
My main question now, though, especially after what chapters 6 and 7 gave me, is WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE HANDPRINTS. Are those creatures what I think they are? They are, aren’t they. OMG GIVE ME FALLEN ANGELS GIVE ME ALL OF THEM RIGHT NOW.
OK, I’m done here for the moment. I have to go back in.
Until next time…