In the penultimate part of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, we’re going back in time…
Major spoilers follow for chapters 40-50.
Let Me Tell You…
So in this part of the book, Karou finally learns the truth about herself. It remains to be seen how she’ll take it all though, because it doesn’t take long for the story to enter Flashback Mode. After she and Akiva break the wishbone that Brimstone left for her, we’re taken into the past and given The Events That Transpired from Madrigal’s point of view. I have thoughts on this, some appreciative and some a bit critical.
Let’s get ‘critical’ out of the way first, because while I generally don’t mind the flashback trope being used so long as it’s worth using, I am chafing a bit at the shift away from the main protagonists here. We left Akiva and Karou at a very pivotal moment, and I was excited to see what would happen following the wishbone breaking. I wanted Akiva to explain things and give us his perspective on it all, because the story up to this point has focused on that when it wasn’t focused on Karou. On the other hand … we have kind of not really left Karou’s story behind for this? Well, we have, but all of this is literally leading into Karou’s story, so I can see the logic in shifting away to give us Madrigal’s account of those important past events. But while I’m absolutely interested in what she has to say, I can’t deny that part of me would rather get back to Akiva and Karou, and the conversation that they clearly need to have.
I’m also a little unsure what to make of what these chapters seem to have to say about our heroine(s) here, because the most immediate connection I made between Madrigal and Karou is a sense of passivity. Karou has, so far, largely been reacting to things that happen to/around her, and at the beginning of her story, Madrigal is behaving mostly passively regarding the intentions of others toward her. Now I’m well aware that all of this may be about to change, and I’m completely ready for it because I don’t enjoy passive protagonists, however marvellous I think they are.
That said, it IS obvious that something is about to happen that Madrigal decided to act upon. The first hint we’re given of her involvement in Akiva’s life is that she wants things to change at a fundamental level, to give them a chance at having a life together in the first place. So there is clearly a purpose to telling her story this way, because at some point Madrigal stops behaving passively and becomes a key player, somehow seizing control of her own fate to the point where she herself is responsible for whatever happens to bring her back to life, so to speak, via Karou. And that, I can definitely appreciate. I’m not interested in weepy ‘heroines’ going helplessly to their deaths for love. It would serve no purpose other than to justify all of Akiva’s emotional pain and explain away the way he behaves at the start of this book, before all the truth begins unfolding. I know, technically this is precisely what Madrigal does, but the fact that she does it with a plan in place to thwart the intentions of her executioners makes a difference, to me. That is not the action of a passive character, and I’m grateful to see this particular plot device being subverted.
What’s The Story?
There is still so much more to know! How, exactly, does Madrigal achieve her goal here? What exactly was Brimstone’s part in it all? How much does he know at this point about Karou’s involvement with Akiva? Was giving Karou the hamsas his way of protecting her from the seraphim, or from Thiago? (Side note: NOW that scene in the castle makes more sense, and god that guy sounds like a real creep.) Or was it both? Both would lend some delicious shades of grey to Brimstone’s motivations here, and I’m all for some good shades of grey. Also, exactly how much of all of this does Akiva know about? Did Brimstone ever tell him anything? If not, how much of his own story following Madrigal’s death will he decide to share?
Most importantly, though: What is Karou going to make of all this? Will she understand (remember) everything that came before, or will Akiva have to explain regardless? I WANT THAT WHOLE CONVERSATION.
I’m not losing sight of the fact that Karou, and not merely Madrigal in a reincarnated form, is the protagonist here, and I’m sincerely hoping the author didn’t either…
Let’s read on, shall we?