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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 10/100: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

— feeling angel
Daughter of Smoke & Bone - Laini Taylor

Read Harder Reading Challenge Item: An audiobook that won an Audie award.

I've come to realize that the books I listen to when I do my monthly "cooking days" (6-12 hrs of cooking, which I then freeze and eat throughout the month) tend to get a "bump" in star ratings -- I think almost everything I've listened to on "cooking days" has received either 4 or 5 stars from me.

I only include this preamble because I think it's worth noting that a story can have a bigger impact when one has the chance to ingest it all in a short amount of time and appreciate the entire story and character arc. I think this is why we so often consider books we read all in one day to be so good -- so the question is then, did we read it all in one day because it was so good (i.e., we couldn't pull ourselves away) or did we think it was so good because we read it all in one day, and thus had a better opportunity to see what the author set out to accomplish?

All that is to say, I really enjoyed this book -- found myself utterly swept away, in fact -- even though it started out a little slow for me and also veers more toward paranormal or urban fantasy than straight-up fantasy, which I tend to enjoy more. Initially I wasn't sure I would be able to get behind the love story -- I'm still not sure I'm altogether "behind" it, although I did get more caught up in its origin than I expected. There are a few intriguing aspects of the first half of the book, including questions about Karou's identity and the creatures she sees and interacts with that exist apart from what most of the world is able to see. But for me, it's the latter part of the book that is really captivating -- not surprising, I suppose, since it veers more into traditional fantasy territory.

Overall, what sticks with me about this book is its haunting images -- fitting, perhaps, since Karou is an artist. I look forward to seeing how these images manifest onscreen in the movie adaptation. Although it will be live action, I would love to see the chimera animated -- it could be gorgeous.

It does some interesting things with angel mythology, although it is the chimera that are most compelling. I could have done without all the descriptions of how otherwordly hot Akiva was, but the descriptions of Madrigal's beauty were unusual enough to rise above typical paranormal romance fare. Still, as much as I liked Madrigal's backstory, the most compelling relationship in the book is not the love story between Akiva and Karou or Akiva and Madrigal, but the one between Karou and her father figure, Brimstone -- probably the most fascinating character in the book.

I kept sort of wishing this book was about college-age or older characters, though, since they all seem too "old" to be high schoolers, both in their general maturity level and in the way they live their lives. Karou has an apartment of her own, and her best friend lives with an elderly aunt who is not even mentioned until halfway through the book. It just felt like they were far too unfettered by adult supervision to really be teenagers, even if they were in an "artsy" boarding school in Europe.

Finally, the audio version of this is definitely worthwhile. I'm pretty sure it won the Audie for Kristine Hvam's portrayal of Razgut alone.