Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone

It occurs to me that I have not yet raved about a book in a while.

This should by no means imply that I haven't read any good books lately, but I'll admit that I've had a terrible time finding another book that can compare to this one that so utterly floored me. Does this happen to you? Where the short-term options all seem less so because your heart isn't in it, having already been won-over? Then you understand my difficulty. I read a book like this over the summer and have yet to fully recover.

Enough of a tease? Let me tell you about the one that stopped me in my tracks at BEA; the one whose ripples still lap at the edges of my mind with vivid images and complex characters and beautiful turns of phrases that still resonate long, long, long after I sat craving more after the last page had turned: I'm raving about Laini Taylor's DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE.

What can I say that won't be too spoilery? Hmm. Karou has blue hair. She is an art student in Prague who sketches nudes, eats goulash, and on the side, collects teeth for her otherworldly guardian, Brimstone. She has a best friend, an ex-boyfriend, and a pretty amazing sketchbook. And there's a really hot guy (pun intended) with golden eyes rimmed in black, like a jaguar, who is leaving hand prints on doors all over the world. Oh, and everything you *think* you've figured out in the beginning of the story is wrong--dead wrong--in all the right ways.

That should do it.

I am an unapologetic fan of art and culture, myth, and folklore as well as having a dark delight in making the brain do a one-eighty, and I can say confidently that this book has it ALL! The only thing I could rightly compare it to was an early Neal Stephenson book, SNOW CRASH; the sole example of a book combining avatars, computer hackers, skateboarding, class wars, Kaballah, the Mob, and pizza delivery service. (And, c'mon, how can you *not* love a book whose main character is named Hiro Protagonist?) It's this conglomeration of details that seem disparate or only tangentially connected that are somehow artfully combined into an incredibly detailed, tight-knit whole that is at the same time touching and surprising, monstrous and amazing, empathic and deeply personal and confronting and cackling evilly all the while as the reader's head spins with each new twist, somehow just shy of popping off completely.

Yep, it's that kind of book.

Highly recommended but be warned: it raises the bar for every story thereafter. Read with caution: this book will blow you away!

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