Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone paints a portrait of a typical seventeen-year-old with a troublesome ex and a loyal best friend – just another average teenager but for her kookiness and penchant for tattoos. But the picture is not as first framed. In a secret secondary existence, orphan Karou traverses portals to ‘Elsewhere’ to run bizarre errands for Brimstone: the half-human half-beast that raised her.
When her worlds are thrown into chaos by an alluring angel’s destruction of the doors to ‘Elsewhere’, Karou is forced to uncover the truth about her relationships – both familial and romantic – and most crucially the complex elements of her own identity.
In this review, attention is drawn to the intriguing and visually engaging design features of the paperback edition: the collapsed book and the handprint. These elements of the clever cover are worth noting for their flawless illustration of two triumphant and truly original aspects of Laini Taylor’s ‘break out’ novel.
The collapsed book –
The cover depicts an aging book with scattered pages: the majority of the loosened pages are planted within twentieth century Prague – depicted by rusty red walls and cobble stones – while others are escaping through the ajar door to the shadowed and mysterious Elsewhere. However, on closer inspection you’ll notice hints of a third, barely visible handful of pages engrained within the pavestones of the city.
These remnants of pages within the stone represent the second awe-inspiring and heart-stopping story revealed in the latter half of Taylor’s novel. A captivating centuries old war between seraphim and chimaera (angels and monsters) and a bittersweet love affair across enemy lines is written beneath and depicted within the tale of the kooky errand-girl Karou. It is this multi-layered palimpsest nature of Daughter of Smoke and Bone that sets it apart from the crowd as a fesh, poll-topping piece of writing.
The handprint –
A handprint is embossed on the doorway to Elsewhere; the five-fingered mark of seraphim, Akiva. In Christian tradition, Angels take human form and are the guardians of humanity. Chimaera, on the other hand, are the grotesque half-human, half-beast from Greek mythology – satanic omens of disaster that will befall the human race.
In Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini challenges our expectations; the humanoid Angels are the savages possessing a touch that can destroy the doors to ‘Elsewhere’ whereas the monstrous chimaera have gently nurtured and protected Karou. The second noteworthy aspect of this young adult novel is the epic scope of the questions it raises – Taylor dances between religion and myth to sway with the dichotomy of good vs. evil and the relationship between human and humanity (in the Christian sense of nurturing your fellow man).
This cleverly packaged edition impeccably translates the fresh remarkable aspects of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor’s multiple mesmerising narratives and epic scope. Delete your digital copies, you’ ll be sure to see an excess of paperbacks with collapsed books and handprints adorning the cover at airports and across beaches this summer!