Okay, all right, I know what you guys are thinking: I must be the last person on Earth to have read this novel (okay I exaggerate, but still.) The thing is that although I enjoyed the first two books in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series, they didn’t grab me enough to me want to read the finale right away. However I don’t regret having read Dreams of Gods & Monsters. This one hooked me and had me on the edge of my seat, and I am so, so glad that I decided to complete this series.
What it’s about
Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.
When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited – not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.
But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?
The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as – from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond – humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.
What I liked
The world-building in this series is amazing. In this book we get the sense of how huge Karou and Akiva’s world is- not just Eretz and the Earth, but it encompasses the entire universe. We learn about the fascinating setting and magic, and we also get to know the different species and cultures that coexist, the different languages that people speak, the myths that they believe in, and the history that shaped it. We get the sense that the world is huge and that we are only seeing the surface of it in this book.
I am enchanted by the story. In this last book of the series, I began to fully appreciate the intricate story of Karou and Akiva, of the chimaera and the angels, and of Eretz and the Earth and other worlds. The story is full of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. We learn the backstory that brews beneath the surface and the backstory behind the backstory. I love how complex the storylines become and how the author keeps the tension brewing until the very end.
It’s a page turner (figuratively speaking, since I listened to the audiobook). This took me by surprise because typically each Laini Taylor book takes me a long time to read and digest. However this time I finished the book in less than a week. After the halfway mark, I am finding every moment I could to listen to the audiobook just to find out what is happening next. Laini Taylor has a way of ending each chapter on a curious note, so that I kept wanting to read the next one.
The audiobook narration is awesome. I love the added touch of background music in a few notable chapters. The narrator does a great job with the variety of voices and bringing this book to life.
What I am on the fence about
As you may know by now, I struggle a bit with Laini Taylor’s writing. My first impression was that it is too elaborate and too detailed. Sometimes I still get impatient with the long descriptions and introspection, and I am thinking “okay all right just get on with it.” However as I was reading this book, I began to appreciate the vividness of Laini Taylor’s writing and her creative use of similes and metaphors. She really has a way of describing everything in a precise and lyrical way to match the exceptional worldbuilding. That being said, I do still have the occasional “get on with it!” moments.
As for the characters, I don’t dislike Karou and Akiva. Their stories are brilliant and I wanted them to overcome their struggles, but I have trouble connecting to them as people. Maybe because they are too beautiful and too perfect? I will roll my eyes if one more person falls in love with either Karou or Akiva. I also don’t quite get the chemistry between Karou and Akiva, and I wish there were more scenes between the two to develop the relationship further. That being said, I love the secondary characters who have distinct personalities and struggles of their own. (My favourites are Ziri, Liraz and Hazael.)
The Bottom Line: 4/5 stars
Looking for a fantasy series of epic proportions? Daughter of Smoke and Bone may be your best bet, with amazing worldbuilding and complex layers of story that builds up beautifully in this last novel.