Laini Taylor is, quite simply, an incredibly talented writer. If she wrote a short story about someone eating a ham sandwich I would read it. I became hooked on Laini Taylor after picking up LIPS TOUCH THREE TIMES and my fascination continues. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is riveting in a way that makes you forget that you have to pee by page 25, and ignore the warm puddle around you on page 200.
It is primarily a love story, which isn’t up BBC’s alley. But good writing is. Our main character, Karou, whose tresses are naturally an unlikely shade of peacock blue, is an art student in Prague who keeps the truth of her family from her fellow students. She was raised by a group of chimaera – creatures formed by an amalgamation of animal (and occasionally human) parts. Her monster family is kind and gentle, though imposing, and she was raised in a dusty shop where the aptly named hunters come to trade the teeth of their victims for wishes. Karou is an experienced teeth-gatherer, and she runs errands for her monstrous family in the real world, collecting 300lb elephant tusks at underground auctions in Paris, and returning home to her flat in Prague the same evening by way of the magical door of the shop that can take her wherever she needs to be – as long as someone is on the other side to open it.
Although entirely acclimated and terribly attached to her non-human family, Karou has struggled with a pervading sense of wrongness her entire life, as if she were meant to be leading another life somewhere else. But the ethereal feelings slip away from her whenever she tries to pin them down. Despite her yearning to know the truth of her origins and the mysterious hamsa tattoos on her palms, her chimaera family will forever remain silent on both topics.
But Karou is not the oddest creature prowling the streets of Prague. Alarmingly beautiful people are appearing all over the world, marking doorways with black handprints and then disappearing. The news is ablaze with talk of angels, and when Karou crosses paths with a particularly handsome one, her past begins to unravel.