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“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” – Laini Taylor
The synopsis was all I had, to judge the book with. I was unaware of the crazy hype it has received over the years. Owing to that, I could have easily passed it over assuming it another cliche love story. But, I’m glad I gave it a chance. Or else I would have missed the opportunity of stepping into this fantastic magical world created by Laini Taylor.
I’m still gloating over the drunken bliss and and don’t you judge me for spilling too much beans for you to digest. I’m probably going to rant all I want, until I somewhat hush my inner demons now going gaga over the awesomeness of the story and its characters. Want to save the fun? Skip the review, and grab the book at Amazon.
Daughter of smoke and bone is a young fantasy novel and is the first book of the trilogy. Following it are ‘Days of Blood and Starlight’ and ‘Dreams of Gods and Monsters’.
If you are the kind of reader who craves for magic, monsters, fantasy, action and are fine with little drizzles of romance, it is just the book for you. It rarely happens that we dive so deep into a book that we forget our own existence and walk down that fictional land under the skin of our favorite character. Good news is it is the kind that will make you live the story in a dangerously realistic way. For me it was like slipping into their world and running with the characters as if I had known them for ages. I was drowning in emotions. Fear, pain, remorse, hatred, love, vengeance, power, bliss. A brilliantly choreographed chaos of events. I experienced a whole different world in it. And of course a good taste of life and death.
Before I brief you with the characters and the plot, I am taking an attempt at describing Taylor’s breathtakingly beautiful writing style. There were moments I gasped, put the book down, closed my eyes and said the words out loud. Simple, short and crisp dialogues exchanged between the two lovers. But good lord what intensity. She as a writer has succeeded in doing justice to her wildly brilliant imagination by giving them a body so poetic and perfect. This book is nothing but a work of art.
I have a strangely strong fascination for monsters. And that is one reason why this book swept me off my feet. I’m sure every other reader would love these characters as much as I did. And in case you are that fussy reader who calls magic ‘abnormal’ and monsters ‘gross’ you may go back to your sunshine books. Forget about The Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter series; this is one of its kind.
The first few chapters hit me hard and I instantly knew it was an original and uniquely bewitching story. And as they say first impression lasts long, that’s precisely what happened here I guess. The first impression that it gave me was so damn appealing and strong that there was no slowing down or turning back. It took me on a roller coaster ride, which needless to say was mind boggling. Fast, reckless, magical, unpredictable, and oh so brilliant in all aspects.
There are numerous instances that prove that Taylor has let her imagination run far and high, tapping into ideas that are absolutely top-notch. Imagination has gotten into numerous minute details of this story. And being wrapped up with the right choice of words they have come out with flying colors. It’s a compelling work of adult fantasy that would grip your heart and mind in a tight clasp and take you on a ride to remember.
Beware of spoilers.
It is a mysterious story that revolves around a 17 year old girl Karou . At first she appears like a normal teen, who studies art at Prague, has a close friend Zuzana and a stalking ex-boyfriend Kazimir. But later, as the story progresses and her secret errands come to light we get to know that she is different, being raised by four Chimaeras. Her art is mostly inspired by the monster-like creatures she has known for real. Now for the question who are Chimaeras, they are a community we are not familiar with. Having some of their physical characteristics like animals and birds, and some like humans, they are residents of a completely different world, which even if not ours feels just as real.
The head of her so called Chimaera family, Brimstone is a fatherly figure for Karou and is the earliest memory of her childhood. He is a sorcerer of sorts and occasionally sends her on teeth-collecting errands to far off places round the world through magic portals. And what do they do with those jars of teeth? That’s for you to unfold. On one such errand fate takes a turn and things go terribly wrong. But right after that, Karou’s curiosity gets the better of her and she steps into the forbidden land of the Chimaeras. She is taken aback by the things she discovers and feels betrayed by Brimstone for keeping her in the dark. But much to her dismay, she does not get an explanation. The portals are burnt by Angels to hinder the work of the devils or Chimaeras. And in the age old war between the devils and angels, naive Karou becomes the victim and gets stranded in the world of humans.
The story gets another high with the entry of the sinfully gorgeous and impossibly perfect Angel Akiva into Karou’s life. Then on, the flight of fantasy gets quite serious and all humor is left at bay. Behind his longing and mutual attraction for Karou lies a story untold. A story so painfully beautiful, you’ll probably curse me if I lay it bare with my emotionless summary. Its a story of love and war. Will the age old war between the Seraphims and the Chimaeras destroy the love of Karou and Akiva? Or will they be able to keep their love unscathed?
I’m off to grab the second one in the series. Read the book and enjoy the magical journey. Thank me later nerds 😉
a shimmering mirage.
An embodiment of reverie and deceit.
a sweet lullaby that makes me dreamy.
A holy chant that awakens my inner beasts.
His piercing blue eyes,
haven for raging storms of venom.
A fathomless ocean threatening to drown me whole.
a dangerous territory.
The devil has trapped me there for eternity.
skilled and addictive.
A magic spell that is too strong to break.
His chiseled body,
like a lifetime’s work of a passionate sculptor.
Reincarnation of the Greek Gods.
His calm mannerism,
like a sea that has battled the worst of storms.
The mystifying silence that puts words to shame.
a sensation that burns into the skin.
The kind that leaves a sweet ache lingering.
He is the book I read and re-read,
and happily stay pressed among its pages.
Suffocated and intoxicated, yet gloating in a thousand sentiments.
He is the desert while I’m the lone wanderer,
looking for an oasis within his barren heart.
Like a moth drawn towards fire, knowing its a death trap.
He is the journey that has no end.
The more I explore, the more I find.
Life feels like a treasure hunt, with him by my side.
He is not a dream but a nightmare that freezes my heart cold.
My escape from reality.
Waking up to the familiar pain shooting through his neck
and a grumbling stomach put through endless tortures by time travel juice,
ignoring the mind numbing headache
his eyes transfixed to those rolling empty bottles effortlessly trying to seduce.
As his lustful lips longed for a sip of the poison
driving him ill at ease,
his parched throat let out a pained groan
begging for his thirst to appease.
Crawling his way to the well stashed bar in the living room
he felt like a stubborn and naive kid.
As he dragged himself thoughtlessly towards his doom
he yearned for nothing but from his burning thirst getting rid.
Right when he wrapped his fingers round the bottle of ill fame
to quench the thirst that understood no bargain,
he heard the voice of his deceased beau calling out his name
from a far corner of the outstretched garden.
Stumbling and falling every few steps on his way outside,
as he ran clumsily towards the voice of his sweetheart,
the distance kept growing with every step forward
and he felt his insides into a thousand pieces being ripped apart.
Screaming his heart out as he squandered whatever remaining zeal
he ultimately gave up on existance and the willingness to live.
And as if to quench his thirst and fulfill his dying wish
a drop of dew sitting atop a grass blade brushed upon his lips.
Thinking about finally joining his beloved in God’s abode above or under,
seconds before the soul’s departure he was washed over with bliss.
And counting his final breaths he smiled like a baby in deep slumber
letting the fact sink in that the dew drop was life’s ultimate goodbye kiss.
Written by Victor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning is “a classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust”. I still can’t believe that I laid my hands on such a remarkable and fantastic work. It is the kind of book that possesses the power to turn one’s life around. It would pick your broken pieces and give you the psychological tools to get the pieces back in place and redeem your life all at once. I feel like I read it in one breath. And now that it’s over I feel like I’m earnestly and almost thirstily breathing an air better than the one before I beheld the book. One filled with freshness and hope. It would make you appreciate your life and be thankful for the problems you have encountered, however brutal they once felt like. I highly recommend it to all the readers and non-readers as well. Good news for non-readers is that it is a quick read and would leave a chip on the back of your head, that would give a direction to your life.
Countless works have been produced in order to help us find the purpose of our lives and lead a life of meaning and example. But, only a few such as this have had the power to reach deep into one’s soul and impacting us in ways we had been promised. It is a book of modest volume and can be easily read in one sitting. However the impression it would leave on you would undoubtedly last a lifetime. Life is a one time opportunity, yet many of us give up when the times are tough. This book would, in many ways, make your problems seem too trivial to put your life at halt for. It would introduce your own strengths to you. Trust me when I say that it is one of it’s kind in survival literature.
Victor E. Frankl was a professor at Vienna Medical School where he taught neurology and psychiatry until his death in 1997. He remains a much revered hero of many. And the book having sold more than 12 million copies, speaks for itself. It more or less, reminded me of Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl. What is common to both is their way of getting the readers emotionally involved and leaving us with the feeling that we have personally experienced some of their grief and hence we understand what they are speaking of. Along with the numerous accounts of the horrors faced by the author, there also are lessons of life spoken with such passion and positiveness in the face of unimaginable adversities, that leave the reader with nothing but respect and admiration for the survivor. One of the biggest lessons here is to deal with every situation with the best of your faculties, for we can’t control the situations but our attitudes. In Frankl’s words “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
The book is divided into two parts. The first part comprises of an autobiographical story where Frankl gives accounts of his depressing and painful life at different Nazi concentration camps during World War II, including at Auschwitz. While the prisoners were treated like animals with no identity, many of them couldn’t stand the physical and emotional torture. Yet there were many, who kept the virtues of humanity flaming within and denied to become what was expected of them. They chose to stick to their lives as respectable humans with empathy and zeal. Frankl has presented many such instances where he empathizes with others and happily puts in little possible efforts from his side so as to help his fellow inmates. In the second part of the book he introduces to the readers the concept of Logotherapy and then onward we are introduced to numerous other technical terms and application of the therapy in different spheres of life.
Having a Psychologist in the family, I have come across some beautiful and astounding techniques of Psychotherapy. So, perhaps that was the reason I saw Logotherapy in a clearer light and absolutely loved the vivid descriptions of real life implications. However, it is absolutely fine if you don’t want to bother yourself with the statistics, therapeutic descriptions or findings included in the later part of the book.
If I am asked to give out my favorite parts, I would end up writing down the whole book here. For each page had something brilliant to offer. Laced with helplessness was a shimmer of hope, which kept Frankl going. At a point of time, a thought transfixed him. That love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. And he concluded that “The salvation of man is through love and in love.” While his life was falling apart he created his wife’s image in his mind with much acuteness and clung to it as if his life depended upon it. It was a beautiful and touching part.
There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is meaning in one’s life. There is much wisdom in the words of Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
Another part that left me awed was the story of Death in Teheran, and the way the Author compared it to the ill fate that his inmates faced later.
A rich and mighty Persian once walked in his garden with one of his servants. The servant cried that he had just encountered Death, who had threatened him. He begged his master to give him his fastest horse so that he could make haste and flee to Teheran, which he could reach that same evening. The master consented and the servant galloped off on the horse. On returning to his house the master himself met Death, and questioned him, “Why did you terrify and threaten my servant?” “I did not threaten him; I only showed surprise in still finding him here when I planned to meet him tonight in Teheran,” said Death.
While going through the photographs which had been taken at a different camp, the author stumbled across the images of partially charred bodies of his friends who had then thought that they were traveling to freedom, the night they were loaded into a truck and taken to another camp. But actually were locked in huts and set on fire. Frankl reflected upon the fact that how fickle human decisions can bring major impacts upon the destiny. How fate had toyed with him and the remaining prisoners who got to live.
In the whole story, there are umpteen accounts of death. Somewhere, someone is dying every once in a while. And yet, the essence of LIFE has been so well propagated through it. In the later part of the book where Logotherapy has been discussed, many other aspects have been brought to light. The meaning of life, love and suffering could not have been explained any better, in such short an excerpt.
And ah, what profound ending.
“So, let us be alert-alert in a twofold sense:
Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of.
And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.”