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Daughter of Smoke and Bone-Book Review

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“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” – Laini Taylor

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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 😉

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And The Mountains Echoed

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If you have read ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ it is probably easy to convince you of the power and wisdom this book beholds by merely saying that Hosseini has maintained his standards. 

I was in high school when I read The Kite Runner for the very first time, and even though it is exceptionally brilliant it somehow tore me from within. Those disturbing scenes used to play in my mind over and over again whether I wanted them to or not. Hosseini has a knack for flawless story-telling and also magically climbing under the skin of the readers, gripping their heart in a tight fist and refusing to let go. A Thousand Splendid Suns speaks volumes about the plight of Afghanistan women. Despite of all those tears I shed leafing through the prior two works of Hosseini, I don’t mind re-reading them for the sake of reliving that pain. It’s that kind of pain which makes you feel human. The later will take you on an equally strong whirlwind of emotions.
And The Mountains Echoed is another heart wrenching tale by the author, which holds in one story the life of many. This book has given voice to a father, mother, stepmother, daughter, son, chauffeur, a war victim, brother, friend and more. Keep your eyes wide open to absorb the details. And the heart open to the emotions it will be flooded with. Countless emotions. Of family and friendship. Love and betrayal. Humanity and power. Vengeance and forgiveness.
SPOILERS AHEAD:
It is a story that spans through generations and underlines the fact that each and every choice we make resonates throughout our lives and those of every other person we become associated with.

Pari and Abdullah are the first two characters that fate plays an ugly game with. I sincerely mouthed a prayer when they were separated. God forbid any such thing happens to so little and naïve a girl, living with the feeling of an uncertain hollowness throughout her life only to find that she is related to a person by blood when the clock of life is ticking away. Time can be a cruel thing, isn’t it? When the moment you have been waiting for finally arrives, it teases you with a glimpse and fades away in no time, intensifying the pain borne through years.
The few yet heartwarming references of their childhood are enough to moisten  the eyes of the reader. Having lost their mother, and father forever busy making ends meet, they had none but each other. However their elders decided to make their life take another course. Two little people made of blood and flesh being treated as puppets. The girl eventually forgetting and moving on. Abdullah preserving all those precious few memories through years on end, waking up each day with the hope to be reunited with his little sister, Pari.

“I found a sad little fairy
Beneath the shade of a paper tree.
I know a sad little fairy
Who was blown away by the wind one night.”



The mentions of the magic that Urdu poetry carries draws me closer to the Afghan culture. I crave to know more of the place to which Rumi belongs. The place that has witnessed millions of survival stories. Of betrayal, death, hatred, violence, loss and with a few drizzles of life, love, beauty and hope. The stories that will make your heart clench and your mind numb.
I’m leaving it for the readers to explore about Mr Suleiman Wahdati, Mrs Nila Wahdati and Nabi. Each of these characters has lived life with their voice stifled and feelings unspoken. Life is nothing but a fair game. Everyone gets their share of rewards and punishments.
Zoom out from Afghanistan and zoom in at Tinos,Greece. Thalia and her mother Madaline come to visit Markos Varvaris and his mother Odelia( Odie) and what follows is a newly defined life for each of them. Each of these characters have their own story to tell. I loved the scene where Thalia teaches Markos how to build a camera and Morkos starts seeing her in another light. Preserving the picture he first clicked from the camera throughout his life clearly reflects his love for Thalia. Their relationship proves that we don’t become brother and sister by birth, but by accepting each others flaws with earnest. And blood does not make you family, your devotion and loyalty does.

This book is a crisscross of stories. Read it with patience and empathy. And yeah, better keep the tissues handy.