The books: Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, and Dreams of Gods and Monsters
The music: “Who You Say You Are” by Eels
Book 1 in this series was recommended to me at a writing conference I was at lat month. I don’t remember why, other than it had something to do with my new series of fairy tales maybe? Some aspect of storytelling or craft I was supposed to use as an example. Regardless, I’m always looking for something new to read, so I picked this up.
The first book definitely falls into urban fantasy. The main character, Karou, is a teenage girl living in Prague, with a vague backstory that’s slowly revealed to readers in little drips. We find out that she was raised by a family of chimeras, and she does tasks for the head guy, Brimstone. Then everything falls apart when some angels appear and destroy everything.
Book 1 is great. Great characters, great pacing, great job of giving us bits and pieces of backstory that fit with how Karou finds out things. It ends with this heartwrenching cliffhanger that propels us straight into book 2.
Book 2 is not really urban fantasy. It’s more dark fantasy that’s still clinging to being urban fantasy. And at this point, the little drips of backstory are getting annoying, as is the foreshadowing comments the author has started throwing in. “Karou wanted this to be the best night ever. It wouldn’t be.” “Akiva wanted this moment to last forever. Little did he know, all hell was about to break loose.”
Book 2 blurs into book 3, which was a bit better in that it wrapped things up, but it introduced a whole new subplot that wasn’t necessary. And again, there’s all this stuff thrown at us that the characters know, yet we the readers don’t. It reminds me of the movie Oceans 11. Remember the ending? The audience thinks they know what’s happening with the heist, but then we’re shown the sleights of hand that allowed them to pull it all off. Well, that works in a movie, but not in a book where we have a close 3rd person POV. We should know all the characters thoughts and memories and actions, but I felt like we were left in the dark just for big reveal moments.
There’s also a standalone novella, Night of Cake and Puppets, about how one of the side characters met her boyfriend, but I only read the first few pages because it’s written in first person present tense POV and is tonally much different than the rest of the series, and I just couldn’t get into it.
Overall, it’s not a bad series. I love the characters, especially Akiva, who’s that perfect broken hero who just needs a hug to help him through his redemption arc. Karou is great too, as a spunky female heroine in way over her head. The plot goes off the rails, but I still recommend the series.
The music for this series is “Who You Say You Are” by Eels. Not only do the lyrics fit with the series, especially the relationship between Akiva and Karou, but Eels are a great band that more people should listen to.