I’ve just finished the third volume in Laini Taylor’s fantasy trilogy Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Though aimed at a “young adult” readership, it certainly drew me in. It begins like an urban fantasy as a young girl in contemporary Prague tries to balance her two lives – one as a teenage art student, the other as ward and helper of a benign yet monstrous, otherworldly being. But by the end of the first volume we are plunged into the middle of a war between “angels” and “demons” from a parallel world, and the “urban” elements rapidly recede into the background to be replaced by a strange alien landscape.
This is not going to be a lengthy review; more of a recommendation. This is no ordinary “young adult” fantasy (not that I’m suggesting there is anything wrong with “young adult” – I’ve read some great stuff lately that was aimed at a younger market). Yes, the central characters (at least the human ones) are adolescents, and there is a tortured, angsty love story at the heart of the books. But don’t be fooled – this is a pretty grown-up read.
Taylor mixes familiar fantasy tropes with images and ideas of startling originality, and oh my, can this lady write. She is a truly gifted wordsmith, the sort of writer who conjures sentences which just make me feel like giving up, they are so good.
Give this trilogy a go, you won’t regret it.