Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

My first book of 2012 is one that’s been calling me from my ‘to-be-read’ pile since it was published in September last year.  Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone is of those books where, as soon as I saw the front cover, I knew it was going to be good.  After finishing it today I wonder why it took me so long to get around to reading this beautiful story.

Karou is a seventeen-year-old at student living in Prague.  With her attitude, blue hair and tattoos, she stands out from the crowd. Her sketches of mysterious and beautiful creatures are the envy of her fellow students, including her best friend Zuzana.  No one knows about her other life, as the errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to a family.  Karou knows nothing of her real family, only Brimstone and the other chimaera who have raised her.  She has been raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere,’ the dark world which she knows little about.  As Brimstone’s errand girl, she travels the world buying teeth from murderers and hunters, trading them for wishes of various denominations.  Karou soon finds her world turned upside down when the seraphim destroy the portals back to Elsewhere, trapping her in our world, not knowing whether her family are alive or dead.  When one of the seraphim attacks her a train of events is set in motion that will lead her back to Elsewhere and the truth about who she is.

From the first chapter, Daughter of Smoke and Bone cast a spell on me and I was totally immersed in the story for days.  I felt like I was right there beside Karou and Akiva, from the streets of Prague and Marrakesh, to Brimstone’s shop and the caged city of Loramendi.  The sights and smells of these places were so vivid that, even when I wasn’t reading the book I was thinking about them.  Laini Taylor’s writing is absolutely beautiful and so full of emotion.  I wanted to keep reading particular sentences just to taste them.  Karou is a character that I really connected with because you could really get inside her head and know what she was feeling.  I felt her heartache, love, longing, loyalty and fear.  The thing I loved the most about the story was the creatures and places that Laini created.  The chimaera, which are made up of different animals and humans, reminded me of the mysterious creatures from Guillermo del Toro’s films, including Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy (especially the scene in Hellboy: The Golden Army at the troll market).

Daughter of Smoke and Bone ends on a cliff-hanger, with a heart-wrenching discovery so I will be eagerly awaiting the next book.  Until then, I’ll savour this beautiful story.

5 out of 5

Angel Creek by Sally Rippin

Jelly has just moved into a new house, in a new neighborhood that’s far away from all her friends.  If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s having to spend Christmas eve looking after her cousins.  There are only two things she likes about her new home: the old apricot tree  and the creek at the back of the house.  Jelly dares her cousins to go down to the creek and it’s in the creek’s dark waters that they discover a baby angel with a broken wing.  They decide to keep it in a shed at the school and nurse it back to health.

But soon things start to go horribly wrong; her grandmother gets sick, a tree falls on her uncle’s car and there’s  some very strange weather.  Jelly realizes that you’ve got to be careful what you wish for, especially when there’s an angel around.

Angel Creek is a mysterious, spooky story that makes you want to keep reading to find out how it ends.  Like Jelly and her cousins, Pik and Gino, you wonder why there is an angel in the creek and why all these strange things seem to be happening.  Even though bad things keep happening to those around them, the children are really brave and do all they can to protect the angel.  I loved Angel Creek and I’m sure you will too. 

Recommended for 9+   10 out of 10