As expected, November’s discussion of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor was fantastic! Unfortunately, a few of our steepers weren’t able to join, but those who were able to attend enjoyed a cuppa, some angel food cake, and lively conversation about this interesting title.
Now, Read It & Steep is a group that is made up of women … alas, I think the amount of estrogen in the room scared our one repeat male patron away … with lots and lots of opinions. If you have experience with book clubs you know that a group where all the members like the exact same things can get kind of boring. So, I was pleased when all the attendees actually LIKED the book and we still had plenty to talk about. Even one of our staunch anti-romance members came away smiling … because this book turns out to be so much more than “a paranormal romance.”
We were all a little worried going in, since we’d just read two other “paranormal romances” in a row (The Night Circus & A Discovery of Witches). The universal response to Witches seemed to be disappointment, so many of us approached Daughter of Smoke and Bone with considerable trepidation. Little did we know that a complete world with dynamic characters and an intriguing story lay beneath this book marketed for young adults. Steeper Tara laughs when she claims that it sounds silly to say that Daughter of Smoke and Bone which has parts taking place in a fantastic realm feels more realistic than A Discovery of Witches, a novel that takes place in England, France, and the US. Yet it does! Where Deborah Harkness’ world seems contrived, Taylor’s is fluid and constructed in a manner where you just believe every word she says.
Harkness’ “grand romance” between her characters drags on in choppy repetition, plus it seems rather ridiculous (a fiercely independent woman hates a man and then loves him so much the next day that she would rather die than live without him? Is this a Lifetime movie?) Taylor weaves a seamless world, where even if the characters fall in love quickly, it feels natural and fully explored.
Steeper Maureen put it best (forgive my paraphrasing, she used hand gestures) when she described the romance as taking up only a little space in the novel, but feeling huge.
Moreover, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is about love on so many levels. It’s about the love we feel for our families, our friends, our lovers, and mostly ourselves. It’s a study of Karou’s relationships and it’s beautifully done. We get first row seats as Karou explores and discovers herself and how she connects to the people in her life, both in the magical chimera world and in modern Prague. I personally loved that the reader even gains an understanding of her relationship with peripheral characters like her ex-boyfriend’s new girl. It’s definitely worth a read. I know I can’t wait to dive into Days of Blood & Starlight.