Karou is a young orphan who has been adopted by demons and lives in Prague. Her days are spent in art school, interspersed with missions from her adopted demon father Brimstone to collect teeth. These missions take her around the world using magical doors. Brimstone is abrupt and distant in many ways and this troubles Karou, but she loves him none the less. It hurts Karou to see the results of her teeth gathering missions because not all teeth come from dead bodies. As a reward for her actions, Brimstone grants her the ability to make her minor wishes come true. This is why blue hair naturally grows out of her head.
Even though Karou has her adopted family the chimera and her best friend Zuzana, much of the time she feels isolated. Karou knows that Brimstone keeps secrets from her and she cannot share the little she knows with Zuzana, out of fear of not being believed and risking the only friendship she has managed to maintain. There are two tattoos on her palms that she is constantly asked about and she has no answers, wondering if she has been born with them.
Enter Akivia - the angel who has lost his soul and humanity. He is determined to bring an end to the chimera. When handprints start appearing on all of the portal doors around the world, Karou quickly finds herself caught up in a war that she didn't even know what going on. Karou must solve the mystery of who she is and try to find a way to save her adopted family.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone started off extremely strong. For seventeen, Karou proved to be a smart and capable protagonist. She survived being shot by criminals in her teeth collection missions and absolutely refuses to be used as a tool by her ex boyfriend. Karou is even inventive in her response to her ex cheating on her and trying to woo her back. At times, Karou has a strain of aloofness but that's quite normal for age. For the most part I really enjoyed her.
Just like Karou, I desperately wanted to know the importance of the teeth that Brmstone collected. I had very much hoped that this is where the story would center but alas, it was not to be. What started off as a great mystery to be solved, quickly turned into a Romeo & Juliet type love affair that I really could have done with out. Instead of really getting to know each other, Karou and Akiva spend so much time waxing on about their love. Akiva is the typical Y.A. male love interest: tortured. Of course, it's Karou's love which teaches him how to hope again and makes him smile. There is also the issue that Akiva actively stalks Karou and watches her sleep (yes, shades of Twilight)
Once Karou meets Akiva which I suppose is inevitable, all of her good sense goes out the window. Why does she invite this angel who tried to kill her into her home? Why does she introduce Akvia to her best friend in the world? Yes, Karou has her doubts but the fact is that she still allows an intimacy to develop with someone who clearly is keeping secrets and has tried to kill her on at least one occasion. The only reason I can fathom for this absolute breach of common sense is that Karou finds Akiva attractive. How do I know this? Well, for starters, I began to roll my eyes and struggle not to stop reading because of the copious descriptions of how beautiful Akiva is and Karou's desperation to capture his image. Then there is Zuzana, who repeatedly chants that Karou needs to mate with him and childish comments about Akiva's seed.
I perhaps could have gone along with the shift to a more childlike tone if the book had not shifted altogether to give us the story of Madrigal. Madrigal is of course beautiful and absolutely unaware of how beautiful she is. Madrigal is a chimera, who for some unknown reason decides to save Akiva's life after finding him wounded on the battlefield. Given the fact that the angels enslaved the chimera and used their pain to create magic, it makes no sense to me why she would instantly feel moved to save Akiva. He certainly wouldn't have been the first soldier that she has killed. It will be two years until Akiva and Madrigal meet again and in that time, they dream of each other. Naturally, the impossible happens and a romance ensues based once again mutual attraction. They spend one glorious month together before they are betrayed. Taylor does manage to weave these two stories together but it felt like I was reading two books in one and by then I really wasn't very interested anymore.
There were quite a few female characters in Daughter of Smoke & Bone. I particularly liked the relationship between Karou and Zuzana. They clearly care for each other and when Karou finally reveals that all of the fantastical creatures she draws are real, and are her family, Zuzana not only believes Karou but stays by her side. Zuzana is adamant that Karou cannot just take off on secret missions without telling her. Unfortunately, when the story shifts, we lose this relationship. I was less impressed with Madrigal's relationship with her foster sister Chiro. Naturally, Chiro is jealous because Madrigal is so beautiful and has a human aspect. I have to say that I will never understand why Taylor decided to give these creatures who never really spend time on earth the desire to look human, instead of the animal breeds that they are.