Please note: My “Reading Reflections” are not reviews. They are simply my thoughts in response to certain passages.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Andy and I happened to be in the car when I finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone. After reading the last words, I closed the cover, took a deep breath, turned to him with tears in my eyes, and said, “This book devastated me.”

He laughed.

But it’s true! Karou and Akiva (and Brimstone — oh, Brimstone!) broke my freaking heart. Laini Taylor is so talented and so, so cruel.

I knew from Lips Touch that Laini was a masterful writer, but her elegant, unpretentious prose still took me by surprise. Took me on a journey. Made me tingly with emotion. Made me green with envy.

(Bottom line: I would pretty much murder someone to write as well as Laini does.)

So these “Reading Reflections” are going to be fairly light on the Reflections. They’re basically just the passages I swooned over. Oh, and while the US cover is fine, I used the UK cover for this post because I think it’s positively gorgeous.

Karou wished she could be the kind of girl who was complete unto herself, comfortable in solitude, serene. But she wasn’t. She was lonely, and she feared the missingness within her as if it might expand and… cancel her. She craved a presence beside her, solid. Fingertips light at the nape of her neck and a voice meeting hers in the dark. Someone who would wait with an umbrella to walk her home in the rain, and smile like sunshine when he saw her coming. Who would dance with her on her balcony, keep his promises and know her secrets, and make a tiny world wherever he was, with just her and his arms and his whisper and her trust. (70-71)

Swoooooooon. We’ve all felt that longing, haven’t we?

(Just in case that passage gives you the wrong impression: Karou is an extremely strong heroine, in every way. But she’s human too, with all the complex emotions and desires that go along with that.)

“Have you ever asked yourself, do monster make war, or does war make monsters?” (123)

A good question indeed. One that many individuals (and societies) throughout history probably should have asked themselves. One that we still need to be asking.

“There are things bigger than any wish.”
“Like what?”
“Most things that matter.” (144)

“I hope, child, but I don’t wish. There’s a difference.”

She turned this over in her mind, thinking that if she could come up with the difference, it might impress him. Something occurred to her, and she struggled to put it into words. “Because hope comes from in you, and wishes are just magic.”

“Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.” (144-145)

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.” (290)

One of the central themes in this book was magic, wishing, and hope — the distinctions and the overlaps between those three. Many of us use those terms interchangeably (magic and wishes; wishes and hope) but I think Laini really teases out the nuances of the words.

As a reader and writer, I’ve always thought that nuances are what make language so lovely. And powerful.

“Love is a luxury.”
“No. Love is an element.”
An element. Like air to breathe, earth to stand on. (365)

Siiiigh. That is some serious crack to romantics like me.

There was almost always something to take delight in, if you were trying. But this was different. It couldn’t be contained. She sometimes imagined it streaming out of her like light.

Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort. It was all those things, intertwined with the heat and the thrill, and it was as bright within her as a swallowed star. (399)

First, I like the idea that there’s always something to be happy about. Not so much in the silver lining sense, but more like… just having a bright outlook. Appreciating the small pleasures in life instead of only seeking or being satisfied with the big ones.

Second, I know that kind of happiness, and I feel lucky to be able to say that.

Like this:



A night under the stars


NaNo? Nah, no(t for me)


  1. Hmm. I like this, and your outlook noted at the end. Feels so good to enjoy EVERYTHING rather than just huge, drastic events.

    Might have to pick this one up too :)

  2. Ingrid

    I think that book has devastated me just from your blog post! Major sa-woon. Laini Taylor is amazing. Can’t wait to read it.

  3. Juliann Wetz

    Thanks for this reflection. I just added this book to my TBR list.

  4. Ah, falling in love with a book is amazing. I haven’t had that experience in a while. The closest I’ve come in the last few months are the Sarah Caudwell books, but they poke a lot fun at everything, so while I love them, I’m not IN love with them; my heart does not quiver at the thought of them. This Friday, I embark on my novel-reading ban while I write, but hopefully I’ll find that in love feeling with a novel in late winter or spring.

  5. This book is on my list, but after reading those passages, it’s moving up higher!

  6. Torie Michelle

    I want to read this book just based on the last lines you quoted: “Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer….” So poetic!

  7. Those parts you quoted are utterly gorgeous. I’m in the mood for some romance right now ;)

  8. Jon

    Love the UK cover! Also, that description of home is very sweet…

  9. This book is the first I’ve read by Laini Taylor and I was blown away. I love how poetic her writing is and her descriptions are absolutely beautiful. I knew after reading the first chapter that Daughter of Smoke and Bone was going to be amazing.
    And I also knew that I was going to be just the teensiest bit jealous of her too (Read:I completely agree with your line ‘I would pretty much murder someone to write as well as Laini does’ haha).

  10. Ingrid-
    I think you’re going to LOVE it.

    After your novel-reading ban, I think you should pick this one up. Or at least, I’m curious if you’ll like it.

    Hehe, I’m sure we’re not the only 2. But I wouldn’t murder HER, because then I couldn’t read her work!! Btw, if you liked DOSAB, try Lips Touch. It’s the only other thing I’ve read by her, and it’s also wonderful.

  11. I’m so, so glad! This book was was so incredibly difficult to write about as a reviewer because I wasn’t sure which part to discuss – the breathtaking setting? the characters I fell in love with? the amazing tension and discovery? THE WORDS?

    The more I read the more I’m hooked by turn of phrase and word usage and this one had me from the very first couple pages. I had a hard time leaving the world she created when I finished.

    And *Brimstone*. Oh. My heart’s breaking and piecing itself together all over again.

  12. FOR REALZ. Thanks again for sending us the ARC! I’m planning on buying my own copy anyway, both of DOSAB and Lips Touch. (Xmas gifts to myself, hehe.)

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