A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the publisher targets Daughter of Smoke & Bone as young adult (12 and up), but it is really mature young adult fare: 14 and up, mostly due to sexual themes such as the loss of virginity (and regret of it) and a forbidden, intense relationship that includes sex (though it's not described in any detail). There are sad deaths, fighting with knives resulting in stab wounds, a beheading, and the description of a never-ending war between angels and chimaera with many dead. Readers get much food for thought on the power of hope and the cost of war.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Seventeen-year-old Karou is living in two very different words. In one she's at art school in Prague with her own apartment and the unwanted attentions of a gorgeous but shallow ex-boyfriend. But when she passes through a portal she's in a shop run by the chimaera monsters who raised her. The shop is filled with teeth of all kinds and the portal opens out to places around the world where Karou can "run errands" to get more teeth from some rather shady brokers who are paid in wishes. The purpose of the teeth is a mystery to Karou, as is where she really came from. Then she's cornered and stabbed near the portal in Marrakesh by a warrior seraphim named Akiva. And worse yet, the portals suddenly burn up, closing her link to her adopted family. She's determined to find a way back to them, but when Akiva finds her in Prague, her plans get sidetracked. Why are they so drawn to each other? The truth they discover is both beautiful and heart-wrenching.
Is it any good?
Readers are treated to descriptions of Prague that are almost as compelling as the unfolding story, and the writing is really quite good. YA romantic fantasy seems to be the gateway for many inexperienced writers who often get by on the same formula: too-perfect otherworldly hunk courts average teen girl with lots of longing and intensity. Here we have the too-perfect-looking angel and the intensity, but the girl is far from average (she knows kung fu, for starters) and a total mystery. And there's layer upon layer of other mysteries besides. Each goes in a direction the reader often never expects.
The author is a National Book Award finalist for her short story collection Lips Touch: Three Times, so it's not a surprise for her fans. The last page has a "... to be continued," so expect more refreshingly well-written romantic fantasy to come.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about angels and their succeeding the vampire as the next heartthrob. What's similar about Akiva and say, Edward from Twilight? What's different?
Families can also talk about the creation story told from the angel's perspective and the chimaera's. How is prejudice woven into both? Can you think of well-known stories in our world that have clear prejudices?
How is this view of angels different from what religious traditions tell us? How is it the same?
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