Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Dynamic writing sets intense angel romance apart.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 13 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

There are themes here of resurrection and what happens to a soul after death that can be researched from the point of view of various religious traditions -- which one(s) does this book follow? There's also angel lore here, from the plight of fallen angels to the role of warrior angels, another fascinating topic of study.

Positive Messages

Karou's name means "hope," a central theme here, exploring why hope is better than magic or making wishes. War and what happens to longtime enemies is also explored, such as how the enemy can easily be demonized and misunderstood.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Karou often fights first, asks questions later, and her curiosity gets her in trouble, but she is fiercely loyal to her unconventional family. Akiva gives up love for vengefulness when he thinks all is lost, but makes a noble choice to be truthful when it will only cause him hurt.


Karou is attacked and attacks with knives and martial arts moves and once threatens a man with a gun; she is stabbed in a fight and slowly recovers. Descriptions of war dead and dying in world with angels and chimaera, plus that of a beheading. A man plummets to death off a tower. Karou is haunted by an image of trafficked girls with bloodied mouths who had their teeth taken. Akiva is taken from his mother at age 5 to be trained as a soldier, and he and his brother and sister have tattooed marks on their arms for each chimaera killed.


Male nakedness -- in the form of a disrobing for art students; Karou's ex-boyfriend poses to get a rise out of her and there's some discussion of his penis. Another creature straddles Karou naked in a fight. Mentions that 17-year-old Karou lost her virginity to her ex-boyfriend and her wish that she'd waited for someone better; her guardian also gives her a lecture about it. Two characters sneak away nightly for a love affair, but little is mentioned beyond rumpled clothes and kissing. Karou and Akiva kiss. Mention of seraphim visiting concubines -- different ones nightly -- who bear them soldiers. A monster licks Karou lasciviously.


"Bastard" and "jackass" are the most frequent. Also, "bitch," "damn," "Goddamn," "a--hole," and "hussy."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few mentions of students and others smoking, but not the main characters. Plus mentions of drunken dancing and passing out.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Written byAnonymous November 27, 2013

Loved this book

I was pre-reading for my 12 year old when I read this book which I fell in love with. It is, however, not for 12 year olds. The main character is 17 and engag... Continue reading
Adult Written byabbacus October 13, 2013

I would recommend....

When I picked up this book I was just thinking it was going to be another story about angles and good vs. bad and I wasn't expecting anything spectacular o... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byElissia.rosie.may February 23, 2020

So original

The world building is exceptional with each character completely unlike any other overdone fantasy character tropes. The characters are deeply layered with diff... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byvdntdkr July 15, 2018

A Great Blend of Romance and Fantasy!

Just like you are doing now, I searched on another website for good books for teens. I stumbled upon this book. When I read it I was hooked because there are so... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and romance

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