There is something about Laini Taylor’s writing that seems unbelievable to me. Not in the sense that she doesn’t portray realistic stories or characters, but in that I actually struggle to comprehend how one person can create something so beautiful with so many pages, and so many facets.
I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone a few years ago and then went on to read it’s sequel Days of Blood and Starlight when it came out, and I absolutely adored them. They were magical and the story was so unique. However, when the final instalment – Dreams of Gods and Monsters – came out, I just didn’t get around to reading it or reading much at all really. There was a stage where I would read books sporadically and only occasionally and I would prioritise everything else over them (binge-watching youtube videos like ‘the top 10 MALEC moments’ or taking quizzes to find out ‘what Harry Potter character are you?’. I can’t exactly say that they days of watching those videos or losing time taking ridiculous quizzes are over (who doesn’t want to know what kind of evil villain they would be?), but books have risen back into a place of priority. Nowadays, I cannot imagine not having a stack of books on the shelf at the head of my bed, book-marks protruding from their pages, stories waiting for me to indulge in every day. I cannot sleep without first reading a least a chapter of my current read, nor can I imagine having a bookshelf that isn’t packed with horizontal books, as well as vertical, because it is so full.
Since getting back into reading with a newfound intensity and love, I knew that I wanted to re-read Daughter of Smoke and Bone and finally read the finale. They were one of my first fantasy reads and I felt a loyalty to them and to the series. I bought the trilogy a couple of months back but was waylaid by other books and by my book-reading mood, and it was only a couple of books ago that I made a promise to myself that they would be next. It’s not that I didn’t want to read them, I think it was just that I didn’t remember how incredible they were, and perhaps my younger self didn’t appreciate what I do today. Because boy do I appreciate Laini Taylor and this series today. I finished Dreams of Gods and Monsters yesterday and was absolutely blown away. The plot went in a direction I never expected, characters grew in ways I didn’t anticipate, and the story itself continued to get more exciting and incredible, beyond the point when I already thought it was EPIC. I really struggle to put into words how I feel about something that I am passionate about as I either babble incoherently or I do not do it anywhere near the justice it deserves, so here are some dot points on my thoughts.
The writing: I honestly don’t think I have read a book with more beautiful language. It is intricate, poetic, beautiful, and yet so easy to follow. Some books contain sentences that are beautiful yes, but also take a few read-thoughts to properly grasp. There is not that issue with Laini’s writing. It strikes a balance between being flowery and concise enough that you don’t start daydreaming halfway through a sentence because it’s been too long since you’ve seen a full stop. As an aspiring author, she is my biggest inspiration.
The characters: Karou is one of my favourite protagonists, and probably one of the most realistic, believable characters that I have come across. She is not a flat cardboard cut-out character, nor does she ever do anything that seems out of character. She is interesting and brave and kick-ass while still being human and afraid and complex. She makes mistakes and has fears and shame and throughout the story she grows and learns and evolves. Akiva is a really interesting male lead and I love that he was a complex as Karou, and wasn’t just there to aid her character, but had his own arc and story and background. Also a special mention to Zuzanna who is probably one of my favourite characters in any story/film/anything EVER. She is just hilarious and evidence of Laini’s incredible wit and humour. Also her and Mik are such an addition to the entire story and I love them to pieces, and I just melted when Mik charmed the Chimaera with his violin. I don’t want to rave about every character because I honestly loved so many of them (Liraz, Hazael, Brimstone, Issa, The Shadows that Live etc), but I have to mention Ziri. SUCH A PURE SOUL. I was terrified after Days of Blood and Starlight that there would be a love triangle but Laini didn’t let me down and I didn’t have to suffer through that. His storyline was so sad and so beautiful and I am SO HAPPY that he exists (within the pages of a book counts as existing).
The plot: The way Laini weaves together the different plot points, the way the worlds work, and the character arcs, amazes me. At this point you’re probably thinking, ‘Cassie maybe you should just pen Laini Taylor a love letter and be done with it because you sound pathetic’. But LOOK, hear me out, this adoration is entirely deserved. Her world is magical, the plot is incredibly well thought out and the way it comes together in the end gave me goosebumps. MONSTERS bigger than planets pressing up agains the skin of the world!? What is more incredible? Maybe Ziri and Liraz finding each other in a war torn world?! But not much else I tell you.
There is no way I can really sum this up without continuing throw ‘amazing, beautiful, magical, incredible’ at you like I’m some sort of broken robot that can only repeat itself until it breaks down and ceases to function. So I will just say this: please read this series, you will not be sorry. Also, I love you Laini Taylor, you are a magic genius.