My new Sunday Spotlight feature (which actually bears a striking similarity to my old Saturday Spotlight feature) will showcase some of my favourite recent books reviewed for the superb Bookbag site.
Warning: Spoilers below for Daughter of Smoke and Bone!
Karou and Akiva once dreamt of a peaceful world, but their dreams look further away from reality than ever. Is there any way that either of them can gain redemption?
If you haven't read the first book, that probably makes very little sense. This is intentional - if you haven't read the first book, this entire novel will make pretty much no sense, so I'd go and grab that one first. If you have read the first book, I'm hoping that you'll forgive me for the somewhat cryptic plot summary, because this is staggeringly hard to even begin to summarise without spoiling anything.
I have to be honest, I wasn't one hundred per cent sure I was going to read this one. I really liked most of Daughter of Smoke and Bone but felt that it trailed off once Akiva was introduced, and was a bit concerned this was going to be a let-down. I liked Karou enough to try this one anyway - and wow, I'm glad I did! Karou is nearly as awesome as she was in book one despite her understandable grief at the catastrophic turn her life took at the end of that book. Akiva goes from being moderately annoying to a really good hero, partly because of his real desire for redemption and partly because Taylor's villains are so memorably monstrous that anyone doing anything to stand up to them looks at least reasonably heroic.
And then there's Zuzana and Mik, Karou's human friends, who completely steal every scene they're in. They're brave, loyal, and utterly adorable, right from the opening scene (in which Zuzana tries to get her boyfriend to help her in dropping something rather unpleasant on Karou's ex-boyfriend's head as he shows off for the adoring media.)
Couple these fantastic characters with Laini Taylor's gorgeous prose, and a plot full of unexpected twists and turns, and you've got a book that's even better than the first one. Oh, and there's even a satisfying ending! In some ways, it's a massive cliffhanger but Taylor ties up one of the main plot threads really well while leaving things beautifully poised for the next book.
Very high recommendation to fantasy fans.