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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (audio)
labandbooks
proseandkahn
daughtersmoke
Unabridged audiobook on 10 compact discs, 12.5 hours. Read by Khristine Hvam. Hachette Audio, 2011. 9781611132977. (Borrowed from the public library.)

Seventeen, beautiful and blue-haired, Karou lives a double life. At times, she's a gifted art student studying in Prague, but whenever she's summoned by this adorable winged creature whose name escapes me, she enters Elsewhere to do the bidding of her chimera guardian, Brimstone, she travels the world through portals to collect teeth, human and animal, from a variety of less than savory hunters. Her past is a mystery to her, as are the origin of the two tattoos on her palms. She has reconciled the demands of her two worlds by moving around a lot and not getting too close to anyone, but she loves living and studying in Prague and, though she regrets her recent alliance with bad boy Kaz, she wishes she could be more honest with her first best friend, Zuzanna, who is losing patience with Karou's frequent, unexplained disappearances.

The story proceeds at a rather leisurely pace. I was surprised that this didn't bother me - testament to the meticulous world-building the author has wrought.  She seamlessly meshes the parallel worlds into something quite possible. There's humor and everyday adolescent angst woven with otherworldly wonder. Karou is intriguing, smart and thoughtful. The avenging angel we learn is Akiva is appropriately mysterious and sinister. Zuzanna and other secondary characters are complicated individuals in their own right, but it is the development of Karou's otherworldly foster family that really shines. The romance aspect is unique in so many ways and I'm so happy that Karou continues to kick-ass and doesn't melt into a gooey mess.

Khristine Hvam is a new narrator to me. She matches the novel's initial leisurely pace and utilizes rich accents and a variety of voices for most of the characters. Since I don't imagine accents when I read with my eyes, I find that narrators who do them well enrich my listening experience. I just looked her up on my wonderful library cooperative and note that she also narrated Why We Broke Up, another book on massive TOM. The problem with reading that one with my ears is missing out on the art, which I hear is an integral part of the novel. Hm,m.

I'm so on board for book two, Days of Blood and Starlight, due out in November.