Honestly, I cannot remember the first time I heard of Laini Taylor; I only know that Daughter of Smoke and Bone was the first book of hers that I read. I loved it. The prose was woven with metaphor and the resulting tapestry was like candy to my eyes. It lessened the blow of a chapters-long flashback that would have normally been jarring. (The flashback had as much intrigue as a stand-alone story and I believe it would work well as a stand-alone novella. Personal opinion. Moving on.)
After reading Daughter and learning this author had other books out, I immediately went to read them. Taylor’s debut novel was Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, a story about an adventurous faerie that travels with a flock of smoking crows to lock away demons that humans are releasing into the world. Like Daughter, Blackbringer brings the same tapestry prose and is paired with illustrations by her husband Jim Di Bartolo. The real delight came from the characters, who were well-rounded and motivated and defied the tropes they were stuck in. Blackbringer and its sequel Silksinger were marvelous. I could gobble them up again and again if only they were easy to find. These are the only two books in the series. Unfortunately, further additions to the Dreamdark series are on haitus until further notice.
Lips Touch: Three Times is a collection of novellas, each centered around a kiss. Jim Di Bartolo also provides illustrations for all three stories. This book has won multiple awards in 2009 when it came out. Goblin Fruit is the reason I love the poem Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. My favorite title and story in the collection is Spicy Little Curses Such as These, about a noblewoman in India and her watchful eye over a cursed child. Ending the anthology is Hatchling which has the same story-flashback-climax structure as Daughter.
According to Taylor’s bibliography on her website, she has two works that I have not read. The Drowned is a graphic novel by Taylor and Di Bartolo released by Image Comics in 2004. Amazon reviewers are pleased by this purchase so I will be hunting down a copy to read. Taylor also has a short story in the anthology Foretold released in 2012 by Random House. Info for these comes from Taylor’s bibliography on her website which has not been updated for Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the last edition to the Daughter of Smoke of Bone trilogy that was released last year. (Through perusing the archives, I noticed she contributed a short story to My True Love Gave to Me: Three Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins. That cannot be the only thing I am missing). I look forward to her growing bibliography!
On my own shelf, I own the hardcovers of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Most of my books are from used bookstores, where her works are hard to find. Taylor is very well liked from what I can tell so who would ever give up a copy of her books?
I love Taylor’s prose, but I also love the creativity of her stories and the use of folktales and legends. Blackbringer is a refreshing use of faeries that feels familiar the first time you read through, and Daughter is a twist on the angel vs. demon legends with somewhat of an open ending, even after the final book Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I recommend her books for anyone who wants to see a literary twist to a familiar world.
All images originated from Laini Taylor’s blog.