Rating: 4.5 STARSThe Daughter of Smoke and Bone surprised me. Of course, I had heard the high praise and looked quizzically at the beautiful blue cover, but I had virtually no idea what the story would actually contain. All I knew was that it was supposed to be good, and that I should absolutely read it. So, I did!Now that I've finished, my emotions are buzzing and my thoughts are scrambling to form into something scenical. Needless to say, I loved it. But the process of my loving it has been an odd experience. At first I was pretty tentative, Karou's world in Prague is interesting but didn't hold my attention. Things were pretty fair sailing and it was this build up, without having much of a clue if it was worth what it was building to, that had me wavering. But during this first half, I was enjoying how the writing was setting the scene, and of course, introducing our main dame, Karou. She was wonderful from page one, full of the spunk and energy that I like to see in female characters. Her friends, her art, her ex-boyfriend, and even her choice of hangouts, all endered her to me. This was was pretty key for me as the fantastical elements of the story began to emerge, she made it all so easy to believe in. Her narrative wasn't spent trying to convince me of her world, instead she told her stories so earnestly that I really could immerse myself in them. Brimstone and Issa stand out in my mind as characters more so then creatures, which was important when it came time to connect to the chimera world. Jumping ahead, something similar can be said about the angels. The way that they are described and introduced made me connect with them in a manner that felt more natural then the normal hoe-hum of an author trying to set up a mythos. Right about when the character of Akiva is first introduced, is I really got into the plot. Things were slowly moving forward and Akiva ended up playing a much larger role then I could have ever at first imagined. When the romance between Karou and Akiva started up, I wasn't impressed, mostly because it felt so instant. Sure, this is one crazy situation, but should you guys really be getting so comfortable, so quickly? I remember feeling like it was unnecessary, I mean does there have to be a romance between them? Not as far as I could tell. But the way that their connection to each other plays into my favourite part of the story, and also the ending of the book, worked exceedingly well! With that said though, I do wish their interactions felt like they had more purpose while they were happening and not just in hindsight of later events.Speaking of later events, I LOVED Madrigal and her story! I found her to be so much more interesting then Karou (still love ya though babe!) and the chimera world was fascinating through her eyes. It felt like such a classic tale, one of those stories of love and betrayal that has all those basic elements but speaks to something more. It gave me a better understanding of what was going on with Akiva and Karou, while also bringing the ideas of war and life to the forefront of the book.I have to give some major credit to Laini Taylor, what really pulls all these different parts of the story together is the writing. This book had the chance to be as confusing and cookie-cutter as hell, but her writing worked so great with the style of the story that it was easy to enjoy. Calling it world building sounds to much like brick and mortar for what Taylor accomplishes here.This blew me away and kept me up all night to finish it! I will eagerly await the next book in the series, to see if this good work continues. I always get nervous when the first book of a series gets such amazing hype behind it, so I am a little cautious, but we will have to wait and see!