I so wanted to finish the entire Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy before I left on my trip. I just couldn't quite get any of the patrons who had it checked out to return it. (Not that I actually called and begged any of them. I was pretty tempted to do that, but then I decided I like my job.) Then someone finally returned it—on Saturday. And I was leaving on Tuesday. And while, if I'd had the time, I could've definitely finished it in the hours I had left, I didn't. Didn't have the time, I mean, between the packing and the laundry and the house-cleaning and the last-minute shopping that comes before a trip.
I did read about three chapters, though.
And I confess: my excitement sort of dwindled. Because it opens with a character named Eliza, who is a normal human woman. A scientist who happens to have some terrifying nightmares, but I was sort of...annoyed, I guess. I didn't want a new story or a new character. I wanted to step right back into the story I'd left at the end of Days of Blood & Starlight.
So maybe it was good that I had a vacation wherein I re-read all of Atwood's Maddaddam trilogy, because it gave me some time to distance myself from my expectations.
I picked up Dreams of Gods & Monsters the day after I got home. And then I couldn't put it down.
I'm not sure what I was expecting out of the story of Karou and Akiva. I was hoping it would wrap up in a way that didn't bother me—nothing too convenient. I wanted it to stay a little bit edgy and dark. And, you know...it didn't let me down. Once I made myself accept that I would need to enter Eliza's story as well as the others, I was enchanted.
Of course, I can't tell you exactly what happens, because that would spoil the first two books. But I will say this: they go back to Eretz. We get to enter the Kirin caves (which dismayed me just a little bit, because they were so evocative of Moria for me, but that is a minor quibble), understand what the Stelian tribe of angels is up to, and get a larger picture of the history of the worlds and how they are connected. We get more romance (another confession: some of this was overwritten to me; I kept reminding myself of the intended audience, which isn't a 42-year-old cynic who dislikes romance), and the possibility of a love triangle is resolved. We get more Zuzana and Mik.
Most importantly, things do wrap up, but not in a way I had anticipated. It felt like big storytelling to me—not just the small stories. Why are there portals between Eretz and earth? How do myths and religions influence our decisions? How does fate? Stories are brought to a close, but it isn't extremely tidy. You can imagine the story going on after you set the book down.
I kept thinking of this article while I finished up this YA trilogy. It decries the habit of adults reading YA fiction on the grounds that we can do better—that we can push ourselves to read harder, more meaningful things. And while Laini Taylor's books aren't exactly hard, at least not in the sense of reading ability, they still have big ideas in them. They still make you think, and that is something I look for in whatever I read.
So! If you are looking for a good, long, well-written fantasy that is mostly non-Tolkien derivative, with only a small love triangle that doesn't overwhelm the story, that's edgy and interesting and takes you to Rome, this is it. Happy reading!