Book Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters

One of my favourite trilogies of recent years has been Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. I reviewed the second book, Days of Blood and Starlight, at the end of last year, and at the end of that mentioned that I couldn't wait for the third book to come out; they're the kind of novels that you simultaneously inhale because they're so good to read yet try to drag out so they don't have to end. That feeling was turned up to 11 by Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the final book in the series.

A warning before I say anything else: here be spoilers for earlier books in the series.

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The book opens after an army of Seraphim has appeared on Earth, staging a mass invasion in the form of the Second Coming. Meanwhile, lead character Karou is attempting to unite the chimera army with the siblings of her angel lover Akiva in order to fight this greater evil.

As the final book of three Taylor had a lot of loose ends to tie up, and consequently I feel that created a bit of a shift in her style; the sparse but beautiful prose I loved from the first two books is still there, but it did feel slightly like that had been sacrificed to keep the plot driving forward (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). It also seemed like the themes that have been lurking in the background earlier in the series - the nature of good and evil, the conflict between love and duty - were pushed much more to the fore, though it never felt like the reader is being pandered to or preached at.

After they spent much of the previous novel separated, the love story between Karou and Akiva is also far more present in this book, and it's probably the first time in the series I've warmed to Karou; I always thought she was cool, but often she's come across as cold and this time around I felt she was much more humanised. That said, it's still the peripheral characters I love - Karou's feisty best friend Zuzana and her violinist boyfriend Mik, the utterly heartbreaking fate of Ziri and the change seen in Akiva's sister Liraz over the course of the trilogy.

Overall, this was a bit of a bittersweet book for me; whilst it's gorgeously written, even when Taylor talks about terrible things, it also felt very sad to leave the series behind. That said, the gripping plot and wonderful descriptions kept me hooked from beginning to end and so immersed in the world of the book that finishing it felt a bit like saying goodbye to a good friend (though there are plenty of loose threads left hanging for a sequel). Definitely a series to sit down with on a rainy weekend and race through.

Have you read any of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy?

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