Laini Taylor – Dreams of Gods and Monsters

A satisfying conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, Dreams of Gods and Monsters follows hard on the heels of Days of Blood and Starlight in embracing the themes of war and redemption over the overwrought romance, although this inevitably features too. I think I'd have loved this if I had met it in my early/mid teens.

I'm a bit too cynical and crusty to get excited about YA romance tropes and narrative arcs now, but the finale – as the rest of the trilogy – is diverting and entertaining. Laini Taylor writes good fluff and if quite a lot still feels like wish-fulfilment, I remain amused that she turned this in on itself in Daughter of Smoke and Bone by making it clear that even within the bounds of her own tale – where wishes are possible – it is rampant wish fulfilment, and one disapproved of by the wish-granter at that.

Points for introducing angels of all colours, a whiff of a suggestion that angels are not all heterosexual (introduced if not explored) and for strong women outnumbering the strong men, with romantic relationships that make them happier rather than more capable. Further points for tackling some of the difficulties of forging an alliance between mortal enemies, given what past acts must be over-looked or forgiven and what behaviours must be changed for the future; points lost for this feeling more than a little simplified (but hey, this is firmly YA fiction; I'll cut it some slack).

That said, I was mildly irritated to have
SPOILERS (mouse over to read)
a dea ex machina almost literally hand-wave away the war (both Akiva's initial cutting through of angel/chimaera hostility and Scarab's apparently single-handed defusing of the Dominion), and leaving Razgut as a dangling thread wasn't entirely satisfactory for a book that otherwise is very quick to punish its villains, reward its heroes and avoid heartbreak (after a quick and unnecessary ladle of 'Oh noes! A long-distance relationship can't be an option! We will be separated 4EVAH' angst). I did like that after a trilogy focused on Akiva and Karou, they're not the new King and Queen of Everything, although they hold revered spots in their cultures.

The ending is clearly open for a follow-up volume or further trilogy to tackle the tale of the godstars and the nithilam, although her latest book news makes it clear that her next efforts will be in a new direction. No rush, but if she returns to Eretz, I'll probably come back for the ride.