4.5.3 for the story, and an additional 1.5 for the beautiful, beautiful writing.I’m fascinated with words. I read books, not so much for the story as for the writing. A well-written book makes my day. And I LOVE authors who can string together words in ways that make ordinary stories seem extraordinary; as if each word were a musical note that, though insignificant by itself, together forms a haunting melody. Very few authors have done that to me: Khaled Hosseini, Lauren Oliver, Kazuo Ishiguro...and now, Laini Taylor.If someone were to orally narrate the story of Daughter of Smoke and Bone to me, I would probably stop listening halfway through. I’ve been wary of the term ‘paranormal romance’ ever since I read Twilight, and there was a moment when I was sure that DoSaB would go careening into the very same territory. Thankfully, it recovered... and how. Just when I was afraid that the story would go spiraling down the cliff, it suddenly sprouted wings and flew, soaring way beyond my expectations, and ending on such a high that I momentarily considered giving it a 5.What never faltered, from start to finish, was the writing. It kept the story from falling apart in places. It made me keep reading, when otherwise, I would have stopped. (And thank God for that, because the later half is the book’s redemption).It’s not just that Laini Taylor has a flair for world-building, which she does. Whether it’s Prague on earth or Loramendi in Eretz; humans or seraphims or chimaera – everything was so... credible. It’s commendable enough to imagine this stuff up, but to articulate it so very well in words demands applause.It’s not just that she connects the dots perfectly, which she does. Everything falls in place smooothly, everything makes sense. Even the chapter names. I love how every chapter is named after a word or phrase that appears in it and lends the chapter its purpose. Or the title, ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’. It’s not just some fancy name the author came up with, it actually makes sense. Karou is the daughter of smoke and bone.What really amazed me was how effortlessly Laini Taylor could define emotions. Just, define them. How she could express happiness, love, hope, anguish in such sparing words, and yet knock me down with a cannonball of feeling.***“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”***“Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort. It was all those things, intertwined with the heat and the thrill, and it was as bright within her as a swallowed star.”***“Love is an element. An element. Like air to breathe, earth to stand on.”***“His scream was a thing. It clawed its way out of him, gutting him from the inside. It ripped and tore.”***I know this feels less like a book review and more like an author-gush-fest, but I can’t help it.I am in awe, Ms. Taylor.