Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
Discovery: I was a little iffy about reading this book because I avoid “angel” stories in general. Fortunately, I was convinced by some blogger friends to give it a try, if only for the fantasy/mythology elements.
+ Imagination. For your reference, the first lines of the book–
Once upon a time,
an angel and a devil fell in love.
It did not end well.
Now, it’s shockingly obvious to me just how this was supposed to be read, but for some reason, I understood it as Karou-is-the-child-of-this-union. Suffice it to say that the last 150 pages of the book were a surprise to me, but it was a welcome one. Laini Taylor took a tired cliche of YA fiction off the shelf, tossed in a healthy dose of horror and fantasy, and gave me one of the most compelling and mind-blowing novels I’ve read in the last five years. Yes, I went there. I’m sure it’s been said before, but I would just love to sit down with Laini and pick her brain (not literally) for the gold nuggets of imagination she’s got rocking about. Her descriptions of the chimaera and Prague had me spinning in a slow circle while I cried because there is no way I will ever live up to her gorgeous prose. There is an indefinable magic in each chapter, and you will want to read and reread each paragraph just to soak in that enchantment.
+ Karou. If I could, I would write odes to Karou. Most of the books I read feature female protagonists and while I like them well enough, there are only a few that I would actually want to hang out with. Among them: Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Anna of the French Kiss and Keek from And Then Things Fall Apart. Karou is the untouchable, artistic girl you’ve always wanted to say hi to, but were always secretly terrified of. She’s crazy smart and talented, but unbeknowst to you, she’s just as unsure of herself. More than any female heroine I’ve met this year, Karou is a role model. She may make mistakes, but she faces the consequences head-on. She doesn’t know any other way and that in itself is evidence of her courage and strength.
Recommendations: Don’t borrow this book from the library or from a friend. Buy it. Trust me, you won’t regret owning a copy. (I’m sad that I can’t cuddle my own right now.) And if you can, buy multiples. You’ll want to put this book into the hands of every girl you know.
Next review: Enthralled, Edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong