Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Summary: 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 beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery 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?
I kept putting this book off for years. Years of my life that now feel wasted. This book was gorgeous. Everything about this book, the writing, the characters, the world, it all felt so vibrant and alive. I almost feel like I’ve had the wind knocked out of me, I’m not sure how to handle this.
So it starts off with this girl named Karou, who is totally awesome. I seriously needed this after the last few books I read and their pathetic examples of “strong female characters”. She is bad ass and spiteful and mischievous and smart and loyal and she felt so real. She lives in Prague and runs errands for Brimstone, a demon Chimaera thing who is basically the only father figure she has, who pays for teeth with wishes. She knows nothing about who she is or where she came from, only that she loves her surrogate family of demon things. But what she doesn’t know is that there is a war going on, basically a war between angels and demons and she has something to do with it.
I don’t even know where to start. I loved the whole soul and body concept on the Chimaera’s side, and beauty of the beast and human bodies, and the way that the author wrote so I could see them in my mind, terrifying but beautiful. I loved the concept of wishes, how they worked and what Karou used them on. I loved both worlds and the mythology created for the two, though we saw more of the Chimaera one, and the differences between the two races. They knew so little about each other, but assumed that the other was horrible and monstrous and set about destroying each other. At the end, when a certain character was talking, (don’t want to give any spoilers) she whispered, “We dreamed together of the world remade.” My poor heart couldn’t handle it. When you get to this part in the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about and you will feel my pain. That once sentence is just filled with such hope and longing, with sadness and defeat. That’s basically all this book was. Those fours things bundled into a big ball of feels.
One of the things I loved most about Karou was that she wasn’t really anyone super special in this book. I mean, she was a mystery and had many mysteries surrounding her, but in the end, this wasn’t because she was some super important savior meant to save the world with her super special powers. It was because enough people had loved her and saved her. It was because she was strong enough to save herself.
I loved seeing the two different sides of Akiva. The vengeful angel of death, sent to destroy the Chimaera. His side when he meets Karou and stalks her, conflicted and confused and dark inside. Then the side was see when he was with the other woman, the one who regretted the lives he had taken, who hoped and dreamed for a new world, who loved so fiercely and passionately. Two completely contrasting sides, but they worked so well, adding depths and layers and life to him.
The love story was pretty good, I have to admit that when Akiva is crushing on Karou and noticing things that remind her of some other woman, I was really worried that we were going to find out the other woman was her mom or something upsetting like that and Karou was her secret love child. I’m not going to give anything away, but that, thankfully, was not the case. When Akiva and Karou are instantly drawn to each other and it’s kind of an insta-love scenario, I was concerned. But there was always an air of mystery surrounding why they were so drawn to each other and once the reason was revealed, it all made since and made me ship them even more.
The writing though, was what did it for me. It was all so rich and layered and beautiful, at times almost poetic. I really enjoyed the sense of darkness that this book gave me, but with little spots of light throughout. It was really just heavy and unforgettable. The world and storyline was so mesmerizing and intriguing, I literally read the whole book in one night, I couldn’t bear to put it down.
I’m totally gushing and I accept that. I can’t think of a single thing I disliked about this book. Except now that it’s over, I feel weirdly empty and the thought of waiting for the next one to get to my library makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry.