- Page Count: 418
- Release Date: September 27, 2011
- My Rating: 4.5 stars
Around the world, black hand prints 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 grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly 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?
This was SUCH a gorgeous, creative, incredible book that seriously took me by surprise. Like where did this come from and whyyyy have I not read it until now?!!? This is the kind of book people should be shoving in my face to read (for future reference pleeeease).
Karou is an art student who has blue hair, eye tattoos on her hands, and no idea where she’s from or who she really is. She was raised by these really cool chimaera monster-types and can access their world through the random door portals they open (but if she were to open the door, it would just lead to the empty apartment or whatever is really behind it). They collect teeth, so Karou runs teeth-gathering errands around the world for them at times. Karou was a pretty likable main character, too, so that was a huge relief.
The chimaeras who raised her were one of my favorite parts of this book. They had such strong personalities and were SO lovable, slightly creepy, and wonderful. I really liked their shop, too (especially when we see what’s behind the other door). And the chimaeras and a lot of the magical aspects totally reminded me of Pan’s Labyrinth at times! The aesthetic of this entire story was just so unique.
The gothic setting of Prague is absolutely glorious & magical and completely made this story what it is! This book had amazing worldbuilding all around. Like I NEED to go to Prague now and just eat pastries and goulash please.
I know I usually say that I would’ve liked more romance in other books, but I really wasn’t that into Akiva & Karou. I like them just fine, but they’re not the main thing I’m here for. I thought the romance reeked of instalove at first (but it’s not, thank goodness), and then I wasn’t too sure how much I cared… but I was totally on board by the end! Aviva is an angel whose people are at war with the chimaera. He burns all of the portals down and Karou is stuck in our world with no access to the “family” who raised her. She finds out the tattoos on her hands can hurt angels and… ok that’s about 1/3 of the way into the story so I don’t want to spoil more. It gets complicated and interesting.
The only thing I really had a problem with was the pacing. The beginning was wonderful, but then it kind of lost a bit of the super cool magic feeling once the story started to revolve more around the romance. I definitely wasn’t huge on how it kept switching between Akiva/Madrigal’s story and the present. I was glad to know more about them at the end, but it really killed the pacing to the point where the story felt like a bunch of smaller disjointed plot arcs instead of a single overarching one. Karou’s present-day story almost started to feel like background material in the second half.
Also, the book is broken into separate parts that really could’ve used smoother segues… like the plot would jump so much that it would throw me out of the story at times. And sometimes the dialogue between Karou and her best friend was a bit cheesy. But it was still nice to see the main character have a friend or someone in her life besides the guy.
I guess I would have liked more of a focus on the magical Pan’s Labyrinth-type aesthetic of both worlds since I was actually more interested in that than the star-crossed romance, but none of these minor complaints really hurt the story in the end! The writing was SO beautiful and really well done.
I’m not sure why I waited so long to read this, but I’m so glad I finally did. Totally recommend it!