- 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).
Basic plot stuff: 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 some 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-collecting errands around the world for them at times. Meanwhile, 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… the plot gets complicated.
The chimaeras who raised Karou were one of my favorite parts of this book. They had such strong personalities and were SO lovable, slightly creepy, and just wonderful. I really liked their shop (especially when we see what’s behind the other door). 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 and I loved it all.
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.
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 magical feeling once the story started to revolve more around the past. It started to feel like a bunch of smaller disjointed plot arcs when Karou’s present-day story became background material in the second half.
So I was more into the magical Pan’s Labyrinth-type aesthetic of both worlds than the star-crossed romance, but none of these minor complaints really hurt the story in the end! The writing was SO incredibly beautiful.
I’m not sure why I waited so long to read this, but I’m so glad I finally did. Totally recommend it!
UPDATE: I really liked this first book, but wasn’t too huge on the sequels.