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 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 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?
Oh what a magnificent imagination Laini Taylor has, and how I envy her for it. When I picked this book up I had no idea what it was going to be like, and in truth I barely knew what it was about to begin with. It was just one of those books that drew me to it without and real reason, and I’m so glad it did. I can’t say I’m particularly fond of the cover, it’s a little off I think, but at the same time it’s rather pretty and I can’t stop looking at it. It’s complex in it’s simple nature, and that’s kind of what the story is like when you start reading.
At first I was kind of confused, the writing felt weird and I was faced with a rather unique main character that I knew nothing about. I feared the worst and was rather skeptical that I’d enjoy it at all if it continued the same way, I’m not one to willingly stumble around in the dark. As I continued though I found that I cared less and less about it not giving me all the details I wanted right away, instead I was eager to read more and find out more. Pretty soon I was devouring chapter after chapter with wide eyed rapture and loving every minute of it. The story isn’t something I expected and it stayed that way from start to finish, which is perfect because now I’m dying to get the second one. The whole world that Taylor created is so different and so rich that I can’t help but be entranced by it, she gives you so much to imagine and it’s all so easy to fall into.
Without giving away all of the aspects of the story I’ll attempt to point out some of the best stuff. The “monsters” are fantastic and they sound beautiful in their own ways. I love how they are described physically they are so different and so animal, but describing their personality is when you learn how truly human they are. The Serephs are a fantastic version of angels, and for once I wasn’t completely disappointed in how they are portrayed. In fact I wasn’t disappointed at all, they were pretty much what I want to see in angelic characters. Tough, solder minded, beautiful and most of all deadly. The world in which these two group reside is war torn and at the same time rather beautiful to envision. As the story progresses and deepens it begins to shift from Karou’s point of view to Akiva’s, and you gain even more perspective and it becomes even more riveting. The writing style is not one I’ve ever seen before and it’s rather beautiful to read, it flows so smoothly and I had no trouble letting the story take me.
Karou is one awesome main character. She’s witty, smart, stubborn, and strong. She has her flaws but she feels so perfect, she’s someone you actually want to succeed. I loved seeing her evolve over the course of the story and I think the fact that the core of character stays true is something that you don’t find very often. She felt like a real person, her reactions never flew off the handle in some fantastic way and she never betrayed her character just to progress storyline. Akiva is a character that I immediately loved and I think it all had to do with the way he was presented in the beginning. I have a soft spot for angels who are cold and single minded but suddenly find a crack in their armor. It’s something that a lot of authors seem to get wrong, they give me that angel but then in the blink of an eye he’s exposed and emotional and they never give me a good enough reason why. Taylor took her time with Akiva and gave him a reason for everything, and that made a world of difference. All of the side characters are easily placed into your mind and they certainly stand out. Brimstone is one of the most interesting characters I’ve read about in a long time and I love everything about him. He’s mysterious, slightly scary, and surprisingly supportive. The romance that occurs is one that I genuinely enjoyed reading about and at times I was simpling like an idiot. It’s heartfelt and touching, and in some ways it’s so effortless. It’s not rushed but it’s not slow, there is a spark that just kind of ignites in a wonderful way. I truly felt that they belong together, it just felt right and their characters were so perfect for one another.
Overall I thought that this book was fantastic, and if you can’t tell by the review I’m in love with it. There is just so much to talk about that if I tried this review would be ridiculous in length. It’s not a story you can simply review and manage to capture it all, it has to be read to understood.This is one of my favorites of the year and if you haven’t guessed, I recommend this wholeheartedly.