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?
Goordreads rating: 5 stars
Ah, where to begin with this? I picked this book up from the library because I saw a YouTube comment mention it. That’s the kind of thing I’m prone to do. And I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED. This book was everything I wanted it to be and more, and far exceeded my expectations.
What is the first thing that came to mind when I heard the story involved fallen angels? Something Fallen-like: broody characters and exposition about angels and basically just pseudo-epic romantic stuffs involving the YA protagonist and the hunky fallen angel dude. Did anyone else think this?
Well, hold your horses. From the very start, this book turned out to be something entirely different. The first thing I loved was Karou’s character. She’s an everyday girl, funny, snarky, and with bright blue hair no less. Not boring. Not one dimensional. And we’re then introduced to her family, which is made of the wildest array of creatures I’ve every read descriptions about. And so right then, at that moment, I had a moment of clarity. Thinking to myself “holy crap, is this-is this an original idea? Can it be? What even is this?” I had been expecting an insta-love novel about angels. Instead I got Karou, and the premise of wishes formed from teeth. “Okay,” I thought. “I’ll roll with this.”
The setting is so random. Or maybe I found it random because I’m not used to YA authors delving deeper into the world.
And then I noticed the writing. The writing is beautiful. It flows so well, and every page just feels alive. And there was no angsty stuff. It was lightehearted and it was funny.
It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry ‘Monster!’ and looked behind him.
I don’t know many rules to live by,’ he’d said. ‘But here’s one. It’s simple. Don’t put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles–drug or tattoo–and…no inessential penises either.’
‘Inessential penises?’ Karou had repeated, delighted with the phrase in spite of her grief. ‘Is there any such thing as an essential one?’
Laini Taylor is a wonderful storyteller. She mixes magic and mythology to form a hybrid of something I’ve never read before, and then introduces something that has been done before- the fallen angel- and makes it her own. When you meet the angels- and the demons, for that matter- they are terrifying. There is a whole world out there of beings that aren’t supposed to be revered, but feared. The angels are powerful, and beautiful; their war with the demons is bloody and brutal, and that is scary.
The love story between flows so well, you feel for the actual characters rather than the painted picture of love that we’re usually presented with. The ‘forbidden love’ story is so beautifully done, and it actually broke my heart. And that makes the story’s twist so much more shocking. Akiva’s tortured character is understandable, and not just put there to add steamy tension. Taylor for the win.
Can I mention Brimstone for a second? Oh my, I loved every character but I especially loved Brimstone. The scary demon who raised Karou like a daughter. His business of creating wishes. His past and link to Akiva. Everything is so well done, I can’t even. And Karou’s relationship with her family and the outside world is amazing; she was raised by demons and lives in the outside world, having to balance the two (and running amok with her necklace of wishes.) Her identity crisis resonates with a reader, because a reader learns to actually feel her struggle, again a testament to Taylor’s writing.
I literally cannot wait to read the rest of the trilogy. Because out of all the books I’ve read in my short life, this is one of the books that I would throw at someone full force, yelling “READ IT!” and proceed to burst into tears. A mild reaction, if you really think about it. Am I not a reader?
So, I would recommend this with all my metaphorical heart and organs. It twisted a story around anything any other YA author has done, and managed to find originality in quite a repetitive genre. Read it!