by Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
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 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?
(synopsis from Goodreads)
I just have one thing to say about this book: How on earth did I miss this when it came out two years ago?
Okay, so I probably have more to say about it than that. But I just finished the book, and I kind of feel like I've been hit by a truck. Now that, authors, is how you end the first book of a trilogy. Rip the reader's heart out and leave them begging for more.
This is an angel book. I didn't really realize it when I found it at the local e-library. I downloaded it because I'd seen the cover before and vaguely remembered some decent reviews... but mostly because it was one of the only books that was available for download that wasn't the second book in a trilogy. Had I known it was an angel book, I might not have picked it up; I've read two books in this genre recently, and part of a third that I couldn't finish, and I figured I was suffering from angel fatigue. But this... Any book that can make me sit and read more than 400 pages in two sittings... I don't care what kind of supernatural beings it has.
Laini Taylor has one heck of an imagination. The world-building was pretty amazing. Between the fantasy world inhabited by the chimaera and the seraphim, and the present-day back alleyways of Prague inhabited by human creatures almost as fantastic, it wasn't hard to get a feel for every setting and every character in this book. There is a history to everything, and it all unspools at just the right pace, revealing tidbits of information at the most exquisitely appropriate times.
Unlike the other angel books I've read recently, this one has angels as I imagined them to be: beautiful but terrifying. I can safely say that Akiva falls into that category. In comparison, he makes some of the other angel characters I've recently encountered look like petulant little boys with homemade, strap-on wings. The author definitely struck the right balance with this guy. He comes across as real. All the characters do, really... even the ones who -- in the hands of lesser authors -- would come across as silly fantasy caricatures.
Readers who enjoy fantasy, paranormal elements, great world-building, and well-developed characters will probably find something to like here. I'm just glad my case of angel fatigue didn't deter me from reading this one. I really would've missed out.
Overall: 4.57 out of 5