Publishers: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published Date: September 27th 2011
My rating: 5 out of 5
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?
Wow! Wow, wow, wow!!
It isn't often I'm awed by such rich writing or such a weird, bizarre, outrageous, spell-binding but truly fantastical story.
Right from the beginning you fall into Karou's world. Crazy, young thing with blue hair and a penchant for drawing fantasy creatures that all have names, histories and Karou's enthusiasm. She goes to an art school in Prague and has a brilliant friend in Zuzana, who is equally as eccentric. Karou's ex-boyfriend has been an ass on an epic scale and gradually you get drawn into the mystical world that Karou lives in. She 'wishes', using magical beads, devastating crudeness to the ex which is incredibly funny.
Taylor then takes us on the journey of Karou's world. Not knowing if she is human or not but she sure looks like one even with the blue hair. We get invited into her past with indeed does include the before-mentioned fantasy creatures, and we visit magical places around the world like Paris and Morocco.
When we reach Morocco the story lifts onto a new level as we meet Akiva. Karou's world shifts slightly as each is drawn to each other for undefined reasons which get explained later on. Because there isn't just the human world involved here. We learn about other worlds accessible by portals. And....shhh, Akiva is an Angel, or a soldier whichever you want. But there is a war going on between the chimaera (the fantasies) and the Angels (the soldiers).
The romance between Karou and Akiva is exquisite. It's slow building and then overwhelming and then...disaster happens.
The writing held me in my chair for hours just reading through the beautiful prose that gets painted like a perfect picture enabling the reader to visualise such drama and scenery.
I've never read Laini Taylor before but I was enchanted. If you haven't had a chance to pick this one up then please do. It'll be well worth your time.