Not even going to lie.The cover of this book completely drew me in. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect. I seem to remember a lot of hype on Goodreads a while back, but it was still under my radar. I have actually had this book, and the second in the series, sitting on my shelf for over a year now. I was looking for something to read as a reprieve from The Princess Diaries series( or in other words, I read all the PD books I own and needed something to fill in). My gaze wandered to this book that had been sitting on my shelf for some time now, and I thought, 'why not?'.
Now I'm thinking, 'what was I waiting for?'.
From Goodreads: 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 grows 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 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 story has so many elements that I loved. Taylor's descriptive writing style was surprisingly enjoyable for me. I don't normally like description for description's sake, and that's not even what this was, really. It was more like well-balanced description, just enough interspersed throughout to paint a poignant picture without being overdone.
Another is the world that Taylor has created. First, her description of Prague had me looking up plane ticket prices and wondering how my 1 year old would fare on a plane ride. But also, there is the alternate world that she creates. The worlds of the seraphim and the chamaera. With it's many species and customs, wars and histories.
Which brings me to the characters. I have a serious soft spot for Brimstone. Big, gruff, hulking. It was so hard to understand in the beginning, but you could tell that he deeply cared for Karou, and so there had to be a reason that he behaved the way he did. And then when you find out his line of work, it's impossible to not feel some sort of empathy for him. Plus, even though his description is a little grotesque, the image of him cradling a baby Karou in his arms is still heart-warming, if for nothing else than it's incongruousness.
And so, all of this brings me to Karou and Akiva.
As I was reading, I had just begun to read actually, there was a very descriptive passage of Karou. And it really struck me. So much so that I had to put the book down for a moment and type my reaction into the Notes app on my phone. Please allow me to quote myself.
"I love that Karou is beautiful. There seems to be a trend now that the heroines in teen novels have to be plain, not all that pretty. And usually through some revelation, be it make over or empowerment, she becomes beautiful. But this is different. Karou is exotic and stunning. From the get go. I think the reason that as authors it may be tempting to dull their characters down is that they don't want to make the female reader feel inferior. I mean, we don't have azure blue hair that grows naturally, but the point of reading is to immerse ourselves in the story. We become Karou. And you know what? It's fun."
There is a lot to be said about the outer beauty of feminine characters in literature, lacking or not. But it was extremely refreshing to me to read a character who was so strikingly beautiful, but it was not shallow or cheap. Or typical. She has blue hair, for crying out loud.
Akiva. Ok, so let me say that when I realized that this book was going to be about angels and demons I got extremely excited. I'll just say a big ol thank you to my good friend H. Crook, Netflix, and my newfound obsession with Supernatural for this one.
So, H. Crook, if you are reading this, I HIGHLY recommend these books to you! I digress.
I could't get enough description of his wings. I just kept hoping that he would drop his glamour and unfurl them already!!! Ahem, anyway.
The ending hurt me unexpectedly; I really didn't see the fullness of the situation until the end. Honestly I wasn't looking for it. I've made it my habit to not try so hard to sniff out the plot line, although some authors make it glaringly obvious(looking at you, Nicholas Sparks...) Thankfully, the second title, Days of Blood and Starlight is sitting on my bed as I type, waiting to be lovingly removed from it's slip cover. Here goes nothing!
Crossing this one off!
1 A book you own but haven't read.