*In this book review I will give a brief overview and opinion on the text without the deliberate inclusion of any spoilers.
Rating: 5 out of 5 books 📖
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?
I had seen this book countless times in different Goodreads lists and on bookshelves in stores, but it wasn’t until I was at Waterstones with my friends that I really took an interest and had the urge to start reading it right away.
It’s been awhile since I’ve read a good fantasy book that has hooked me from the start. It is a book that is completely different from anything else I have read so far. Karou is such a colourful character, from her aqua blue hair to her numerous tattoos and curious personality. Brimstone, Issa and Yasri remind me of characters from folk stories and fey creatures, mythical and mysterious.
I especially enjoyed how the POV switched sporadically between the protagonist Karou and other characters, some of which had not yet been fully introduced during their first appearance. It brought an element of mystery and kept me reading page after page.
‘I don’t have 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?’ – Brimstone and Karou
In this book, the black and white concepts of good vs evil, angel vs demon are completely flipped. Karou’s upbringing reveals a tender and protective side to the ‘demon’ characters, those of which would normally be portrayed as soulless and bad. Whereas the angelic characters are seen both as powerful protectors and arrogant destroyers. Through the portrayal of multiple perspectives, the reader is shown how these characters are viewed by those of different positions in the world. One side believes the other is evil, whereas the other also believes the same of the opposite side. You see how war and loss twists the perceptions of the two species and in doing so determines the future for their world.
‘They told themselves we were dumb beasts, as if that made it all right. They had five thousand beasts in their pits who weren’t dumb at all, but they believed their own fiction. They didn’t fear us, and that made it easy.’
‘Made what easy?’
‘Destroying them.’ – Brimstone and Madrigal
The descriptions of the worlds themselves are beautifully otherworldly, rich in colours and detail they feed the reads imagination until you can literally see what it is you are reading with your minds eye. Even locations that are familiar such as Prague and Marrakech are stunningly portrayed and wonderfully animated.
I love how the author entwines basic elements of humanity like a broken heart and discovering oneself, to otherworldly aspects such as angels, magic and teeth collecting chimeras. There is not one thing I wasn’t happy with, it ticked all the boxes and kept me riveted from start to finish and eager to begin the next part of the story.
‘But under the misery, there was hope.’ – Karou
In all, this is a stunning tale of grief, loss, love, discovery and becoming, it is a book full of colour and shadows, love and war. I truly enjoyed the way old and new stories became woven into one and how each character somehow had a connection to one another whether it was good or bad.
Have you read this book? If you have, what did you think?