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?
It was really hard to decide whether to rate this three or four stars, and while I initially gave it four, on further thought I lowered it to three. While I liked the concept of the world and am looking forward to what I think will happen later, this book didn’t impress me as much as I hoped it would.
I’m going to be more vague than usual concerning what this book is about, for I think it’s more entertaining to learn of the world as you read it, so I don’t want to give too much away. However, this book begins by following the life of Karou, who lives a double life. She is an art student, but she also participates in activities that are so strange she can never tell anyone. Due to her secrets and occasional disappearances, she doesn’t have a lot of friends, and you see how lonely Karou is from the beginning.
Then a second perspective weaves into the story, and we see black handprints appearing on doors with a mysterious significance.
Sometime while all of this is going on, Karou meets the love interest of the story, Akiva. It soon becomes apparent that there is something deeper in their relationship, hinting at forgotten secrets of the past.
The main focus of this book, I think I can say, was the romance. While we are introduced to the world, its problems, and its secrets, we don’t dive into the turmoil of the world quite yet, for there is a lot of set up needed. A good chunk of this book actually took place in the past—surprising, but not necessarily a bad thing. The flashbacks were still an entertaining part of the story, and I enjoyed seeing how the information revealed in them became relevant in the present story line.
So because the romance was the main focus, I needed it to be really good. It was pretty satisfactory at the beginning, but as the story advanced, I became aware that the depth to their relationship that I thought would come later was not, in fact, going to come. There is a lot riding on their romance for several spoilery reasons, so I wanted to see more of the foundation that their love grew out of.
But this was never shown? It seems to be brushed off simply as “they fell in love” when I am not a believer of people just looking at each other and knowing instantly that the other person is special. It felt like cheating and made me think of insta-love a lot. Because the foundation of their love was never laid down, all the interactions they had lacked a depth. They were still somewhat enjoyable to read about, but every time I tried to think about it more closely, I was snapped out of the moment.
Again, that was disappointing, because the romance was the main focus.
However, I have to say that Laini Taylor’s writing is just so beautiful! It conveyed the perfect atmosphere of this mysterious, creepy, often scary world so well, and that’s what kept me connected to the story. Her writing of the characters (minus the issue with the logic in the romance) was also pretty good, showing their emotions and struggles. I also think the world has a lot of potential, and I can’t wait to see all that has been set up go down and pick up speed.