Karou is an art student living in Prague who is perceived as mysterious, quirky, and compelling by those around her. What they don’t know is that all the things she tells them about herself, with a wry smile on her lips, are true: her hair grows blue because she wished it so, she speaks an astounding number of languages fluently, and she was raised by chimera from another world. Karou is a mystery to herself, as well, always feeling an emptiness inside and having no clue as to who her parents were or how she came to be under the care of the mighty chimera Brimstone. ¬†Karou’s life changes forever when she has a chance encounter with an angel, who seems bent on killing her.
Mixing romance with fantasy and an original take on mythology, Taylor has written a story that feels familiar, yet is constantly surprising and fresh. I had heard elsewhere that this story involved an angel, and would have been completely turned off had I not already read Taylor’s Lips Touch: Three Times. I wasn’t disappointed! There was no mention of Azrael, Raphael, or Michael, nor was there the classic battle in Heaven and fall from grace, a la Paradise Lost.¬†Instead, Taylor plays with our notions of angels and demons and creates a new world with new mythologies.
The writing itself was beautiful and lyrical, and a pleasure to read. Most of the story takes place in Prague, which is an amazing city and a perfect setting for this kind of otherworldly tale. I’ve been there once, and Taylor made me long to return for another visit. The characters are lovely as well. I enjoyed reading about Karou and Akiva, but what really stood out for me was the richness of the secondary characters and their stories. Brimstone came to life from the beginning, and I wish I had more time with him.
It’s hard to express the wonder of this book without giving too much away, so I hope that you’ll seek it out and give it a chance. This seems like a book that will win prizes, as it should. I suspect that inspiration and sources included Paradise Lost, Romeo and Juliet, the writing of the Pre-Raphaelites, and the paintings of Hieronymus¬†Bosch. The story does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, so readers will be biting their nails in anticipation of the next installment.