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? -Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads
I'd walked past this book a dozen times in bookstores and every time I thought "Oo what a pretty cover... But 'winged stangers'? Star-crossed love? Meh..." Then I noticed the bit about a mysterious shop, monsters, and an interestingly named, blue-haired heroine. That was enough to convince me to give the book a chance and I am so glad I did.
Taylor's writing is fantastic. I cared instantly about Karou, couldn't wait to learn more about the "monsters" in her sketchbook, and was completely drawn into the shadowy streets of Prague. It may seem redundant to point out the magic realism in a fantasy book, but that's honestly one of my favorite things about this book. Even the mundane seems magical thanks to Taylor's lush writing, and it makes you feel that even our own world is full of weird, strange, terrifying and wonderful things just around the corner. Her writing style reminds me of books & stories by Neil Gaiman, Charles DeLint, Alice Hoffman and even Jorge Luis Borges, and I don't mean to imply that she is copying any of them. She's just that good.
I'd write more about the plot, but I think this is one of those books where the more discoveries you make for yourself, the better. I will say that I loved it, that it is one of my favorite books I've read all year, and that the ending will leave you on tenterhooks for the sequel.