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?
“Once Upon A Time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well”
More than 5 stars!!! All the stars!
This was a buddy read with @bobosbookbank and @cjrb_tbb and that combined with my special edition from Illumicrate was the kick I needed to finally read that fabulous story!
I don’t know what I will add to the never-ending list of reviews about that book but I still WANT to write something because that book left me with stars in the eyes and a deep need to visit Prague! I also read it so fast as I simply could not stop!
The plot in a tiny nutshell
Karou is an art student in Prague and has a quite mysterious past and life. She has natural deep blue hair and fills notebooks with drawings of fantastic creatures.
She attends the art school with her best sassy friend Zuzana and tries to avoid Kaz, her ex-cheater of a boyfriend. When she is not making art, she is sent on some mysterious errand to collect odd “things”.
Karou does not know who or what she is. Nor does she know who her parents are. And that has haunted her all her life.
One day, she will meet the gorgeous and non-human Akiva and that will set a chain of tragic events in place where her past will collide with her present, threatening her very existence.
Now let’s talk about the writing.
Laini Taylor has a deeply evocative and extremely poetic writing.
Some scenes are worthy of 1001 night tales like the one when Madrigal was covered in a moth shawl. That particular scene, under a starry night, with the act of dressing who had been undressed in silky, colorful moths was swoon worthy!
The same could be said from the scene with the giant master puppeteer and the tiny ballet dancer. It was achingly beautiful. I wanted to cry from the sheer beauty of it!
The world building was rich and complex, with a whole bestiary to enjoy.
Very few books have proved to have such original world buildings. I loved reading about the serpent woman, about all kind of creatures looking part human part beast. About the “other world”. About closed doors, acting like portals to different cities and universes. This was the perfect escape to my day-to-day routine! The magic system was also truly unique!
I absolutely loved how we progressed slowly in the secrets and the worlds. Laini wrote that story like a mystery with clues and hints to help us elucidate Karou’s past. I had theories constantly running in my head, trying to guess her past, her link with Akiva…
“”Who are you?” Kaz asked? “I really don’t know”. Because she really didn’t.”
This book was equally plot and character driven! That’s a rare feat to achieve both with equal dexterity!
I fell in love with the characters!
First of course, Karou.
Karou’s affinity with art and the scene with nude model changing pose every minute threw me back twenty-seven years ago when I was drawing nudes at an academy in Portugal and our model moved every thirty seconds. You had to draw the lines and the essence of the model with a few strokes.
That book not only deeply moved me but also made me all nostalgic. I was itching to grab my charcoal pen and begin drawing again. I felt a deep affinity with her for being a painter.
My heart was also breaking for Karou as she felt that “aloneness” that emptiness deep within her soul. “Because, of all the things in the world, that was her orphan’s craving: love”
But Karou is no frail maiden! She knows how to fight and how to take her revenge when needed LOL.
Even her using some wishes on what could be seen as superficial things was endearing.
Huge, monstrous Brimstone who had raised Karou and had a heart of gold under his beastly exterior. I love it when authors make us realize that appearances can be deceiving and that an ugly face can hide a golden heart. There is the huge question about what makes a monster. Also that the “good guys” (no spoiler) are not always who you think!
There is some role reversal in this book under the theme of slavery that I really enjoyed!
Of course, don’t get me started on Akiva.
He is one of my favorite book boyfriends and when I learned the truth, my heart completely broke!
Speaking of the truth, I loved how Laini had me tricked about “what” his lover was!!! She completely fooled me there 😊 .
I adored Zuzana’s protectiveness and sass. The banter with Karou had me chuckling more than once!
“Oh! Hell! Must. Mate. Immediately.”
Add to this the starcrossed lovers or forbidden romance and I was a total goner!!!
There is not a single thing that I didn’t love in that story! I won’t be able to wait until mid-April to get the rest of the special edition and already ordered the complete paperback set LOL
I want to end this already long review with two more favorite quotes:
“Never repent of your own goodness, child. To stay true in the face of evil is a feat of strength.”
“Your soul sings to mine. My soul is yours, and it always will be, in any world. No matter what happens.”
Have you read that book?
Thanks for reading!
A friend gave me this trilogy. Guess I’d better bump it up the TBR pile.
Yes you should lol
I’ll let you know when I start!
This is on my list of series to finally start this year so I’m thrilled to hear how much you enjoyed it. 🙂
It was indeed amazing Suzanne!
When plot and characters worked out both perfectly, you know something was done right! Glad to read how much you enjoyed this one. Great review, Sophie! 🙂
Ooooh I’ve got this on my tbr shelves, I’m even more excited to pick it up now!
This sounds way too good by the way you fawned over here, Sophie What’s the genre? I’ll go add it to my TBR❤️
It’s YA fantasy Ari!
Ah!!! So glad you loved it! — It didn’t capture me to the same degree as Strange the Dreamer, but — even then — it was such a wonderful read! Laini Taylor has a way with words!
Yes she is very gifted and I can’t wait to read Strange the Dreamer after this one!
Strange the Dreamer is the definition is amazing! 🙂 You’ll love it!
Fab review and a great buddy read! It was so good wasn’t it! (Ps – my post didn’t post yesterday, the joys of WordPress, so I need to reschedule!)
It was amazing Caro! Thank you for doing this with me.
And am looking forward to KA February!!!!
This is such a well written review! I definitely need to read this book soon!
ahh and another great review!!
Thank you Erin!
oh this book sounds incredible! Some of the best books we read are the ones that we literally can’t stop reading!! And its always interesting to see role reversal’s especially when well written.
Thank you Renee!
Sounds like you really enjoyed this one, Sophie! ☺️
Wow! Going by the blurb I would never have chosen this book, but your review grabbed me!
Mission accomplished then Jacquie!
YAY! I’m so happy to hear how much you loved this! I’m hoping to read it before it drops on Netflix and if you loved it, then there’s a good chance I will too. *fingers crossed*
What? It will be on Netflix???? Yay!!!
Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Netflix? Tell me more!