by Laini Taylor
The first in a series; the second title is Days of Blood and Starlight, due out on Nov. 6, 2012
Reading level: 8th grade and up
Reviewed by: Anarda
S U M M A R Y
Karou is a tall, lovely, 17-year-old girl with long blue hair and a variety of unusual tattoos, not the least being a hamsa, an “evil eye” tattoo, on each of her palms, a part of her for as long as she can remember. Enrolled as an art student in Prague, Karou hides an enormous secret from the very few people she befriends, a secret that is about to be blown wide open. Karou has been raised by a quartet of extraordinary beings who live in a hidden space “elsewhere,” located behind seemingly ordinary doorways that are found throughout the world but which can only be opened from the inside, and only for her and for a very select group of “hunters” and “merchants.” And what do these hunters bring to Karou’s home, and what is she, too, sent out to find? Oddly enough, she and the others are tasked to bring the healthy teeth taken from all manner of animals, including human, to the head of her “family,” the grim and powerful Brimstone. But why, Karou wonders for the millionth time, does Brimstone need all these teeth, and why won’t any member of her family answer any of her important questions, including the most basic questions of who she is and where she's from? And meanwhile, who is mysteriously placing blackened handprints on all the portals?
R E V I E W
Thus begins a tale of startling twists and turns, romantic and harrowing, and always adventurous. I do not want to spoil any of the surprises of the book--and there are many--so I’m merely scratching the surface about this extraordinarily enjoyable novel. I did not want to put down and, once I finished it, I shamelessly started it over again! I wanted once more to savor the wonderful descriptions of Prague and Karou’s “family,” be astounded by her friend Zuzana’s marionette show, and relive the tension that grows between Akiva and Karou as they slowly realize what exactly it is that binds them to one another. I’ve promised myself a trip to Prague based on the vivid descriptions in this book, but alas, I don’t think I’ll be meeting Kishmish or Brimstone, the glorious Akiva or the tiny Zuzana, or the intrepid, courageous Karou-of-the-blue-hair. But I do plan on seeing a marionette show! And I am definitely waiting impatiently for the sequel; I’m calling dibs on the first check-out!
The cover art does have a certain relevance to the story, but you won’t find out why until the last part of the book.
Rating: 4.5 to 5
I’m not sure it could have been better written, and while I’ve read my fair share of this “genre” or trope (you’ll understand what I mean once you’ve started to read it), I’ve never been so intrigued by a back story like this one; this book could not have been predicted by its predecessors in the genre.