Laini Taylor (Lips Touch) once again blends romance, otherworldly beings, and the yin and yang of joy and pain, and light and dark in her latest tantalizing novel.
Karou, 17 years old, with bright blue hair and a "constellation of tattoos," lives in Prague, where she's studying to be an artist. Through Karou's sketchbook, we learn of her "secret world," populated by chimaera: Issa, a serpent from the waist down and woman from the waist up, and Brimstone, the Wishmonger with ram horns and reptilian eyes and patriarch of their patchwork family. They raised Karou as their own from age five, and Karou knows nothing else of her past. Karou buys teeth for Brimstone, and she receives scuppies (wishes) as payment from him. On one of these errands, Karou comes face to face with a seraphim. She uses the eye-like tattoos on her hands to repel the creature. But she finds she cannot kill him, just as he cannot bring himself to kill her. The rest of the novel delves into the mystery of the connection they feel, which in turn leads to a revelation of Karou's identity. They confide the legends told by the seraphim and the chimaera in order to sow seeds of hatred. The two dream of "a world remade," one large enough to contain their love.
Taylor elevates this tale beyond a story of two star-crossed lovers by exploring the ways that society demonizes "the other" and by filling her tale with captivatingly complex characters. Readers will eagerly await the planned sequel. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness