Karou is a 17-year-old art student living in Prague, but she is also an errand-girl for a monstrous chimaera named Brimstone, who collects teeth for a living. For the past 17 years, her two lives have been balanced between normality and teeth, but now Brimstone is sending her on more errands than ever, and the doors to his shop, to a place between two worlds, are being marked by beautiful humans with winged shadows. Lying at the heart of all this is a dark secret, and Karou is about to find out exactly what it is, and why she has everything to do with it.
This third-person narrative centres wholly around Karou, our protagonist. We find out everything as she does, and wow, is there a lot of suspense because of that. The best part about the reveal is that you really are not expecting the truth, and when it comes, there is a wealth of information, not to mention a whole storyline we were previously only dipped in and out of. While you may have a vague sense of the truth, the reality is so much more complex than you would have expected, and it ties up all the loose ends exquisitely.
Character-wise, Karou is extremely likeable, and so is her tiny friend Zuzanna. Akira, the male lead in the story, takes much, much longer to accept, and even now I am unsure if I am totally on his side. The same can be said for Brimstone, but there may be a lot more to learn about this character.
The book is rich in its' description and in terms of depth. Truly, I do not think I have read a better reveal. However, on that point I have to admit it is a really a book of two halves. The beginning is quite slow to start, with everyday cares and not a lot of action, then it builds up in suspense and action until the second half, where the plot barely moves at all. Instead, it provides an enormous flashback into the past of the characters. While the construction of the book utterly makes sense, you can't help want the present to have pushed on more than it did, especially in terms of Karou's feelings. Luckily, the second book, Days of Blood and Starlight, is out now, so we can carry on reading. I am expecting a lot more action and a lot more present storyline in this next book.
All in all, it is a very enjoyable, fantastical and beautiful read that will keep hope alive in all of us. Young Adults will love it for the sheer imagination of the ideas and for the wonderful way that love, hope and war coalesce in the story. 9 out of 10.
PS: All the covers are awesome for this, but I'm using the UK ones to show you. And I added the Novella at the end too because the cover is lovely.