By Laini Taylor
Once upon a time,
an angel and a devil fell in love.
It did not end well.
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?
Opening line: Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.
Closing line: This was not the end.
“Yearning for love made her feel like a cat that was always twining around ankles, meowing Pet me, pet me, look at me, love me.”
“Skip meeting him? The butterflies, the pounding heart, the blushing? The part where you enter each other’s magnetic fields for the first time, and it’s like invisble lines of energy are drawing you together-”
p 22″I don’t know many rules to live by,”he’d said. “But here’s one. It’s simple. Don’t put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles – drug or tattoo – and …no inessential penises, either.”
“Inessential penises?” Karou had repeated, delighted with the phrase in spite of her grief. “Is there such as a thing as an essential one?”
“When an essential one comes along, you’ll know,” he’d replied. “Stop squandering yourself, child. Wait for love.”
“Love.” Her delight evaporated. She’d thought that was love.
“It will come, and you will know it,” Brimstone had promised, and she so wanted to believe him. He’d been alive for hundreds of years. Hadn’t he?
p43 They were wrapped in canvas and duct taped, and when a street musician lowered his violin to enquire, “Hey lovely, what you got there?” she said, “Musicians who asked questions,” and kept on dragging.
p43 “Your body is nothing but an envelope, Karou. Your soul is another matter, and is not, as far as I know in any immediate danger.”
“An envelope?” She didn’t like to think of her body as an envelope – something others might be able to open up and rifle through, remove things like so many clipped coupons.
“I assumed you felt the same way,” he’d said. “The way you scribble on it.”
Brimstone didn’t approve of her tattoos, which was funny, since he was responsible for her first, the eyes on her palms.”
p45 Well. Getting the tusks up the Metro steps at her destination was a lot harder than dragging them down had been, and by the top Karou was exhausted, sweating under her winter coat, and extremely peevish.
p71 Karou wished she could be the kind of girl who was complete unto herself, comfortable in solitude, serene. But she wasn’t. She was lonely, and she feared the missingness within her as if it might expand and . . . cancel her. She craved a presence beside her, solid. Fingertips light at the nape of her neck and a voice meeting hers in the dark. Someone who would wait with an umbrella to walk her home in the rain, and smile like sunshine when he saw her coming. Who would dance with her on her balcony, keep his promises and know her secrets, and make a tiny world wherever he was, with just her and his arms and his whisper and her trust.
“He can’t see it. It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. THe dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry ‘Monster!’ and looked behind him.”
“He was right. It made no sense at all, but the feeling flooded through Karou, and whatever it was, it was as sweet as a patch of sun on a glossy floor and, like a cat, she just wanted to curl up in it.”
“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
“Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.”
“It’s not like there’s a law against flying.”
“Yes there is. The law of gravity.”
“Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort. It was all those things, intertwined with the heat and the thrill, and it was as bright within her as a swallowed star.”
“Hey! My body may be small, but my soul is large. It’s why I wear platforms. So I can reach the top of my soul.”
“Stars got tangled in her hair whenever she played in the sky.”
“Oh, Hell. Must. Mate. Immediately.”
“But he is pretty. God, I hope he’s not an asshole. Do you think there’s any chance he’s both non-orifice and single? I mean, seriously. What are the chances?”
“She had a sadness that was so deep, but it still could turn to light in a second,and when I saw her smile I wondered what it would be like to make her smile. I thought…I thought it would be like the discovery of smiling.”
“He actually listened, rather than pretending to listen while waiting a suitable interval before it was his time to talk again…”
“How much does your life have to suck to want the Apocalypse?”
“…You are not just going to vanish like this, Karou. This isn’t some goddamn Narnia book.”
“You were true to her, even if she was not to you. Never repent of your own goodness, child. To stay true in the face of evil is a feat of strength.”