Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came.
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.
I had been wanting to reAd this for some time, but I visited Prague in September and ended up discussing this book while there and that only made me want to read it more. Well, I am so glad I did. And especially after visiting Prague, as seeing the city in my mind made the parts of the book set there spring to life. Now I need to go to Marrakesh too 😂
The writing in this book is just so evocative and beautiful. It manages to encompass some of my least favourite things (epic flashback and instalove) and make them necessary, brilliant and lovely.
I liked Karou as a main character, and the way her curiosity, frustrations and stubbornness really make her seem real. Her story as it plays out is really interesting and the book wouldn’t work at all without the flashback to Madrigal. Frustrated though I can be with that plot device, it works so well here. I think Madrigal is in some ways a more interesting character but I don’t actually like her as much as I do Karou! I think possibly her instalove with Akiva lol. And talking of Akiva, he is frustrating by the end of the book, but also fantastic for being so flawed. His reasons for everything he does are so good and clear.
I also like that, while there’s a war going on, and while the story is mostly centred around Karou and the chimera, we don’t really get a view from the author on which side is in the “right”. It does lean towards the chimera, but we hear both sides of the story and no conclusion is really reached. Especially with the ending. I love that. It’s so unusual! Both sides are hugely flawed and desperate to win.
4.5 stars overall and I can’t wait to pick up a copy of book 2.
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