“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” So begins this lushly imagined tale of “forbidden love, an ancient and epic battle, and hope for a world remade.” The real story opens with Karou, blue-haired and tattooed Prague art student. She is the human foster child of monsters: a taciturn creature named Brimstone, who trades wishes for human and animal teeth and spends his days stringing them into mysterious necklaces, and his assistants. Brimstone’s shop, the only home Karou has ever known, has one door that can lead out into any of a number of doors on earth — Karou has grown up all over the world — and one door she is never allowed to see opened. Who is she? What are the eyes tattooed on her palms, which have been there as long as she can remember? Who are Brimstone and the others, who love her but will answer none of her questions? And what is on the other side of that door?
I adored this. I was hooked from the very beginning, and am so grateful that the 48-Hour Book Challenge gave me the excuse to read the second half straight through this afternoon instead of any number of things I should probably have done. Taylor’s imagination is boundless, intricate, and beautifully rendered. The mysteries are paid out with perfect pacing, just the right amount of foreshadowing and clues to lead to several false interpretations before being surprised but entirely satisfied by the real answers.
It is, of course, “to be continued.” Sigh.
Cover: The top image is of the final cover. The bottom image is of the cover on the ARC I have, which I vastly prefer. The mask is pretty, but it could be any fantasy with Venetian-inspired masked balls and whatnot. The discarded cover expresses more effectively, I think, the otherworldliness of the story and its characters. Plus, those colors! So striking. Ah, well. I will treasure my ARC, anyway.
ARC generously provided by the editor.