Cannonball Read IV: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
I read a few really great reviews of this book last year and kept meaning to pick it up, but there was something about the art on the front cover that made me say "meh"...and I kept putting it off. A vague face in a blue Mardi Gras mask? Whatever. But then, around Christmas, I had some free time -- with grandparents visiting and playing with the kids, I could actually sit down and read a few books -- so, I finally gave it a shot. And am so glad I did.
This is the story of Karou, a 17 year-old living in Prague and going to art school. She has no traditional family, but instead was raised by a group of mysterious creatures called chimaera -- creatures who are made up of various different animal or human parts (e.g., human body with lizard head, female head and torso with snake bottom, male torso and head with wolf legs, etc.).
Her foster father is Brimstone, who mysteriously collects human teeth and then uses them to grant wishes. Brimstone and his team live in a mysterious world that is not quite our world, but accessible through portals (actual doors in various cities on Earth). Karou acts as a messenger for Brimstone, traveling across the globe and collecting teeth for him, but never fully understanding why.
On a trip to Morocco, she notices that the portal door has a black handprint burned into it (and each door around the world receives a similar marking), and then she comes across a ferocious -- and beautiful -- angel named Akiva.
The story then becomes the tale of Akiva, the angel warrior, and the war between his people and the chimaera. And it gives background on who Karou is and why/how she was raised in Brimstone's mysterious world.
This was a terrific story, with lively characters and beautiful descriptions. It made me want to go back to Prague for a second visit, as it brought the city to life in my memory. I was never annoyed by the potential romance between the characters (unlike say, any stories with sparkly vampires in it), and would happily read the next book in the series.
For more of Scootsa1000's reviews, check out her blog, I Lost on Jeopardy.
This review is part of Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it.