Cover Beauty Score: 4 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 3 out of 5
Plot Blurb: Karou is a girl who lives in Prague, loves art, and has a secret family of demons. Running errands for her unconventional demonic family (really - they're demons) all over the world is sometimes dangerous, but never boring. She finds teeth from around the globe and traffics the magic they hold for her adoptive family, bringing the contraband to the alternate dimension where her family lives. But things change when an even more dangerous (not to mention good looking) stranger spots her on one of her missions, things begin to fall apart and Karou finally learns why a part of her has felt missing her entire life.
My Reaction: Well this book came incredibly highly recommended - I feel like every blog and reviewer with similar taste as mine has sung the praises of Lani Taylor for well over a year. And I bought this book a long time ago because of that. It's just been sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read since then.
And it was good! Great, even... I absolutely loved the character of Karou. She was fiercely independent and self sufficient. Blue hair, tattoos, and martial arts training? Now that's my kind of heroine! She didn't take shit from anybody and she certainly knew how to treat her cheating sleazy ex boyfriend. Karou is an intriguing chick - a sort personality that feels like a goth hipster Buffy Summers.
Ad then we have Akiva, the brooding and sexy angel that swoops out of the skies and into Karou's life with flaming wings and hard core brooding stares. Although he initially sets out to kill Karou, we all know the best relationships start with attempted assassinations. He has an immediate fascination with Karou, despite obviously having a tortured past. His character is established as complex and lengthy in a way that Karou is oblivious to. He knows more about her adoptive demon family than she seems to, which is intriguing in itself.
The story flows well, filling out with great dialogue and interesting characters. As soon as we're introduced to Karou's family that resides in a sort of alternate dimension, the world building is phenomenal. We get a glimpse at these creatures and it feels right away like a Hellboy family - dark and weird and loving in its own way. Brimstone was an absolutely fabulous creature, well described and infinitely complex for Karou's father figure.
And then things get a little weirder. Not in a horrible way, but without mentioning any spoilers, Karou learns the truth about who she is and why her family keeps secrets from her that this new sexy Akiva seems to know. And we have to abandon everything we thought Karou was, somewhat abandoning her story completely and learning a completely new one.
This is where it lost me, really. I adored Karou so much that I didn't want to read about a life without her, even if it was still her. She lost her fire. In fleshing out her history, Taylor seems to completely neglect the main character we have come to know and love. And in her place, we get a sort of lack luster sappy romantic love story with not much substance at all. A mythical Romeo and Juliet adaptation that honestly felt like it could have been written by a middle schooler.
Where was my fiery blue haired martial arts expert who likes to draw nudes at school one day and run around on missions trying not to get shot at the next? I wanted Karou back! Too much romantic sap and not enough ass kicking!
Will I read the second one? Probably. But just in the hope that Taylor will be able to erase the entire second half of this book and give me Karou back to read. Should you pick this one up? Probably. It's entertaining, if nothing else. The writing itself is superb - another great author in the making here. Let's just hope book 2 has more action and adventure and less face sucking and romantic destiny.