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.
The story of Karou's past is very complicated one, one that even she isn't sure about. All she knows is that her adoptive family are lovely but monstrous. They are, after all, chimera: a mixture of human and animal. I was instantly attracted to Karou's story and her strange family, the seductive and detailed prose flowing so naturally, I could swear I was in the streets of Prague with everyone! Not to mention the "magic door" that transports Karou all over the world.
This novel was purely endless fun and magic. I loved how Taylor flawlessly blended the mythology of the chimera and magic wishes with the threat of being found out in the real world, and then the danger that sought Karou out. I loved the mystery and the fairytale-esque dual world, with its sort of familiar mythology built up around this one girl that linked the two. And the history of the chimera was fascinating, especially their endless war with the serephs, the angel-like creatures like Akiva.
Karou was this endless amazing young girl. I mean, she could draw, she had blue hair, she didn't give up on her family and was even strong enough to trust her supposed enemy if it meant finding the truth about herself. But under this tough exterior was a girl not sure in herself and desperate to find happiness and love. As for Akiva, he'll certainly make you think twice about the angel's all-good image! Not to mention get your heart racing!
All in all, an amazing and practically perfect blend of magic and danger, mythology and history mixing to make Karou's incredible past the most enjoyable read. And I for one cannot wait to find out more about her past, her family, the world that sits just beyond a door to ours.
Published 29th September 2011 by Hodder and Stoughton.