I can see thousands of teenage girls getting seriously into this. So where to begin describing it?
When Karou’s friends in her Prague art school look at the pictures of the demons (Chimera) in her sketch book, Grimstone the wishmonger, and Issa the beautiful, gentle snake-woman, they love her imagination. But in her other world, in the world of Brimstone’s shop where he exchanges teeth for wishes, it is her “exotic” human drawings that Chimera are drawn to.
Karou – a human girl – has no idea who she is, only that she grew up in Brimstone’s shop and continues to run errands for him in the human world. She knows nothing of where the Chimera come from, or the terrible war they are fighting in another world. But one day she is attacked by an angel, and is told to warn Brimstone that “the Seraph have returned”. In her haste to find him, she stumbles into another world, where she finds Chimera bodies on biers, each bearing the same mark of the evil eye she has on her own palms. Enraged for her intrusion, Brimstone casts her out and bans her from their world.
But the angel, with his fiery orange eyes and blood that somehow calls to her, is looking for her. And two opposing forces collide. As Karou falls for the angel Akiva, she becomes aware that something awful has happened to Brimstone. And as for Akiva, he discovers a truth about Karou that he wishes he hadn’t. It’s a truth that will tear them apart, and ensures the continuance to the war between the Seraph and Chimera.
The first half of this – before Karou’s secret is revealed – is terrific. Tantalising in its possibilities. Once the secret is revealed, it becomes a little more workmanlike. What saves it however, is the fact that this is far from a simple romance. There is so much between Akiva and Karou that you cannot imagine a happy ending to this series. The war is unimaginably self-sustaining, and the loathing between the two races seems to know no boundaries – especially when the awful secret destroys all hope. You’ll want to know what happens next, and fortunately the second book in the series is already out.