Karou is an art student living in Prague, with blue hair and over 90 sketchbooks full of drawings of mythical, make believe creatures. At least that’s who everyone thinks she is, but they don’t know that her creatures are real and that the monstrous creatures are who Karou calls family. Yet, however close she is to them, she doesn’t know all of their secrets, what Brimstone does with the teeth he collects or in fact who she herself is. When the doors to Elsewhere suddenly start closing, Karou is left to turn and face the secrets she has always longed to discover.
I loved the character of Karou. She was just so original and interesting, she had personality and stood out from other protagonists I have read about in YA fantasy. However, one small criticism I have is that she was a bit too perfect sometimes? I don’t know. I think I would have liked her to do something stupid or make a mistake or something. It would have been better if she was a little more like a realistic person with faults. That being said, she was with out a doubt still awesome. Speaking of awesome characters, we come to Zuzana. What a brilliant, strong female character! She was a perfect friend for Karou, and furthermore, was a funny, yet formidable character who brightened the pages of this book considerably. And Mik was just so sweet and loveable. I think Akiva could have had a bit more to him, a bit more personality maybe? I’m not really sure. I liked him a lot, but I do think there was something missing from his character.
The plot was just GREAT. Such a wonderful balance of romance, action, fantasy, comedy. I wasn’t bored at any point whatsoever, the book just kept moving but not too frantically. It was just paced so perfectly. The mysteriousness of it, and the way that it just keeps the audience hooked for over half, waiting for the reveal. Honestly, the suspense for the majority of this novel… I just wanted to find out something which I’m not going to say because spoilers. Although I think I am very late to the party with this one, it seemed like everyone had read it except me! But I did start it ages ago and didn’t finish it, not because of any problem with the book, I think I was just slightly too young for it at the time. But I really can’t do justice to the way this book keeps you on the edge of your seat, but balances this intensity out just the perfect amount.
I think one of the standout things with this book for most people, including me, is the whole atmosphere of it. The setting is gorgeous, of the streets of Prague, and this combined with the whole artsy vibe to the book and of course the chimera, was just stunning. The writing was so passionate, not over the top but it was beautiful to read without being overly descriptive or overpowering everything out. It wasn’t at all hard to read, but at the same time the language used had substance. Like with most things in this book, the balance was perfection.
Leading on from the atmosphere is the inventiveness. This novel was packed with originality, yet somehow it didn’t seem too weird to read about, which is impressive seeing as this is a girl with blue hair living with a family of monsters. There was just the right amount of weirdness balanced with normality. I so loved the art element of this! I adore art so it was kind of relatable to me, and I think the art really added an extra flair to this book. I really liked the twisted portrayals of chimera and angels, and how neither are as contrasting as you might think. Having a strong concept like this helped to propel the book to greater heights than some other YA fantasy, in my opinion.
This book was entirely absorbing thanks to the outstanding balance of all the different ingredients: fantasy, romance, humour, etc. set off with a spark of originality. It genuinely kept me turning pages and gripped me and pulled me into the streets of Prague to roam among monsters. The characters were a pleasure to read about and all in all this is one of the best YA fantasy books I have read, very highly recommended.