This story is about a young 17 year old girl living two lives, one human and one not. Its about her struggle in both, and a destiny she doesn't know she has and its a romance. The book opens in the the streets of Prague where we meet a young 17 year old art student named Karou, waiting for her drawing class to start. Other than her blue hair and oddly tattooed hands, Karou seems to be an ordinary 17 year old girl. She lives in her own apartment and has a best friend named Zuzana who is a fellow art student. Zuzana meets up with Karou outside the school and asks what's new with Brimstone. Brimstone is a character in Karou's journals that she draws in, along with Issa, Yasri, and Twiga. When Karou begins to show her the latest story, we begin to understand that these fantasy characters are actually real, and in fact raised Karou from an infant. They are Chimaera, a mix of beast, animal, and human, who live in the “Elsewhere”, as Brimstone calls it, and Karou lives in both worlds.
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Karou is summoned by Brimstone to his shop, to run an errand to Pairs, to retrieve elephant tusks from an auction. This is when we discover that Brimstone has a thing for collecting teeth, yet we still don't know why, and that Brimstone's store entrance is a portal to anywhere in the world. When Karou returns to the portal door she notices a black hand print above the door. The hand print is burned in and nothing will make it go away. We find out that these burned handprints are showing up at Brimstone's portals all over the world.
After spending most of her week running errand after errand for Brimstone, her relationship with Zuzana starts to suffer. She is desperate to tell Zuzana that she already knows her secrets, but she holds back, and instead vows to ignore Brimstones latest summons, but it's a short lived rebellion. Once she returns to the shop, she is warned by Issa that Brimstone is having a tough time and she needs to be easy on him. Brimstone shows worry that one day Karou will choose to never return to him. He sends her on and errand to meet with a long time client, a grave robber, once dentist, to see what teeth he has available, all the while she notices that the once full jars of teeth, are running very low, and that this particular pick up is ahead of schedule, but she obeys and heads to her destination through the portal.
As Karou walks out of Brimstones portal, she is spied by Akiva, a Seraph, and one of the three Seraphim burning the hand prints into the portal doorways. Akiva is confused by Karou, as she looks nothing like Brimstones normal clientele. He is also strangely drawn to her and finds himself following her. As Karou meets with the grave robber she is disappointed by his selection of teeth he presents to her. Karou has been taught how to tell the value of teeth through there vibration and these teeth are far from what Brimstone would be happy with. She spots some baby teeth and scolds the man for offering them as part of the package, demanding that Brimstone does not buy baby teeth. She is surprised when the man tells her that once, a long time ago he did.
As Akiva watches the interaction with the grave robber and Karou, he becomes even more confused. She works with the teeth like Brimstone himself, yet she is obviously not Chimaera, she is human.
Karou makes her trade and heads back toward the portal only to be stopped in her tracks by the crowd standing shocked in the street all looking at Akiva, who is looking at her. The grave robber warns Karou to run back to Brimstone and tell him that the Seraph have come. Fearing that this being will try to kill her before she can make it to the portal Karou runs for her life and is followed by Akiva. They meet at the portal, where they battle. Once Akiva has Karou on her back she holds her tattooed palms out in defense, and notices that Akiva is thrown back. She now realizes that her tattoos, Eyes, are actually a weapon against the Seraph. She makes it back into the portal, not a moment to soon, bloody and beaten. Issa keeps her in the shop to recover.
Karou wakes up with no one around, only to see that a door that she has never been allowed to enter is cracked open. She defiantly enters, only to be taken into a world she has never seen before. She is in a type of fortress, and she wonders around in awe at what she can only assume is the Elsewhere. She finds a room with what she believes are dead Chimaera, lying on tables. She approaches one and touches him only to be struck to the ground by the white wolf Chimaera demanding to know who she is and where she came from. Brimstone burst in and saves her, only to bring her back to the shop and throw her out, shouting that she has no idea what she put a risk.
Feeling lost, abandoned, and confused, Karou goes back to her apartment and is confronted by Zuzana. Emotionally broken Karou tells Zuzana everything knowing she will not believe her, when Brimstones messenger flies into the apartment burned and dies in Karou's hands. Karou flees to the portal and finds it in flames, burned to the ground. Not knowing if her Chimaera family is dead or alive.
She finds out that all the portals have been destroyed. Later Akiva, who has been following her, confronts her. Karou attacks him and Akiva wont fight back. Once the battle has come to a pause Karou agrees to let Akiva talk, but all he can say is that he burned the portals and that he has know idea why he can't stay away from her.
Akiva and Karou spend a couple of days together and start to fall for one another when Akiva notices a wishbone necklace around Karou's neck. The necklace was given to Karou by Brimstones messenger as he died. The wishbone necklace put Akiva on his knees, as he now understands his draw to her, and knows exactly who she is.
Akiva convinces Karou that they must brake the wishbone so that she will know who she is. Once broken Karou realizes that she is in fact Madrigal, a Chimaera that once saved Akiva in battle and fell in love. Madrigal was executed by her people for falling in love with the enemy and Brimstone, out of love for her, saved her sole, and put it in a human childs body created by his magic, in which he needed baby teeth, and placed her memories in the wishbone.
Karou is over joyed that she knows who she is and was, and that Akiva is her destiny. Akiva must tell her that he did not know that Brimstone had saved her, and had he known he would never have done what he did. Kill Brimstone, Issa, Twiga and Yasri. Karou is now more than heart broken and past angry, and leaves Akiva. She sets out to find the last portal to her world and search for anything to save her people and maybe even her family.
Best part of story, including ending:
I love the romeo and Juliet style romance that this story has and the unique characters.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Akiva sees the wishbone necklace and brakes down to Karou. I love the raw emotion you can feel as a reader.
Opinion about the main character:
I love how Karou is so mysterious and she is also kind of snarky which I can relate to.