Daughter of smoke and bone by Laini Taylor
Hodder and Stoughton, 2011. ISBN 9781444722635.
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Karou keeps two lives in balance. On one hand she is an art student in Prague, on the other she travels around the world collecting teeth from endangered animals and criminals for Brimstone, a monster who is family to her. She was raised half in Elsewhere and half in the normal world. When the doors to Elsewhere begin to close, Karou is forced to choose between the human world and the strange and dangerous place behind the doors.
Taylor has created a fabulous world for this highly original fantasy. The beautiful city of Prague is brought to life, with its intimate coffee shops and narrow alleyways. Then there is Elsewhere, a frightening but compelling world, where Brimstone concocts strange beings and the land is being torn apart by war.
Karou's normal life as an art student is vividly described. She has blue hair and is immersed in the art scene in Prague, drawing unusual fantasy creatures that no one guesses are her family. She is strong and independent, careful of her friends, but hiding secrets. When Brimstone sends a message via the almost crow, she drops everything to do his bidding. The reason that Karou collects teeth is a wonderful device used by Taylor and kept me guessing until all was revealed. Other twists and turns were introduced as well that kept the suspense of the story quite enthralling.
For those who like romance with their paranormal fantasy, Akiva, an angel who loves Karou, will be a satisfying partner as the tragic events that surround him provide Karou with clues to her real identity.
Taylor has created a rich world world that will ensure that readers eagerly await the next book in the series. The ending, which is a cliff-hanger, is also sure to both frustrate readers who longed for a satisfying conclusion and entice people into reading the sequel.