"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love."
"It did not end well."
Mysterious, blue-haired, seventeen-year-old Karou leads two lives at once: On the one side, she is a not-so-normal art student in Prague, where she lives in a beautifully decorated flat and meets her best friend Zuzana at fancy cafes.On the other side, she is the pupil and adoptee of the Chimaera Brimstone, whose head is that of a ram and whose eyes and feet are those of a crocodile, and who works in a shop whose doors open to almost any place in the world, if he only wants them to. Brimstone is a teeth-collecting wishmonger and it is Karou's job to bring those teeth to him. She does not know what he needs those for, nor where she came from or why she was raised among Chimaera in the wishmonger's shop.Then, mysterious black handprints start to appear on the doors to Brimstone's shop. Karou doesn't think much of it, until she's not able to get in anymore. The drama thickens when Brimstone's messenger approaches her, dying, and leaves her the wishbone Brimstone always wore around his neck and forbade her to even touch.Akiva is a Seraph, a warrior for an angel empire who are at war with the Chimaera. Even though she works for them, Karou fascinates him deeply and she eventually returns this fascination. Their feeling for each other, as it is revealed, root in an even bigger conflict in the past.This YA fantasy series by Laini Taylor so far consists of:
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Days of Blood and Starlight
Dreams of Gods and Monsters (out in Spring 2014)
"Night of Cake and Puppets" (a novella about supporting characters Zuzana and Mik)
Karou also fits this: she has a lot of martial arts and general self-defense training, and often isn't afraid to use it. She's also very decisive over her own life, and is generally a very strong character.
Ambiguously Brown: Akiva is mentioned as having dark skin, and is half Stelian- a race of people who live on the opposite side of the world from the normally white seraphim, and have distinctively Egyptian imagery. However, it's never outright stated exactly what his race would be considered.
Kazimir is a Czech name, though it's very rare. (Svetlana is a common female name, though not particularly popular.)
Karou's martial arts teacher from Hongkong is called a "sensei".
The eye tattoos on Karou's hands are called "hamsas", while actually, this is the word for a symbol in the shape of a hand, also called "the hand of Fatima", which does not necessarily contain an eye. The correct term is nazar.
In the second book, Zuzana jokes how she would marry her boyfriend and signing as "Mrs. Mikolas Vavra", something Anglo-Saxon would say, but Czech would not. Women do take their husband's surname, but they are never used with the given name. She woudl just say Mrs Vavra or Mrs Vavrova (-ova is a suffix signifying a female variant of the surname).
Big Screwed-Up Family: The entire royal family. The fact that Joram technically has thousands of children doesn't help. One of the crown princes murdered his brother, and there's also the fact that Akiva kills his father, and then Jael kills the last prince still alive.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: When in the first book Karou tries to make a cab driver do her a favour with her Scuppies and her charm, the German translation mistakes the latter one for an amulet. It also uses male titles for the diamond merchant Esther, who poses as Karou's grandmother.
Break the Cutie: Ziri definitely counts. Even though before his appearance he's already experienced the genocide of his clan and watched his childhood crush get executed, he just gets worse and worse throught Days of Blood and Starlight, leading up to his ultimate Heroic Sacrifice
Body Horror: Razgut. His fall from "heaven" and thousands of years haven't done much for his appearance.
Cain and Abel: Joram's oldest son was murdered by the second, in pursuit of the throne. Jael later manipulates Akiva into Joram for him.
The Caligula: Joram. While perhaps sane of mind, he tends to lead insane conquests, has a violent temper, incredible amount of pride, and has "visited" enough concubines to have fathered an army of over 3,000.
Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Aside from the seraphim, Eretz has a HUGE amount of distinct Chimaera races, many of them modeled after mythical creatures. Centaurs and dragons have been mentioned as well.
Freakiness Shame: Among the Chimaera, it is definitely more popular to be High-Human than it is to have an animal head.
Possibly the fantasy equivalent of But Not Too Black, since the Chimera were once enslaved by the Seraphim. Maybe high-human Chimera, who looked more like angels, were more likely to be promoted to easier tasks and thus considered luckier.
Last Of Their Kind: Ziri is said to be the last Kirin in his natural flesh. Of course, he loses it.
Little Bit Beastly: The High-Human variety of Chimaera, who have human bodies and heads and only some attributes of animals. Madrigal has a gazelle's legs and horns, as well as leathery wings, but otherwise, looks human.
Love at First Sight: Somewhat justified, since Akiva and Karou fell in love before but don't realize it
Magic A Is Magic A: The wishes, which are graded into subcategories according to their power.
Meaningful Name: Karou, whose name means “hope” in the tongue of the Chimaera.
Rapunzel Hair: It is often described just how long Karou's hair is.
Refuge in Audacity: When asked, Karou usually tells the truth. Yes, the hair grows blue from her head. No, she doesn't have a tattoo with Kazimir's initials on her chest. Yes, Brimstone and the other Chimaera are actually real. She does so with a wry smile because she knows that this way, nobody will believe her anyway.