"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.
All Love Is Unrequited: Ziri has loved Karou since she was Madrigal but realizes almost immediately he has no chance since she's already in love with Akiva.
Angst Nuke: Akiva unleashes a magical one right after realizing how Jael intends to use him as The Scapegoat and sees Hazael die and breaks every window in the entire city of Astrae (which, given how the city is made of mostly glass, is a lot)
Later on her unleashes what seems to more or less be a literal angst nuke that stops a bloodbath from occurring by means of hitting everyone with a wave of despair.
Kazimir is a Czech name, though it's very rare. (Meanwhile Svetlana, presumably the full name of Svetla, is a common female name, though not particularly popular.)
Karou's martial arts teacher from Hongkong is called a "sensei" a Japanese term.
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 would just say Mrs Vavra or Mrs Vavrova (-ova is a suffix signifying a female variant of the surname).
Attempted Rape: Figures into the myths of the Chimaera, who say that the Sun god attempted to rape one of the two sister moons but was fought off, with the blood from where she stabbed him becoming the seraphim. And then Thiago tries this on Karou in the second book, but Karou stabs him before he can do anything.
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.
Body Horror: Razgut. His fall from "heaven" and thousands of years haven't done much for his appearance.
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 throughout Days of Blood and Starlight, leading up to his ultimate Heroic Sacrifice
Bring News Back: A variation: when the Chimaera plan an attack they always have at least one member hang back and out of harm's way so they can glean their souls and resurrect them should they fall in battle.
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.
Chekhov's Gun: It's mentioned by Izil that while Brimstone generally doesn't take baby teeth, he did ask for them once. Karou realizes later that this was so he could make her a human child body.
Death Is Cheap: Thanks to Resurrectionists, death is only a minor inconvenience provided that a.) the deceased's soul can be gleaned before it evanesces (disperses) in a thurible b.) a new body can be made for the soul. It's mentioned that Thiago has already died and been resurrected some half-dozen times, and as a result is interested in Madrigal partly because she is "pure" and still has her original body.
El Cid Ploy: By the end of Days of Blood and StarlightThiago and Ten's bodies are inhabited by the souls of Ziri and Haxaya respectively, since Karou realizes that she needs to keep the appearance that Thiago is still leading them but can't bear to resurrect the actual Thiago, especially given what he was trying to do to her right before she killed him. At the end after Ziri dies yet again in his body during a battle no one besides a select few are even aware a switch occurred.
Enemy Mine: Even though the Misbegotten and the Chimaera rebels are enemies, at the end of Days of Blood and Starlight they pair up in order to take down the Dominion.
Et Tu, Brute?: Madrigal was sold out by her own adopted sister, Chiro, who followed her and then told Thiago what she was doing.
Evil Old Folks: Esther, Karou's pretend grandmother, who combines this with Immortality Immorality since she's used her wishes to artificially prolong her life to over 130 years. And when Zuzana accuses her of being someone who would have collaborated with the Nazis Esthr simply laughs and replies that of course she did.
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.
To a lesser extent with Revenants, since those who are "pure" and still have their original bodies are held in higher regard and in some cases deliberately kept away from combat.
Genetic Memory: Eliza had this from her ancestor Elazael, one of the original Fallen.
Hot Guys Are Bastards: Thiago, also an example of White Hair, Black Heart. Also interesting in that he originally looked like his father and brothers and had a deer's head, but after he died at least once had his body remade into its current form.
Icy Blue Eyes: Thiago has blue eyes, and Karou at one points notes that actual wolves don't tend to have this eye color, so it makes him more like a Siberian Husky than anything.
Improbable Age: Apparently, Karou started to study arts and live on her own at age 15. Oddly enough, so did Zuzana.
Killed Off for Real: Any character who is killed and has their soul evanesce before it can be put in a thurible, ruining the ability to resurrect them. Akiva and Liraz learn this the hard way when they manage to bring Hazael's body along for resurrection but didn't know that they needed his soul too.
Killer Rabbit: The Chimaera quickly nickname Zuzana "neek-neek" after a small but fierce creature native to Eretz.
Last Of Their Kind: Ziri is said to be the last Kirin in his natural flesh. Of course, he loses it.
Lecherous Licking: Karou is disgusted to realize that Razgut (who at this point is still invisible) is doing this to her in the first book. Later on it's revealed that Chimaera actually encourage this behavior by "sugaring" their bodies when they expect a romantic encounter.
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.
Massive Numbered Siblings: The Misbegotten are said to number over 3,000 in total, but only around 300 are alive by the time the story takes place. There have been enough of them that Akiva is the 7th to bear that name, since names are recycled with a new child getting the name of the last one who died.
Meaningful Name: Karou, whose name means “hope” in the tongue of the Chimaera.
Most chimaera are like this. For example, Madrigal Kirin has the upper body and face of a human, the legs of a gazelle, and bat wings.
Revenants bodies are pretty much literally mix and match, since they're constructed by stringing the teeth of various animals (including humans) into a necklace that becomes the template for their body.
No Sell: In Dreams Of Gods & Monsters Akiva figures out how to make himself and the other Misbegotten immune to the Hamsas, which also means he and Karou can touch each other without fear of her hurting him. Unfortunately they're interrupted before they can fully, er, take advantage of this.
Power at a Price: Karou is horrified to discover just what the real price of a wish is and why Brimstone always sent her for teeth. Mainly, pain. The Hamsas are directly powered by the pain of the Revenant's first (or later) deaths.
Akiva is similarly disturbed when he realizes the true price of him tapping into his until-then unknown magical powers. Mainly, weakening the very fabric of the universe.
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.
Red Right Hand: Jael's entire face is practically bisected by a huge scar running vertically down it, and it's mentioned that the sound of him eating is stomach-turning as a result of what it did to his lips. It's eventually revealed that he got the scar from Akiva's mother Festival, presumably when he attempted to rape her and eventually killed her.
Sealed Good in a Can: Potentially any Chimaera whose soul is in a thurible, since they can seemingly stay in there as long as necessary until they can be resurrected. Specific examples include Issa, Yasri and much of the populace of Loramendi in the underground cathedral.
Self Harm: "Tithing" is the way magic users get the power for their spells through inflicting pain on themselves, and Karou gets a set of vices she can use on her arms for this purpose. Less commonly another person's pain can be used instead, with either a willing or unwilling "donor".
Title Drop: Near the end, when it is explained how Madrigal reincarnated in the body of a child, Karou.
Villainous Incest: Jael makes it quite clear that despite her being his niece he would have no qualms about having sex with Liraz. Akiva and Hazael make a point to make sure she's never alone with him.
We Have Reserves: Joram's feelings towards the Misbegotten, since if they fall he can always just father more. The Chimaera subvert this, since much of their army has already died at least once and been resurrected, with them only managing to somewhat keep up their numbers thanks to Brimstone and later Karou, who laments at the unsustainability of the situation. By the time they go back to Eretz there are only 88 of them active.