Karou has always had a double life. She spends her days as a high school art student in Prague, and the rest of her time in a dusty old shop where she makes her home among with the only family that she has ever known, the chimera, creatures with a mixture of human and animal features and body parts. Her friends think her strange drawings and stories are the result of an active imagination and clever mind, and not from a world that exists alongside their own. However, when the handprints of fire start mysteriously appearing in select doorways, the separation between the two worlds starts to fade, and Karou finds that the key to her identity, which has always haunted her, will be the very thing that could save or destroy all that she holds dear.
Laini Taylor sure knows how to start a series off with a bang. Karou is the heroine girls dream of being, beautiful but with her own distinct style – and she’s smart and loyal to boot. Karou has to manage the expectations of a caring friend who sticks by her in spite of her mysterious disappearances, and her feelings for a formidable foe, Akiva, a handsome winged stranger whose intentions she can never really trust. Plenty of action, adventure and a hint of romance sets this book up with a dramatic ending, and leaves the reader with a crushing sense of anticipation for the next leg of the story. Of course, first in a trilogy. Highly recommended.