The story follows Karou, a blue haired art student in Prague, who leads a sort of double life. All of her sketchbooks are filled with creatures made up of different animals. When her fellow students look at the creatures Karou tells fantastical stories about these creatures. It is almost like she thinks that these creatures, or Chimera, are real. What Karou’s friends don’t know is that these Chimera actually do exist. Karou visits these creatures via a door when opened from the inside leads to another world where the Chimera live. Ironically enough the Chimera also enjoy Karou’s sketches and stories of the humans. When Karou enters into this world she is surrounded by the creatures that raised her.
There is Issa, who was serpent from the waist down, woman from the waist up and a hood and fangs of a cobra and beautiful face. Then there was Yasri, parrot-beaked but with human eyes and orange curls. Then there is the creature that she thinks of as a father figure, Brimstone. Brimstone deals in wishes, and who Karou sometimes refers to as the Wishmonger. Brimstone has the arms and torso of a human but it is covered in a hide instead of skin. He has the legs of a lion but the feet of a raptor. The most engaging part of Brimstone is his head is part of a ram, including its horns, but covered in hide which changed to scales around his nose; this is all set off by his reptile eyes.
While the creatures that inhabit this world are fantastical, there is another special quality to these rooms that they inhabit. It is in fact a portal to cities all over the world. Daily men and women would visit Brimstone and bring him teeth of all kinds of animals, including in some cases human teeth. They in turn get paid in wishes. Karou will also go out to do errands for Brimstone, exiting the same door she came in but now she may find herself in Paris, New York, or Marrakesh. While she is doing errands for Brimstone she starts to notice that the imprint of a hand has been burned into all of the portal doors. It is here in Marrakesh that she has a fight with a man, who turns out to be an angel. She gets away, but Akiva the angel feels compelled to find her. From the moment that Akiva enters the story you know that there will be a romance between, him and Karou.
This is quite an enjoyable read, but I did have to remind myself at times that it is intended for a young adult audience. There was a part of the plot that I had a problem with, I don’t want to give too much away so I won’t get into the specifics, but the more I thought about it the more it bothered me. But without this crucial plot point we could not have the conflict that is needed for the end of the book. This is the start of a trilogy so it will be exciting to see where the story will take us. ~Sarah