In this emotionally intense if loosely woven sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011), Taylor puts Karou, a chimaera resurrected into the body of a blue-haired human teenager, through severe tests of both heart and soul.
Sundered from her seraphic lover Akiva by rage, guilt and a huge blood debt, Karou has led charismatic chimaera leader Thiago, the White Wolf, to a refuge in the Atlas Mountains. With her magical skills, she provides him with a band of reanimated warriors to protect the remaining chimaera back in the world of Eretz. But Thiago is more bent on vengeance—even at the cost of seeing his people exterminated in reprisals. On Eretz, Akiva is driven by abhorrence of the general slaughter to plot an attempt on his cruel emperor’s life. And meanwhile on Earth, to no evident purpose beyond comic relief (“What?…I was starving and our hostess was passed out on the bed with a hot monster boy”), Karou’s street-performer friends Zuzana and Mik show up suddenly, having tracked her to North Africa. Ultimately violent events, revelations and no few contrivances drive both the war and the central romance (“As ever when their eyes meet, it is like a lit fuse searing a path through the air between them”) into new phases.
Mostly about licking wounds in the wake of the opener’s savage inner and outer conflicts, but well-endowed with memorable characters and turns of phrase. (Fantasy. 14 & up)