I found this book charming almost immediately as I began reading it, the author painting a beautiful picture of Prague, with a smart, likable main character whose life is filled with fantastic creatures known as Chimaera. I wanted to know more about them from the start. I really got into this quickly, and it made it difficult for me to be productive.
I liked the way the story unfolded to start, revealing details a little at a time. I was less interested in the love story than I was in learning Brimstone's secrets. I really wanted to know about Karou's origins, and when I finally did, they were tragic and compelling.
I appreciate her friendship with Zuzana. Not just because it's nice seeing close friendships portrayed between females, but I also really appreciate when supporting characters have their own lives and own interests. Zuzana is her own person, who is supportive of Karou without serving the sole purpose of being a cheerleader for the main character.
Akiva, I'm less sure about. I generally disliked him at first, and even as he seemed to soften, I still wasn't really sure I could see him as much of a romantic figure, as a soldier who knows nothing but killing. How can a person as complex as Karou have anything in common with him? He's a tragic figure and more interesting than I initially gave him credit for as I was reading, at least.
I'm less thrilled with everybody being ridiculously beautiful. Akiva's widow's peak is mentioned several times in the book, and I don't think that is a feature I have ever paid attention to on another person before. I guess it's something the author likes, though! Anyway, the impossibly beautiful true love just is a trope that seems overdone. It's forgivable, though, because Akiva at least grew on me.
Still, the most interesting character in here to me was Brimstone. I really wanted to see so much more of him. Mostly I felt his presence was there in glimpses, and it was never enough for me.
The story, ultimately, was a sad one, which wasn't unexpected with the things that were hinted at. I enjoyed seeing the mystery unfold, and I look forward to seeing what happens next, although I'm also worried that book two might be even more unhappy, so I'm bracing myself.