Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
How much fantasy fits into your standard formula. Good guys – look good and feel better. Baddies – look foul and feel worse. Book 1 introduce the characters, book two move them around and set up the battle lines, book 3 – the final battle and the resolution. Well you can forget all that as soon as you open this little treasure.
First the protagonist is a 17 year art student, trying to live a normal life in Prague. But every now and then she is sent on an errand by her ‘foster parent’ Brimstone. She is sent all over the world to collect, of all things – teeth. All kinds of teeth and tusks, from thieves, murderers, and hunters. Once they are delivered to Brimstone she is free to return to her ‘normal’ world. Elsewhere – Brimstone’s world – is populated by all kinds of creatures that most humans would consider monsters, partially human bodies with animal elements. Imagine a minotaur or a sphinx in real life and able to talk!
Enter Akiva – apparently an angel. Able to walk among humans by hiding his wings with a magical glamour. Naturally Karou falls in love, but something just doesn’t seem quite right. A sixth sense warns her to keep him secret and separate from Elsewhere. Then there is this vague memory that seems to be from a previous life, still in love with Akiva, but tragedy was the result. Just who was Madrigal?
This is a very readable book, and a very satisfying read all on it’s own. Very unusual for a fantasy. The fantasy world and access to it is limited, mostly this is a book about an art student and her friends, but strange things keep interrupting her ‘normal’ life. But I will warn you, once you hit the final chapters you definitely want book 2 on hand. The climax is amazing.