Karou’s family is gone. The chimaera have been decimated. The city of Loramendi has fallen. The seraphim had learned the secret of the chimaera resurrection – that every lost solider’s soul was gleaned and returned to a new body by Brimstone – and with his death the angels were able to finally win the war for Eretz.
Lost in her grief, Karou meets up with Thiago, the son of the Warlord who commanded the chimaera troops. In her past life as Madrigal, which she now remembers, Thiago had her beheaded for falling in love with the enemy, the seraphim Akiva. With her memories returned, Karou now knows the secrets of resurrection that Brimstone taught her, and through her Thiago can get his army back, and attempt to tip the scales in their favour. Instead of recreating their bodies as was, he instructs her to make them larger and stronger, and all should have wings. Gentle souls are returned to monstrous bodies and sent on missions to kill seraphim civilians. As Karou learns more of Thiago’s plans, she tries to find ways to stop him, but the chimaera are loyal to him and he has her watched round the clock.
Meanwhile, Akiva believes Karou to be dead, and he heads back to his battalion of angels, and his brother and sister Hazael and Liraz. All begin to feel doubts as their orders are to wipe out chimaera civilians. Both Karou and Akiva think often of their time together, when she was Madrigal, and their dream of a different world, one of peace. They had hoped to begin it together. Instead they plan their rebellions separately, but a seraphim plot involving the human world brings them back together.
It’s hard to break down the plot to its barest elements because this is a big book. And yet it didn’t feel like it. I tore through it, staying up later than I should have to read it and irritated when I had to do other things. I still love Taylor’s writing. It easily sucks you in. There’s so much going on here that in a lesser writer’s hands it could go off the rails, and yet as a reader you feel completely safe in her hands. She’s got this. She brings in characters we’ve never met before to give us a feel for what is happening to the chimaera civilians as they are hunted by the seraphim. And even though we don’t spend a lot of time with them, we get to know them quickly and I was completely invested in their wellbeing. Taylor is also excellent at the mini cliffhanger at the end of each chapter, that makes you want to keep reading.
I think my only snag with it was Karou’s trust of Thiago for so long. I understand that she is lost and grieving and she’s clinging to anyone she knows, but still, he had her beheaded! He is so clearly not a good dude. Yet she does his bidding without much question. I felt like she’d be smarter than that. But that’s my only quibble in an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable book. And now I get to start the next one, since I headed out to the library straightaway after finishing and it was kindly waiting for me on the shelves. I really should have read these sooner.