Karou is a blue-haired teenage art student who lives in Prague, running errands for Brimstone, a chimaera who is the closest thing to a father she has. She is capable of performing magic through wishes and is a skilled martial artist. As it turns out, Karou is the chimaera Madrigal resurrected into a human form. Now aware of her status as a revenant, her memories as Madrigal, and her name's meaning as the chimaera word for "hope", she takes up Brimstone's mantle as the resurrectionist of her people.
"Karou was, simply, lovely."
Karou is five foot six, but seems taller in the same way that ballerinas do, with a long neck and willowy limbs. She is slender with long legs with long bright azure hair - which grows blue naturally due to a wish - and large bird-black eyes.
She has many tattoos with the visible ones, "true" and "story", on her wrists, while the palms of her hands are marked with indigo-colored, eye-like hamsas - characteristic of revenant chimaera. She also has a tattoo of a serpent coiled around her ankle, along with other tattoos not mentioned. She used to have a tattoo with her ex-boyfriend Kazimir Andrasko's name right over her heart but she wished it away.
She typically dresses in jeans and sweaters or coats, and always wears boots, into which is hidden a small knife. In Morocco she wears a djellaba to blend in to the surroundings. Karou is described as being very beautiful and lovely. She is bright and radiant, like her face is alive.
Karou is initially introduced as a young girl with mostly normal teenage preoccupations like boys and clothes. She is shown to be humorous, and also curious and somewhat rebellious. She appears mysterious to many of her human friends, with her pockets containing curious things like ancient bronze coins, teeth, and tiny jade tigers. She never talked about herself and none of them knew of her background.
After her world is turned upside-down by her discovery of her life as Madrigal and the war-torn world whose reconstruction she will be instrumental in, she matures into a brave albeit bitter young woman who feels betrayed by her lover, Akiva. At the end of Days of Blood & Starlight, she is shown to be struggling to regain an optimistic view of the world despite her crushing experiences, and also trying to untangle her complex feelings for Akiva.
However, even before Karou understood her complicated background as a soldier and a chimera, she showed a great amount of compassion and sympathy, as when she questioned Akiva on his stance of chimera and what they should do with the land that is theirs, along with a guilt after Akiva explained to her about wishes and their consequences - pain.
Karou is an idealist, something that remains a part of her identity (and is even exacerbated) even when she begins to work in the Kasbah for Thiago, resurrecting chimera. She even had enough hope that Thiago would change his course and begin to work in her interest to uplift the chimera army from shame and slaughter, and is crestfallen when he remains bloodthirsty.
Her guilt for loving Akiva and being an "angel-lover" is prominent in Days of Blood and Starlight, but soon begins to wane the more this love is used against her, and begins to realize that it was Thiago, not her, that doomed Loramendi and all chimera by giving away their biggest secret and weapon.
Karou is also known to be vindictive as she once wished for Svetla's eyebrows to thicken like overgrown caterpillars that grew back when plucked, along with having wished for "itches" to torment her ex-boyfriend Kaz. She is also creative by managing to smuggle her two friends Zuzana Nováková and Mikolas Vavra away by teaching them invisibility when Thiago and Ten threaten to kill them.
Karou's true identity is Madrigal, the former lover of Akiva, though she does not know this at first. When Madrigal was executed, she managed to push her way to Chiro's body and later on, Brimstone managed to glean her soul and place it into the body of a human infant that he made himself. He also took her memories as Madrigal and placed them inside a wishbone.
That infant was taken to the human world so she could grow up and live in a peaceful world. She was raised by Brimstone, and has lived in his shop with Issa, Yasri, and Twiga for as long as she can remember in her human life.
Because of her upbringing, she was exposed to the concepts of magic and wishes at a young age. Over the years, she learned to magically alter her appearance and immediately become fluent in any language she desired through wishes. She spoke fluent Yoruba as she revealed when she was haggling for sunglasses with an African street vendor. But her first language had been the chimaeran language which she learned from birth.
She also speaks the seraphim language from wishing for it. She also became familiar with Brimstone's customers, including the Moroccan grave-robber named Izîl. Karou attended several schools throughout the world before ultimately settling down in Prague. She has had to fabricate names of false relatives at times.
Karou is a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague who is raised by chimaera: Brimstone, Issa, Twiga, Yasri and a pet, Kishmish. She knows little about the chimaera apart from Brimstone's shop and lives as a normal human girl with the exception of the times when she has to complete missions for Brimstone - which normally include extracting teeth from various parts of the world. Brimstone offers wishes of varying degrees to these humans in exchange for teeth. He, however, has no qualms about giving Karou small wishes such as the one which lets her hair naturally blue. Later, Karou would find out that the teeth are representatives of pain, which is the tithe required in exchange for magic, and that they allow chimaera soldiers to be resurrrected as revenants.
Karou is first seen to lead life with normal teenage preoccupations such as her ex-boyfriend and finding time to hang out with her best friend, Zuzana. One day, while she is on a mission for Brimstone, Karou encounters an angel, Akiva, who attacks her. She also notices scorched handprints on Brimstone's various portals all over the world, but has no chance to inform Brimstone of the phenomenon. As she lies semi-conscious from her injuries, she becomes aware of a never-before opportunity to explore Brimstone's workshop. Tired of secrets, she sneaks around to a forbidden door in Brimstone's workshop and encounters other revenants, one of whom is later revealed as Thiago, who tries to kill her.
Brimstone saves Karou, but in his rage and worry for her safety, he casts her out. Later, the portals are all burned and Karou cannot find her way back. To complicate matters, she re-encounters Akiva, for whom she has a mysteriously strong attraction to. After seeing her wishbone, he tells her that he knows who she is. They break the wishbone, and Karou's memories as her life as Madrigal, a chimaera soldier who was beheaded for falling in love with an angel, returns to her. She realizes that Akiva is her lover, but feels only fleeting joy as shortly after, Akiva confesses something devastating; he has killed her family - including Brimstone - and helped the angels win the war against the chimaera.
Karou has become far more somber, losing much of her light-hearted, humorous outlook in life. She is seen to be initially separated from her friend Zuzana and removed from her life as a normal art student in Prague as she takes up the burden of Brimstone's resurrection work. Despite her sacrifices, the chimaera do not trust her firstly because of her previous betrayal, but more than that, because Thiago has been secretly - and constantly - reminding them that she cannot be trusted.
Eventually, this is revealed to her by Ziri. Her life also takes a turn for the better when Zuzana and Mik come to find her, amusing the chimaera with their antics and lending her emotional support. She also has a brief, heated meeting with Akiva, wherein she attacks him with her hamsas but cannot bring herself to kill him, and he gives her a thurible with Issa's soul.
She also discovers that Thiago has been attacking not just seraphim soldiers but also killing their civilians, including innocent women and children. She tries to rally support from the others but is thwarted by Thiago, who then tries to rape her. She kills him, and with Ziri's insistence, puts Ziri's soul into his body.
Akiva later emerges, and tells them that Jael has released the seraphim soldiers disguised as holy angels to rally support from the humans and gain the advantage of their technologically advanced weapons. The rebel seraphim and the chimaera are forced to unite, and the rest remains to be seen.
Night of Cake & Puppets
Akiva is Karou's main love interest throughout the series. They have an intricate and complex relationship which began when Karou, as Madrigal, rescues him from certain death by winching a torniquet for his bleeding arm and leading her troops away from him. Akiva never forgets this deed and it fuels his motivation to learn the chimaera language and magic. He sneaks into the chimaera's holding and dances with Madrigal, whom Thiago lusts after, and reveals his identity. He shocks her but nonetheless ignites the start of their romance.
Both of them have an instant affinity with each other - physically and possibly spiritually, as Akiva manages to find Madrigal even when she is reborn as Karou, and Karou is able to "sense" Akiva's presence or absence.
The relationship is, however, complicated by the war, as Madrigal is a soldier for the chimaera and Akiva is a Misbegotten, one of the many bastards fathered by the seraph emperor to be trained as tools for war from a tender age of five. They are lovers trapped at the opposite sides of war, but being madly in love, they dream of a world of peace, where angels and chimaera live together with harmony. The two meet at Ellai's temple every night to spend time with each other.
Just when they are plotting to kill the war leaders to set their vision in motion, they are captured by the chimaera, and it is later revealed that Chiro, Madrigal's sister, had betrayed her to gain Thiago's approval.
Akiva is tortured, and made to watch as Madrigal is beheaded and evanesced - or so he thought. In actuality, Madrigal's soul had, under Brimstone's instruction, slipped into Chiro's body and taken possession of it. With Chiro's body, she frees Akiva, who is mad with grief, and makes plans to avenge her.
Having gleaned the chimaera's secret of resurrection from Thiago during his torture, he is instrumental in helping the angels win the war and resulting in the deaths of thousands of chimaera, including Brimstone and Thiago's father, the then-Warlord. He earns the titles "Beast's Bane" and "Prince Bastard," and a newfound respect among the angels.
Having been hardened by his devastation of losing Madrigal, he reverts into his former self - a cold, killing machine - until he found Karou and her wishbone, and realizes that Madrigal is still alive in her, and more significantly, that he has indirectly killed her whole family.
When they break the wishbone and Karou learns the truth, she refuses to have anything to do with Akiva. In Days of Blood and Starlight, their romance is scarce. Akiva tries to atone for his mistake by saving civilian chimaera, rescuing Ziri, returning Issa's soul and even killing Joram, but nothing seems enough to compensate for the horror of her lost family. Karou still harbours feelings for Akiva, but feels ashamed and guilty by it, especially around other chimaera, led by Thiago, who constantly reminds her of her status as a traitor.
They reach a truce when the angels, led by Jael, who has gleaned information of powerful human weapons from Razgut, enter the human world to try and gain their support. The rebel angels and the chimaera soldiers unite reluctantly, with Akiva and Karou now on the same team.
Zuzana is Karou's best friend. They have known each other ever since Karou moved to Prague. She represents Karou's normal, human life and in Days of Blood and Starlight Zuzana doesn't give up until she finds her friend.
Brimstone is practically Karou's father. He is a chimaera, as Karou once was, and has raised her since her resurrection. He cares for her particularly because of all she had gone through as Madrigal. As Karou visits him more, he slowly becomes more agitated and when Karou messes up, Brimstone throws her out and doesn't attempt to make any form of contact. When Kishmish, a messenger bird of Brimstones, crashes into her flat and burns to death, with only a mysterious singed note, and a necklace he had always worn, a stringed wish bone, She goes to find him and discovers the entrance to his world burned down. She could only assume that he had died, and Karou, whose name in Chimaera means hope, became completely hopeless.
Karou is known to have been in a relationship with Kazimir before they broke up. He had used her and lied to her. Once the two separated, he constantly attempted to scare her everyday, doing nothing but aggravating her. Throughout the rest of the story, he continues to act as if he cared, though he see's her no longer. He talks to reporters and lies to them, seeing that Karou still had use.
Kazimir, mostly referred to a 'Kaz', is a supposedly handsome man with bad acting skills and a knack for being a shallow and inconsiderate. He does nothing unless it somehow benefits himself, and is as good as a sworn enemy when it comes to Karou and her best friend, Zuzana
Though she doesn't have her chimaera aspects, Madrigal's soul is in Karou's body. Therefore, Karou and Madrigal are technically one and the same.
- "Karou was five foot six but seemed taller in the same way that ballerinas do, with their long necks and willowy limbs." "Creamy and leggy, with long azure hair and the eyes of a silent-movie star, she moved like a poem and smiled like a sphinx. Beyond merely pretty, her face was vibrantly alive, her gaze always luminous, and she had a birdlike way of cocking her head, her lips pressed together while her dark eyes danced, that hinted at secrets an mysteries."
- "I work. What do you think I live on, rainwater and daydreams?"
- "You know they roast guinea pigs in Peru, skewered on little sticks, like marshmallows?"
- "Yearning for love made her feel like a cat that was always twining around ankles, meowing Pet me, pet me, look at me, love me."
- “A dream dirty and bruised is better than no dream at all.”
- "Dead souls dream only of death, small dreams for small men. It is life that expands to fill worlds. Life is your master, or death is."
- "Perhaps Fate laid out your life out for you like a dress, and you could wear it or go naked"