Author: Karina Cooper
Genre: Steampunk Urban Fantasy
Series: The St. Croix Chronicles (Book 2)
Publication Date: December 26, 2012
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
ISBN-10: 0062127667 (Avon)
ISBN-13: 978-0062127662 (Avon)
Reviewed by: Shirene
In the gleaming heights of Victorian London, a world of deception awaits an unconventional Society lady whose taste for adventure makes her a most formidable adversary…
Though Society demands that I make a good marriage, I, Cherry St. Croix, have neither the time nor the interest. I am on the trail of a murder with no victim, a mystery with no motive, and the key to an alchemical formula that could be my family’s legacy.
Yet the world is not so kind as to let me pursue simple murder and uncomplicated bounties. Above the foggy drift, an earl insists on my attention, while my friends watch my increasingly desperate attempts to remain my own woman. From the silken demands of the Midnight Menagerie—to whose dangerously seductive ringmaster I owe a debt—to the rigorous pressures of the peerage, all are conspiring to place before me a choice that will forever change my life.
Quick & Dirty: Woman on a mission to discover more about her father and circumvent the rules and regulations of her place in society lives two lives. But will she charm you?
Opening Sentence: When I was ten years of age, Monsieur Marceaux’s Traveling Circus retained a new magician.
Normally I don’t look at reviews prior to reading a book but this cover art had me very concerned. I get that the publisher was trying to visually display to the book buying public that this book is more gritty than your run of the mill romance. The only thing that it served for this reader was to bump it down to the “Must Be Read” category rather than “I can’t wait to read it” category.
My intuition about this book unfortunately proved to be true despite the numerous glowing reviews I had read, I am in the camp that would be quite happy to never see another book from this series EVER.
This story took an enormous amount of time to develop. In fact it was so long that there were points I literally decided that this was going to be the first book since I started reviewing book in January that I would not finish. Many of you will not know this but there are only a handful of books that I have in all my life ever not finished. Some have taken a while to draw me back but I finish books. This one nearly ended up on the infamous never to be finished list.
Here is why besides the story being stuck in the fog, our heroine, Cherry St. Croix is a drug addict. This is the first female lead I have read that I wanted to reach into the book and strangle or would have been happy to see her get strangled by the two villains in this book. Her addiction to opium and laudanum are not unusual for the time but didn’t gel with the scientific side of her. What scientist fills themselves with so much pain medication that she is unable to think clearly? I know I can hear a few of you yelling about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, but neither of those stories have I been asked to review.
Furthermore, this story is as confused as our heroine is when she is taking her drug of choice. I was unsure more times that I would like to recall whether this story is set in Victorian times or a future where we have resorted to Victorian methods as a way to cope with the future.
The two men that star in Miss St. Croix’s story are too ephemeral to even warrant an entire paragraph for themselves. Both Lord Cornelius Kerrigan Compton and Micajah Hawke only serve as street lamps in this story, glimpsed but often lost in the fog of poor story telling. I’m still unsure about the exact relationship that Hawke and St. Croix had in the past, even after completing the book. While Lord Compton is the typical Victorian suitor, I struggle to see why he is so enamored with St. Croix other than her unwillingness to follow social guidelines.
I have struggled with giving a rating for this book, which is typically the easiest part of the review process, but this was tough. In the end, I even revisited what my initial reaction was but after careful thought and even re-reading this review, there is but one answer that I can give with complete honesty. And if you haven’t guessed by this stage — this is a do not buy from me.
My maid hurried to catch up with my sudden frenetic pace. “What do you hope to find?”
“Anything.” A clue. A sign that I was not the only body on this world who knew what went on in that tunnel. Perhaps a hint that the collector I hunted–the so-named sweet tooth Zylphia and her fellow sweets had hired me to collect–was still out there.
I knew he was. He left me flowers for every successful assassination he answered on the collection board.
He left them for me upon my windowsill, regardless of its height above the ground. Somehow, he knew who I was, and I only knew that he taunted me.
Yet, even as I considered it, it occurred to me that I had not seen flowers for near a fortnight now. Perhaps he’d injured himself on a bounty?
The St. Croix Chronicles:
0.5 The Mysterious Case of Mr. Strangeway (August 5, 2013)
3. Corroded (September 23, 2013)
FTC Advisory: Avon provided me with a copy of Gilded. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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