Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review: Tarnished ~ by Karina Cooper


It’s release day for Tarnished (The St. Croix Chronicles) ~ by Karina Cooper!  And we have a review by Shellie for the book.

It’s a page-turning, action-packed steampunk murder mystery with even steamier romantic elements. It has a feisty lead character so it’s a perfect read for the fans of Gail Carriger – only it’s a bit darker.

About:  Petite and feisty redheaded Cherry St. Croix is a bit tarnished. Orphaned at an early age, she is from an upper class family and lives comfortably with a variety of servants in her estate home - albeit as a ward to a never-present male benefactor, since women from this alternative Victorian period cannot own and are considered property. Darker still is that she is addicted to laudanum or opium depending on which is closer at hand; and she is a collector – a hired bounty woman who tracks down the wanted.

As she travels the polluted and sooty underworld of this different sort of London, she is asked to “collect’ a “ripper” who is killing local “sweets” (the most beautiful and desirable prostitutes) and taking their body parts for goodness knows what. It’s in the process of finding this insidious killer that she discovers darker things about her past; and sidesteps two romantic entanglements.

Thoughts:  I really liked Cherry, the intelligent, tainted and strong main character who denies the existence of magic and only believes in science. It was also appealing that she is adamant about not wanting to get married, contrary to proper behavior for the time.

Although I really dislike comparing newer novels to wildly popular ones, I would say that this historical-ish novel felt quite similar to Gail Carriger’s Soulless, which I really enjoyed - although Tarnished is darker, less humorous, and has a more realistic setting than Carriger’s books. But like Soulless it includes science and gadgets, along with Victorian fashion and propriety, so it’s a genre-blender mystery story like Soulless.

My only niggle was that I had a slight problem getting into the author’s writing style at first. But I found it became easier after several chapters. And once I did I was completely hooked. I also want to mention that this first book is a cliff hanger, but what better way of starting off a series since it definitely created a desire to read the next in the series, even if I now have to wait.

Highly recommended for those interested in steampunk, historical romance, urban fantasy, murder mysteries, and especially for those who like strong female leads. It’s a 3.5 star read for me. I can’t wait for the second in the series.

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages; Avon; June 26, 2012.

For more about Karina Cooper author of Tarnished, visit her website: http://www.karinacooper.com/

Thanks for reading.


Blodeuedd said...

I do like steampunk :D

Unknown said...

Blodeuedd -
Me too and this one has a strong lead, another favorite.

Will be curious what you think!

Simcha said...

I've been curious about this book. From your description it sounds a lot like a book I read earlier in the year, The Straight Razor Cure, though with a female protagonist. I have a hard time imagining that I would enjoy a book featuring a drug-addicted heroine but I'd like to give it a try to find out.

Unknown said...

Simcha -
John read the Straight Razor Cure but I think that it is called Low Town here in the states. I am not sure they are similar... perhaps with some elements of the plot.

This book is a romance, and the main character is VERY strong, and in her drug addiction she is, shall we say, "functioning" and not a "train wreck". She needs it to sleep and to forget her past (which is interestingly complex). If you like those elements and steam punk then you will probably like the series.

At any rate I will be curious as to what you think if you do decide to read it.

Actually I almost abandoned it, but I am SO glad I didn't. I really enjoyed it and wish I could read the rest of the series now.

ediFanoB said...

I like steampunk a lot BUT romance ....

Thereofre the question for me is how much romance is in the book? Is it dominated by romance?

Unknown said...

Edi -
Not too much... there is no happily ever after.

A question:
Did you like Gail Carriger's steampunk books?

If yes then you would like this.

I know you like Eddie La Cross..... he's dark and twisted in a good sort or way so you may enjoy this Cherry character.

It really is a kind of a girly book maybe your wife would enjoy it?

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