Tuesday, October 16, 2012

[Archive] LITERAL ADDICTION's Review of Tarnished

Karina Cooper: After writing happily ever afters for all of her friends in school, Karina Cooper eventually grew up (she got taller, anyway) and delightedly learned it counts as A Real Job. Not one for half-measures, she broke into the scene with her gritty Dark Mission series and introduced a new world that RT Book Reviews calls “an electrifying start”.

One part glamor, one part dork and all imagination, she writes dark and sexy paranormal romance and historical urban fantasy. When she isn’t writing, Karina is an airship captain’s wife and Steampunk fashionista. She lives in the beautiful, moss-ridden Pacific Northwest with a husband, four cats, two rabbits, the fantasy of a dog and a passel of adopted gamer geeks.

Tarnished, book #1 of the St. Croix Chronicles
Author:  Karina Cooper


My name is Cherry St. Croix. Society would claim that I am a well-heeled miss with an unfortunate familial reputation. They've no idea of the truth of it. In my secret world, I hunt down vagrants, thieves . . . and now, a murderer. For a monster stalks London's streets, leaving a trail of mystery and murder below the fog.

Eager for coin to fuel my infatuations, I must decide where my attentions will turn: to my daylight world, where my scientific mind sets me apart from respectable Society, or to the compelling domain of London below. Each has a man who has claimed my time as his--for good or for ill. Though as the corpses pile, and the treacherous waters of Society gossip churn, I am learning that each also has its dangers. One choice will see me cast from polite company . . . the other might just see me dead.

Our Review, by LITERAL ADDICTION’s Pack Alpha – Michelle L. Olson:

I really enjoyed the first installment of Karina’s new ST CROIX CHRONICLES. My exact, though somewhat uncouth, words upon completion of the book were: “Holy dark & twisted Steampunky Franknsteinesque urban fantasy. I like it!!” :)

Steampunk is a delicate blend of Victorian and Industry – think corsets and bustles meet gears, steam engines, and airship pirates. In Tarnished, London is split into two distinct worlds following a sort of pollution apocalypse. There’s the lower London, where smog is literally cloying and thievery and darkness abound, and the upper London where the well-to-doers reside, pretending that life ‘below’ never happened. Our heroine, Cherry, lives in both worlds but fits wholly in neither. 

As the daughter of a scientist whom people thought mad, she’s quite evolved for a Victorian age woman, and yet never fully accepted by society. She loves science and debate, and feels utterly at home with a good reference book or periodical – all of the things that a high born female should not engage in. Her every action is scrutinized by the rest of the upper London elite, and therefore, Cherry finds it necessary to live a dual life. When she’s not posing for the rest of the upper London society, she dresses up as a boy and works as a bounty hunter and assassin in lower London while trying to find creative ways to keep herself functioning after an awful childhood left her with an opium addiction that she’s unable to shake.

The heart of Tarnished revolves around Cherry’s quest to find and apprehend the madman whom killed some of her lower London ladies of the night acquaintances, while trying to keep up her dual personalities and have somewhat of a normal love life. 

She is torn between a highborn lad from the Compton family who comes to court her, and her pseudo boss and ‘Sir of the Night’ if you will, the dark and mysterious Micajah Hawke – ruler of the Midnight Menagerie. Like Cherry herself, the two sides of her love life battle between dark and light, upper and lower, proper and scandalous. 

As I touched on in my initial comments regarding the book, the murder mystery that Cherry investigates has a lovely Frankensteinesque quality about it and I found myself utterly intrigued. 

Tarnished is a compelling tale of myth and reality and covers all the grey ground between light and dark. It was a book I’m not likely to forget any time soon, and I’m excited to see where Karina takes us next with the series.

LITERAL ADDICTION gives Tarnished 4 Skulls. 


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