Kara-karina's Reviews > Tarnished

Tarnished by Karina Cooper
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Dec 09, 12

Read from June 12 to 13, 2012

Tarnished is a delicious appetiser which left me hungry for more. It introduces you to dark, gritty and very visual steampunk London where Cherry St. Croix leads a double life.

During days she is up above the black smog of London among the strange cluster of mansions for rich and privileged, bridges and air gondolas, designed by her father and lifted above the city to escape the contaminated air. During days she is Cherry St.Croix, an unconventional daughter of a mad scientist, forced to behave according to high society standards otherwise her guardian will stop her allowance and her scientific experiments.

At nights, Cherry is a different person. Ms. Black is a collector (as in bounty hunter) in the blackest areas of London, fitted into a black garb with armoured corset, respirator and night vision goggles, she hunts the streets for thieves and those unfortunate indebted to Chinese mafia of Karakash Veil and their dangerous and seductive representative Micajah Hawke. She is a flawed heroine who is driven by her opium addiction acquired as a child, when she grew up as an acrobat in a street circus before her guardian found her.

Cherry and her gritty harsh world undeniably reminded me of the series I adore - Downside Ghosts by Stacia Kane. She is trapped in a vicious circle of nightmares and addiction just like Chess is trapped. She might not be poor but she is surrounded by secrets. Her guardian has one, deliciously sinful Hawke has several, and even her powerful aristocratic admirer, Lord Compton hides something.

Cherry manages to stay under a radar of London crime lords until few prostitutes approach her asking to find and stop a mad killer who is butchering their friends. She starts the investigation and in the process finds unexpected links to her past, a powerful magical solution which weakens the link between body and soul, so the body can be possessed, and the most dangerous of all, - she gets indebted to Karakash Veil...

I won't give anything else away, but this an exciting, exhilarating read, with an albeit abrupt ending, and I highly recommend it not only to the fans of steampunk, but to anyone who loves Stacia Kane. I, for one, am determined to find Ms. Cooper's backlist and start reading it.
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