I don’t usually read steampunk. It’s not that I dislike the genre, but I’m still kind of new to it. Reading the blurb on this book, I found myself intrigued. Cherry St. Croix leads something of a double life. By day, she moves among London society, while by night, she enters the the soot-filled underbelly of the city to work as a bounty hunter.
What the blurb doesn’t tell you is that Cherry is an opium addict. That her employers run a sick Menagerie… a den of iniquity, powered by slave-like pets. Cherry takes gigs to pay for her drug habit, but operates on the fringe of the Menagerie –until she is hired to find a sadistic killer who has been targeting the prostitutes who work for her employers. Soon the hunter becomes the hunted and Cherry gets wrapped up an ordeal of even more powerful drugs, threats to her life, and sexual situations beyond her control.
All this, as her life in society is shaken up as well. She is barely tolerated by the upper-crust because of her late father’s reputation as a mad scientist. While putting on a brave face to the sharks of the ton, she ends up in an unlikely sort-of relationship with the handsome Lord Compton. I really thought these two might make a go of it. Then I thought maybe she’d end up with Hawke, her mysterious boss at the Menagerie. Then everything went crazy and all the relationship stuff got shoved aside in place of outlandish experiments and near death experiences.
I was intrigued by the world building. The upper and lower London set-up was really cool. But I felt like there was too much going on. Especially in the second half, when it seemed to drop off the deep end a little. It all started out pretty straightforward, but when the story started dipping into magic dust and Frankenstein themes, it started to lose me.
I actually liked one of the two love interests more than the other, but I think she’s going to end up with the other guy. Either way, it was left very unresolved, which is a blow to my romance-oriented heart. In fact, when all was said and done, just about everything was left open ended. It’s one of those stories that doesn’t get finished in one book –and you should know that going in.
I have mixed feelings about this one. The set-up was good, but the more I read, the less I felt like it was the right fit for me.
*ARC Provided by Avon
Tarnishedby Karina CooperRelease Date: June 26, 2012Publisher: Avon