By Delilah S. Dawson
Editions: ebook, paperback
Published March 27th 2012 by Pocket
Genre: Adult Paranormal / Steampunk / Romance
Source: own copy
When Tish Everett forces open the ruby locket she finds at an estate sale, she has no idea that a deliciously rakish Bludman has cast a spell just for her. She wakes up in a surreal world, where Criminy Stain, the dashing proprietor of a magical traveling circus, curiously awaits. At Criminy’s electric touch, Tish glimpses a tantalizing future, but she also foresees her ultimate doom. Before she can decide whether to risk her fate with the charming daredevil, the locket disappears, and with it, her only chance to return home. Tish and Criminy battle roaring sea monsters and thundering bludmares, vengeful ghosts and crooked Coppers in a treacherous race to recover the necklace from the evil Blud-hating Magistrate. But if they succeed, will Tish forsake her fanged suitor and return to her normal life, or will she take a chance on an unpredictable but dangerous destiny with the Bludman she’s coming to love?
~ Goodreads Blurb
First thing that really impacted was the world building. If you’re very into vampires like I am, and have been that way ever since Anne’s Rice vampires like 15 years ago, the traditional vampire lover scenario might tend to get not boring, but not quite as exciting as it used to be. So when authors think up these nifty new versions of worlds and creatures, all that love can get a new breath of excitement and that curiosity and joy of discovery these stories gave you to begin with. So when I started reading this book, I won’t lie, I had high expectations for these bludmen and their world – I wasn’t disappointed.
Sang is a sort of romantic (in the literary sense of the word) world, technology and occultism coexisting in this beautifully steampunkerish paranormal beauty. Nature versus man, missing what one might call the ‘glorious past’, quirky gypsy king, fantastic world of a dystopian hue – yep, it’s all there.
So to make my rave short, the world building in this exciting new series is simply put, fabulous.
Tish was a beautiful character to read, she came into the story not as some action-figure lunatic but as a real person, with a past that motivated her present and marked her for her future. It’s obvious I like a character with baggage, and I like to know it before I get pulled in the right now thing, you know what I mean? It simply makes no sense to me if you’re telling me what happens now and then in the middle of the book you drop this cryptic little line that’s the real motivation behind what I’ve been reading for two hours. I know this is against the action-craze current going on, but I’m not an action movie lover at my core, I’m a literature lover, you know? I can’t truly feel, know and appreciate a character that is introduced to me without a past. So Tish came with the short, clear and perfectly relevant baggage that I knew of and she made sense to me in those sorts of situations where I might have otherwise gone “Pffft!”.
Criminy (beyond awesome name, it still haunts my thoughts two days after reading the book) was this really quirky, fun, bold sort of polite creature that I was fascinated by. He had this gentlemanly air about him, sophisticated and original, super charismatic and fun. He was awesome to read about too, all charming and sort of possessive but restrained. Yummy.
They had great chemistry, but there was an emotional connection going on, vulnerability and mending broken hearts or opening up lonely ones, their romance flowed beautifully for me and though there were sparks and some hot moments I’d say the overall feel of it was emotional connection and not smutty galore (which I totally enjoy as well, to be clear!). It’s not insta-love but it is insta-attraction, which again makes sense and reads beautifully.
The plot outside the relationship arc was active, but not overly so. Ironically, I found myself wishing for a tinsy bit more something in there, maybe a stronger villain, more of the coppers or bludanimals attacks, I don’t know, a tinsy bit more something. There was a lot of activity going on, and trials and obstacles and such, but the adventure would have felt purrfect if there’d been something of a stronger antagonist, I think. As it was, it kept my interest but I wasn’t riveted, more like intrigued by other elements and went on with this one too. Stronger adversity would have made this into the perfect novel for me.
I loved the writing, the imagery and personal voices of characters, the effortless charm both the world and characters exuded. Everything was built beautifully and it translated into clear images in my mind with ease. Action scenes were engaging, and enough humor went to dissolve or emphasize tension, I always enjoy characters with a healthy sense of humor.
The first person narrative was, as always, a pleasure to read, and it helped me empathize with Tish all the more.
Curb appeal is off the chart, gorgeous cover that speaks to the nature of the world you’ll be invited into, all the original world building beautifully emphasized by the blurb. Yes, it was a compulsive buy 😀
All in all, this was an engaging, original, lovely read, with all the right elements to make a fan out of me. This is certainly a series I will follow and read with great pleasure, in fact I can’t wait for more!
Do you like romance stories that lean more into fairy tale or the ones more like contemporary action?