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Review: Tarnished by Karina Cooper

Tarnished by Karina Cooper (The St.Croix Chronicles #1)

Egalley thanks to Avon

Synopsis from Goodreads
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.

Amazon  US/UK | Amazon kindle US ($4.99)/UK(£3.99!) | The Book Depository US/UK | Fishpond


* * *
 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.

* * *
Обалденная стимпанковская книга, которая на пару с Ловцом Воров оказалась для меня лучшей художественной литературой, прочитанной в этом месяце.

Сильный изобразительный стиль, жёсткий чёрно-белый мир, в котором Черри Ст.Круа ведёт двойную жизнь. 

Днём она - юная аристократка, дочь "Сумасшедшего Учёного", который поднял Лондон высшего общества в небо, чтобы спасти его от ядовитого смога бедных районов. Странные железные конструкции поддерживают аристократические особняки за облаками наподобие воздушной Венеции с мостами и воздушными гондолами. У Черри репутация богатого экцентрика и синего чулка, которого её компаньонка и опекун заставляют подчиняться законам общества и выходить в свет.

Ночами, Черри - Мисс Блэк, одетая в чёрное, ловкий коллектор воров и должников, работающая в Лондоне бедных районов, чтобы содержать свою опиумную зависимость, которую она скрывает от своего опекуна и компаньонки.

Когда подруги-проститутки нанимают её, чтобы остановить жестокого убийцу, разделывающего тела их коллег, Черри не только натыкается на неожиданный призрак из своего прошлого, находит сильнейший магический наркотик, ослабляющий связь между телом и душой, чтобы в тело мог вселиться чужой дух, но она к тому же привлекает внимание криминального конгломерата китайской мафии Лондона -  "Каракашской Вуали" и оказывается у них в долгу...

В общем-то, шикарная книга, которая сильно мне напомнила любимую мною серию Стасии Кэйн. Здесь много секретов и интриг и чрезвычайно увлекательный и откровенный авторский стиль. Единственный недостаток книги - она обрывается очень внезапно и оставляет все проблемы неразрешёнными, но я всё же её чрезвычайно рекомендую. Пошла-ка я искать что ещё написала Карина Купер, так как её стиль мне пришёлся по душе.

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