Corroded by Karina Cooper (No.3 of the St Croix Chronicles)

Just finished reading Corroded by Karina Cooper – and, what just happened!  Okay, first things first – this review may contain spoilers so I advise not to read if you’re at the start of the series.  I’m being serious – do not continue…

At the end of the last book Cherry has lost, quite literally, everything – now, didn’t I tell you not to read on if you didn’t want spoilers!!  She now lives in London below – and for those of you who are still reading without the benefit of knowledge from the first two books (which, btw why?) – London below is now covered in smog – only the poorest people live there and consequently London Below is rife with crime and debauchery.  London above – is where the upper classes live – raised on some high fanangled hydraulics it sits above the smog and filth.  Home to the upper echelons – who lets face it – are not adverse to the idea of paying the odd visit to their inferiors.  Quite literally the lower classes are really the lower classes.  A world of technology filled with steampunk gadgets and gondolas and other forms of flying transport that convey people from one deck to the next.  

At the start of the story Cherry is in a world of hurt, regret and guilt.  Her husband, murdered on the night of their marriage, all her goods possessed by his family, her home is now the menagerie where Mr Hawke stalks.  She lives there under duress – both from herself and the Veil.  Cherry is a collector – which is basically similar to a bounty hunter – however her game is massively off at the start of the book.  She’s also something of an opium addict (which helps to quell the nightmares that she experiences from her early childhood experiences) and her addiction has unfortunately, fuelled by anger and remorse, become worse.

I won’t deny that the start of this book is quite difficult.  Cherry has sunk low and to a certain extent is on borrowed time in terms of the menagerie.  You could be forgiven for wondering why she calls herself a collector at this point as her abilities to capture seem to have become almost redundant in her chase for the bliss of opium.  Yes, it’s a difficult read – made even more so by the fact that not just the Ripper but a far more lethal killer stalks London’s streets and not only does he seem to follow, nay, stalk Cherry, but he seems to believe that they are both involved in some sort of duel.

It’s a very dangerous game that Cherry is now involved with – everyone she knows is in danger just by befriending her and she has to harden her heart against those who she loves.

So, okay, yes, there’s quite a bit of grim going on here but you have to hang on in there.  Things turn around and to a certain extent Cherry makes amends.

Now, – what the hell just happened with Hawke – I can’t say more which I realise is a big teaser.  Hawke is basically the man candy of this novel – and I’m just going to chuck it out there and say that things get a bit steamy – and, then, they get totally wtf!

OMG – the sweettooth!  Didn’t see that coming at all.  And, what the holy hell with the rest of the ending!!!

Well, let’s just say.  Yes, this feels like a totally indulgent read but, it’s a VERY good indulgent read and Ms Cooper has a knack of making you want, nay have, to pick up the next book.  Next step – one click!

To recap, steampunk, Victorian London, High class society, slums, serial killers, magic and, well, ahem, other things!

What I love about this is the fact that it feels like a great book to read in between your epic chunksters – and I mean that in the most positive way possible.

Fan Art Up – shifters and snifters

Posted On 21 August 2014

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Fan Art Up is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha at Not Yet Read.  Details here.  Stop over and check out the other’s taking part. Each week I see if I have a book doodle or just a random doodle to  place here.  This week I confess my reading has been poor!  I finished The Godless and started Corroded (Book No.3 in the St Croix Chronicles by Karina Cooper).  Difficult to come up with something for these so I’ve got two very quick (and rough) sketches – one is what I’m planning on spending time doing tonight – the other links with The Fantasy Review Barn’s theme for Tough Travel this week.  Hopefully you can figure which is which!

 

photo 2-6photo 1-9

 

‘I’ve got you, under my skin….’ tough travel

Posted On 21 August 2014

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This Thursday Nathan of the Fantasy Review Barn is taking us travelling once again through the tropes of fantasy.  The theme this week is:

‘SHAPESHIFTING is frequent among both WERES and MAGIC USERS. The usual form taken is that of a WOLF, but lions, eagles, serpents, owls, and cats are common too. In all cases the rule is that the shapeshifter cannon stay too long in animal form without actually becoming that animal.’

  1. The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.  This is an incredibly entertaining series.  The main characters being Atticus and his dog Oberon.  There’s a little bit of everything in this series and it’s all written with a great sense of humour that make it easy and quick to read.  I’m choosing Atticus for this as he is able to shapeshift into a bird or a dog.
  2. Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier – an interesting take on the werewolf theme involving magic (that can only be used by ‘pures’.  The shapeshifters in the story are more like very large dogs than wolves.  The world they inhabit is unknown to most humans.  Vampires have been destroyed and there are few original Weres left.  The ethos here is different as the moon is not the significant ‘changing’ factor.  The people who shapeshift are constantly struggling between their human and inner beast with emotions usually dictating who the winner will be.  I quite liked this and I’m interested to see where it goes next although I did have a few issues  – the age of the young girl being one bone of contention for me.
  3. Firelight by Sophie Jordan – now, I liked this but I didn’t love it but I had to include it this week (this comes from my ‘mainly reading YA years’) – the book is based on an unknown race of people known as Draki – who basically can shift into dragons.  I love the concept.  DRAGONS!  However, I did have issues with this book.  I struggled with the whole physics of the thing but more than than there is the inevitable love triangle!  I think this is probably one of the main reasons why I now avoid books with romance!
  4. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce – A fairytale retelling based on Little Red Riding Hood.  Another YA (lets just face it – vampires and shapeshifters became only too popular after a certainly spangly bloodsucker hit the shelves!).  I did like this one though.  I like retold fairy tales and this one has some really gross, nasty, smelly and vicious wolves – known as fenris – who attract innocent young girls with their handsome exteriors, until they change into monsters!
  5. The Last Werefolf by Glen Duncan – Jake Marlowe – is he the last werewolf?? Maybe.  He kicks off the story with a large dose of depression – as only being the last in your species can inspire!  I had mixed feelings for this book I must confess.  I think i was probably harsher on it than it deserved but I wasn’t overly keen on Jake.  Part of me wanted to really like it and part of me just didn’t.  On reflection I think that a few of the bigger problems I had were supposed to be a reflection of Jake’s nature – so one minute fairly lucid and well spoken, the next a sex driven beast who must go in search of victims.  It’s definitely a dark and bloody read.
  6. Patricia Briggs Mercedes series – I had to go there!  I’m trying to find different weres and Mercedes becomes a Coyote after all.  This is a really good dark fantasy series that I really enjoy.
  7. The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger – Victorian steampunk with dirigibles, parasols with gadgets, vampires and werewolves.  Very funny and well told tales following Alexia – who has the strange ability to reverse (temporarily by using touch only) magic and supernatural abilities – which is sometimes inconvenient given that the main man of the story (and love interest) is a shapeshifting werewolf.

Honourable mentions:

Harry Potter – Sirius – becomes a large black dog,  It’s become a ‘thing’ – I have to mention either HP or LoTR every week!

You simply must read this…I insist

Posted On 19 August 2014

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b2bf5-toptentuesday2Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and Bookish where every week a whole bunch of bloggers bring together their magical lists of 10 (10 is a magic number as far as lists are concerned – right?).

This week the topic is one that we all know only too well about:

‘Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling You That You MUST Read (whether because they think it’s a “you” book or it’s just been generally recommended so often)’

This was surprisingly more difficult than I thought.  I’ve come up with a mix of authors and books/series.

  1. The Dark Towers by Stephen King – so many people have told me to read this series that I really should just get on with it – I even have The Gunslinger already!  What am I waiting for – plus no five to six year wait between books!  Bonus.
  2. The Glamourist Histories by Mary Robinette Kowal, starting with Shades of Milk and Honey.  A combination of Regency England with a touch of fantasy and magic.  Sounds excellent.
  3. The rest of the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch.  I’ve read the first but not picked up the following books in the series.
  4. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – fairytale reworking of Cinderella set in the future.  Sounds definitely up my street and I’ve had the first book for ages.
  5. The urban fantasy Fever series by Karen Marie Moning – starting with Dark Fever – own the first book of this but not got to it and can’t decide if the urge has now passed by!
  6. Seanan McGuire – not read any by this author but constantly hearing that I should do so – any recommendations???
  7. Ian Banks – I realise I should probably be ashamed but there it is!
  8. Ilona Andrews – I’m sure that I read Magic Bites a long while ago but I can’t find it and so now I’m not sure if I’m just imagining it!  I feel like I should give this series a try.
  9. David Gemmell – can’t believe I’ve not read any of his books – I do own three and they’re on my classic list!
  10. The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie.  I can’t believe I haven’t read these books!!!  Literally, I could break out the pitchforks and torches and chase myself out of town!

What’s at the top of your recommendations list?

The Godless by Ben Peek

Posted On 18 August 2014

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Just finished reading The Godless which I have to say I enjoyed.  This book is described as epic and I can see why. The scope here certainly justifies that description.

Set in a world where the Gods are dying following war with each other, their bodies now lie beneath the oceans, in the forests and under mountain ranges.  One of these Gods, Ger, lies dying beneath a mountain range that the city of Mireea is nestled up against.  The inhabitants of the city of Mireea are known as the Godless.  They little believe in deities as they go about the hustle and bustle of their busy working lives.  However, in spite of their lack of faith nothing can alter the fact that a God lies in the final throes of death beneath their city, his power leeching out through the earth infecting some of the residents with power.  Known as the cursed, when their powers manifest, these people are shunned, despised and feared by the people of Mireea.

In the City of Leera a different story is unfolding.  There an army gathers, driven by their faith they aim to march upon the trading post of Mireea and reclaim the God that lies there.  Not everything is as it seems and strange blood magic seems to play a role.

This story is much more than a potential war between two cities however.  There are vast amounts of history to be revealed during the course of the story and a number of revelations.  I won’t deny that Peek throws you into the story without so much as a lifeline.  He takes the approach of dropping you into the deep end and hoping that you’ll learn fast or sink deep.  I quite like this although won’t deny there were places that I was puzzled and had to back track for the purpose of clarity.  That being said, and whilst not everything has yet been declared, the various strands come together very satisfactorily.

There are a number of central characters.  Ayae, who at the start of the book is attacked by a reanimated member of the recently dead and thrown into the body of a blazing fire – from which she emerges unscathed.  Her life is turned upside down immediately as the people of the city find out and shun her.  She also becomes the immediate focus for a number of others.  Zaifyr, a warded man, solitary and feared and yet drawn inexplicably to help Ayae.  Fo and Bau who are sent to Mireea from the City of Eflam – they are keepers of the divine – and they would try to help Ayae come to terms with her new found abilities.  The one thing that all three have in common is their power and immortality.  Each having lived for hundreds of years, each bearing different curses and each with a different agenda.  Are they Gods in the making??

We also make the acquaintance of Bueralan.  Formerly a member of the nobility before being exiled and resorting to the life of a mercenary and saboteur.  Bueralan leads a fearsome cast of not to be messed with mercenaries.  He’s going to find himself leading a mission accompanied by a mysterious character who we still know little about.  Samuel Orlan.  He’s a cartographer, Ayae his apprentice.  The name Orlan is eventually passed on to the apprentice who becomes the next in line to wear the mantle.  Now, i freely admit that I don’t really know what is going on with Mr Orlan.  He really is a mystery.  I’m not sure whether that’s in a good way or not or whether he’s one of those characters that float through fantasy novels playing a meaningful role whilst not being aligned to either side?  It remains to be discovered.

There is a lot to be taken in although I’ve barely skimmed the surface here and frankly I can’t really do it justice without writing an essay!  And, I will make clear that this is not a novel to be raced through.  You need to read it thoroughly and digest slowly.  

In terms of criticisms – well, I can’t deny there’s a lot to take in.  The plot does jump about a little also going further back in time to give a person’s history and the whole deity/would-be God elements are still a little puzzling but I think it’s worth the effort and I look forward to the next instalment to see where Peek takes this next.

I received a copy of this courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley.  The above is my own opinion.

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