A contortionist and a rakish brigand navigate the cabarets of Paris to rescue a girl taken by slavers in the third steampunk-tinged romance of the Blud series.
Life as a contortionist in Criminy’s Clockwork Caravan should be the height of exotic adventure, but for Demi Ward, it’s total dullsville. Until her best friend, Cherie, is stolen by slavers outside of Paris, and Demi is determined to find her.
On the run from his own past, Vale Hildebrand, a dashing rogue of a highwayman, hides Demi from the slavers…but why? He pledges to help her explore the glittering cabarets of Paris to find her friend, but much to Vale’s frustration, Demi soon attracts a host of wealthy admirers. The pleasures of music, blood, and absinthe could turn anyone’s head, and it would be all too easy to accept Cherie’s disappearance as inevitable—but with Vale’s ferocious will and Demi’s drive to find her friend, they soon have a lead on a depraved society of Parisian notables with a taste for beautiful lost girls. Can Demi wind her way through the seedy underbelly of Paris and save her best friend before she, too, is lost?
Wicked After Midnight is the third and final book in the Blud series, a set of three steampunk fantasy romance novels set in the same world but with each following a different pair of main characters. You could pick up any of the three and read it without having read the other two, and you’d be fine.
I love this series. Love love love. The world, a sort of medieval parallel to modern day Earth, is rich and dark and has clockworks and magic in equal measure. Plus Dawson’s love interests in each book are smoking hot, strong, dangerous to their enemies and respectful of their leading ladies (which is one of the reasons they are smoking hot, in my book!). Wicked After Midnight brought us more of the same in that sense, while telling a different story.
The bulk of this book is set in the Blud equivalent of Paris, populated mostly by daimons — magical creatures that feeds on emotions — and the humans they need to survive. The main character, Demi, is a bludman (basically a vampire but with a bunch of unique aspects that separate them from your typical Dracula or Edward), and — due to her awesome contortionist abilities — quickly becomes a star in the cabaret. I love the movie Moulin Rouge and there were a lot of elements of that in here. I pretty much had the soundtrack stuck in my head the whole time I was reading.
The only fly in the ointment for me is that Demi is a bit of a diva. At the start of the book she basically harrasses her best friend, Cherie, into running away from the caravan to join the cabaret (despite all the warnings she gets about how this isn’t the glamorous life she thinks it is). When Cherie goes missing, Demi decides the best way to find her is to follow through on her original plan and become a star. She then gets so swept up in her new life that at times she completely forgets about her friend. If it wasn’t for Vale, quietly reminding her every so often that he’s still pursuing her friend, Cherie would probably never be found.
Now, in Demi’s defence, a lot of cabaret girls have gone missing, presumably taken by the same people that took Cherie, and her plan to make herself bait and investigate the clientele for hints of her friend isn’t a bad one in and of itself. And she does regret the self-absorption, when she realises what she’s done. But I would’ve liked to see more active searching as well, maybe a couple of scenes early on that involved her actually going out into the city looking for clues, just so I didn’t feel like her decision to join the cabaret was her deluding herself into thinking she was “helping”.
The overall theme of this book is quite pertinent despite its fantasy setting: mysogyny, rape culture and women’s fight against it. And any qualms I had about Demi were blown right out of the water by her defiant reaction to that culture and the things that are expected of her as a dancer and a courtesan. There’s no doubt that if anyone actually tried to force themselves on her, she’d gut them. For example, I love this quote:
My only choices were play nice, get raped or die?
The Blud series is a great read, and definitely worth your time if you like stories about carnivals and dancers; hot vampires; steampunk technology (and let’s take a moment to acknowledge the awesomeness that is Coco in this book — she’s only in two scenes and she steals them both); respectful men who are apparently fantastic in bed (*fans self*!); and strong women who know what they want and aren’t afraid to take it.
A year ago, I undertook my first venture into the scary world of blogging.
A lot has changed since then. Back then, Isla’s Inheritance was still being queried and I hadn’t finished Isla’s Oath, the sequel. Now both books and the third in the series have been contracted to Turquoise Morning Press.
My muse had yet to mug me like the street thug she is with the idea for Lucid Dreaming. Now I’ve entered it in the same pitching contest that taught me the ropes a year ago, Brenda Drake’s amazing PitchWars.
My charming, adorable and bright three-year-old boy is now a charming, adorable and bright four-year-old boy. We’ve moved house and bought two dogs. AND I’M STILL SANE!
To celebrate all of these things, and just because it’s nearly Christmas and I’m dizzy from heatstroke, I’m having a giveaway. The winner can choose a paperback (made of PAPER) from one of my favourite reads of 2013. The giveaway is open to people anywhere The Book Depository delivers. Enter my blogaversary giveaway HERE!
“Pivot Point” by Kasie West
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.
“Shadows” by Paula Weston
It’s been almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant.
It doesn’t help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell-spawn. And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who’s been appearing in Gaby’s dreams, he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense.
Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth – and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares.
Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And most importantly – who can she trust?
“Wicked as they Come” by Delilah S. Dawson
When nurse Tish Everett forced open the pesky but lovely locket she found at an estate sale, she had no idea she was answering the call of Criminy Stain, from the far off land of Sang. He’d cast a spell for her, but when she’s transported right to him, she’s not so sure she’s ready to be under the spell of another man. (It didn’t go so well last time with controlling, abusive, domineering Jeff.) If only Criminy wasn’t so deliciously rakish….
Half the inhabitants of Sang are Pinkies—human—and the other half are Bludmen, who in Tish’s world would be called vampires. But they don’t mess with any of the bat/coffin/no sunlight nonsense. They’re rather like you and me, just more fabulous, long living, and mostly indestructible. (They’re also very good kissers.) But when the evil Mayor of Manchester (formerly Bludchester) redoubles his efforts to rid Sang of the Bludmen once and for all, stealing Tish’s locket in hopes of traveling back to her world himself for reinforcements, Criminy and Tish must battle ghosts, sea monsters, wayward submarines, a secret cabal, and thundering Bludmares to get the locket back and allow Tish to return home…but has she found love with Criminy? Could she stay in Sang forever?
“Tomorrow, When the War Began” by John Marsden
When Ellie and her friends return from a camping trip in the Australian bush, they find things hideously wrong — their families are gone. Gradually they begin to comprehend that their country has been invaded and everyone in their town has been taken prisoner. As the reality of the situation hits them, they must make a decision — run and hide, give themselves up and be with their families, or fight back.