Welcome to a world of many Londons, all tainted with their particular shade of magic. Throw in an Ansari on the run...with a felonious sidekick and a mysterious runic black stone from Black London (think rock of pure evil) and you have a heady fantasy...I'm about halfway through and biting my nails as Kell and Lila make it back to Red London only to find themselves in a pickle....
BOOK: Sacrificial Magic
AUTHOR: Stacia Kane
PUBLISHER: Del Rey
RELEASE: March 27, 2012
RATING: 5 Stars
Kane ventures into more intimate territory…that of the inner workings and mechanisms of Chess, Lex, and Terrible. Those vices, the fragile world that Chess has managed to balance precariously between Churchwitch business and that of the rancid underbelly of Downside come converging in Sacrificial Magic. And the resulting detonation will either tear Chess’s world apart, or make her face down her personal demons once and for all.
When another Debunker suspiciously abandons his assignment and disappears without a trace and without Banishing the ghost he has uncovered, Elder Griffin sends Chess to clean up the mess. But what she faces is no mere fraud, or benign haunting. Someone is summoning a ghost and fueling it with ritual sacrifice creating a magical imbalance that threatens the City.
Further complicating the issue is that her assignment ends up taking her to the wrong side of the tracks…straight into Slobag’s territory. The turf war between Slobag and Bump plays an even bigger role as Chess who is firmly entrenched with Terrible will be forced to face serious trust issues, as well the plight of allegiance. Who can she trust? And can Terrible trust her?
Lex figures very largely in this latest installment, as does his sister Blue and as much as he wants to keep a close eye on Chess’ investigation in his ‘hood, he does so at the risk of inserting a wedge between Chess and Terrible…which could be a terrible thing for his health. Kane has dangled an irresistible lure in Lex…with the residual attraction between he and Chess, and the on-going animosity with Terrible, the conflict seethes as much as the attraction sparks. It’s a double-edged sword thrust expertly. (but hurts oh so good…)
Kane’s voice is stronger than ever in Sacrificial Magic, more assured and badass as ever. One of the things I love about Chess is that she appears so irreparably damaged but through it all a feral sense of survival, grim honesty, and wash of hope manage to seep through-brilliant facets of a complex character that keep me endlessly reading on and on.
When all things are changing in her world, and no pill, no puff of Dream will be able to rein it back in again comes acceptance for Chess, acceptance of who she is, who she wants to be, and who she wants to be with.
Sacrificial Magic is a turning point for Chess, and another reminder that things do not stay static and that the changes will force her to step up to the plate or hide. Those exorcised feelings of inadequacy, chased away by the plenitude of ‘cepts and Oozers come home to roost for Chess. And in all the tumultuousness, the internal churning that quakes throughout its pages, you get the real feel in Sacrificial Magic, that things are going to change so drastically for Chess that she might actually see her way clear.
As a highlight, the remarkable intensity that Kane crafts between Terrible and Chess pays off in so many ways that fans will be sighing for days later, basking in the bliss of heat and sweetness and hoping for a Chevelle and a rainstorm at the ready…
A Fiendishly Bookish Review
Fiendish Review: Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson is a lushful alt-Victorian-sinfully-good-read!
BOOK: Wicked as They Come
AUTHOR: Delilah S. Dawson
PUBLISHER: Pocket Books
RELEASE: March 27, 2012
RATING: 5 Stars!
Like Neil Gaiman on insane carnival crack, Delilah S. Dawson’s debut, Wicked As They Come, took me by surprise the moment I picked it up. Skirting the boundaries of fantasy and paranormal, and playing coy with both, Wicked defies genre classification. It was so charming, and refreshingly good that I actually groaned when I hit the last page. Dawson has knit a story whose strength lies in a genuine voice, quirky characters, and notable world-building.
The tale of Letitia Paisley who accidentally steals a locket from an estate sale only to be transported to the alternate world of Sang and into the arms of Bludman and carnivallero Criminy Stain, is not your ordinary Dorothy leaving Kansas story.
Dawson’s plan from the beginning is to gently invite conflict after conflict into the mix: Letitia’s ability to “glance” the future which makes her both admired and feared, a scorned lover from Criminy’s past out for revenge, and the brutality of the Copper’s against the Bludmen all set the stage for an epic adventure-one that will cause Letitia to question her own path trapped between two realities, and will thrust her into Criminy’s arms, her only ally in a strange but vicious world.
Criminy Stain is by far my favorite character whose devilish and cajoling manner sometimes betrays his seriousness. He is formidably lethal as a Bludman, but his patience, joviality, inner steel, and magic are his main strengths. As is his ability to assess and defuse dangerous situations, stare down Coppers, and skillfully protect the carnivalleros and Letitia all the while trying to court her, had me jumping up and down in his corner shouting “Go Criminy!”
His patience spelling the locket, and waiting countless years for it to return to him is swooningly romantic but is also his greatest vulnerability, and despite him being a Bludman, makes him more human in the eyes of a reader. And the desperate plight of the Bludman being hunted by the nefarious Jonah Goodwill and his gang of crooked Coopers provides a lethal conflict that keeps the pages turning and Criminy and Leticia on their toes as they dash from one end of Sang to another to face him down.
The chemistry between Criminy and Leticia is lively, sweet, and their playful dialog does a great job of framing their attraction. I get the sense that Dawson is an incurable romantic at heart, because Wicked as They Come is deeply romantic with the gentle push and pull of a real relationship-not a construct. It simply was not enough for me. I ended up reading the arc THREE times.
If you were to twist the funhouse mirror just so, you might be able to glimpse Dawson’s alt-Victorian world in its reflection and beyond…an alternate reality just as breathtaking as Stormhold, Tortall, The Weird, Middle Earth, or Oz. Rich in culture, Sang is a vibrant tapestry of such lush viciousness where blud-thirsty animals roam the countryside ready to tear out the throats of any “Pinky” who dare show skin…and where the coin of the realm is Blud, magic and might.
Wicked as they Come is an amazing find, brimming with danger, incredible adventure that spans many genres and , and I cannot wait to read more of this lush, off-kilter world.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review
After an exhausting 2011, it has taken more than the usual measures to get back on track with…well…pretty much everything. But I am back in the driving seat and I have just switched out of neutral and I’m pulling away from the curb which is good news.
So far this year after all the books I have read (and yes I have read quite a bit), I have not wanted to review a single one. I’ve logged some of my reads in Good Reads, but not one tempted me enough to frantically scribble down notes.
Usually when I’m reading a great book I get continual “thought bubbles”, mental lightening bolts that have to be written down (compelled)…thank goodness for the iPhone Notes app or I would be lost. So there I was thinking (aka whining) why I hadn’t written any reviews so far this year until I cracked open Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson.
Lo and behold! A new and fascinating world to immerse and wallow myself in and for once, UNIQUE. Bloodthirsty. Invigorating. Quirky. I could barely contain all the comments my brain was sparking (including envy) about this amazing book.
So the answer for the review drought was simply apathy.
I want, need, have been craving, is more than the ordinary hero or black-clad heroine in a fiction novel. Is anyone doing anything different out there? Why is it always the same protagonist: the P.I, the messenger, the hybrid shapeshifter, the destined one? Could I be done with paranormal? Perhaps. But I could simply be embracing urban fantasy because it offers more.
Instead of building a book around a character and his/her unfathomable destiny, let’s try to build it around a world with a conflict. A world like no other. Throw your characters in it. Let the world shape them, destroy them, or have them emerge victorious but smoldering. Kill a few off, let’s the casualties reign. It’s hard to do…and I have read plenty of cop-outs over the years. Wring every drop of creativity for your world, invent every nook and cranny…after all you are in charge! It’s your world.
Some of my favorites, the absolute most memorable reads have been books with these characteristics…like Stacia Kane’s Downside series, which is an edgy smoke-filled urban fantasy that simply blew me away. Downside’s gritty burnt-out buildings, and its gangwars between Slobag and Bump, Chess fighting off her personal demons…all of it built on the fabric of magic and the Church of Real Truth.
Another is Lia Habel’s Dearly Departed, a refreshing blend of Victoriana, post-apocalyptic, zombie and steampunk that leaves an indelible mark. The war on the Front, the plight of those infected, Habel creates a complex and textured world that is rich and colored, and unforgettable.
Kristen Painter also wowed me with her world of the Comarre, in Blood Rights, with a rich culture, mannerisms all surrounding the intoxicating ritual of blood.
Another great favorite is Caitlin Kittredge’s Black London series which is just as gritty as Kane’s, and breathes dark magic…the definite draw is the turbulence between Pete Caldecott and Jack Winter…heart wrenching and riveting. Talk about going to hell and back, Kittredge pulls all the stops. I might have shed a tear or two…
These are just a few that are my favorites (there are so many more) and with that in mind, I have been selective with some of the urban fantasy series that I was going to read for 2012. They have to be enticing…exciting, unique. I’m building a wish list of reads that I hope will fulfill the
promise of an adventure like no other. I hope I am not disappointed!
Yum! The deliciousness of getting Book Loot in the mail. This week’s treats were ones I was eagerly waiting for…Carpathia by Matt Forbeck and yes….(drum roll please) Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson. Both of course are vampilicious with meaty blood sucking themes. I can barely contain myself from not cracking them open and voraciously sucking down the stories. (especially me having some Criminy Stain for myself!!)
Here is a blurb for Carpathia, and Wicked as They Come was featured in this weeks Radar:
“When the desperate survivors of the Titanic were rescued from the icy waters of the North Atlantic by the passenger steamship Carpathia, they thought their problems were over.
But something was sleeping in the darkest recesses of the rescue ship. Something old. Something hungry.
The lucky ones wished they’d gone down with the ship.” (from www.forbeck.com)