Review: Corroded (The St. Croix Chronicles 3) by Karina Cooper
Author: Karina Cooper
Series: The St. Croix Chronicles 3
Publisher: Carina Press, September 23, 2013
Format: eBook, 264 pages
List Price: $3.99
Review copy: Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley
Hungry for vengeance, Cherry St. Croix is forced to the fog-ridden streets of Victorian London. My rival, a collector of bounties like myself, has murdered one of my own. In consequence, I have been removed from my house, my staff and all who would support me. I have nowhere else to turn, so I beg asylum within the Midnight Menagerie, London's decadent pleasure garden. Micajah Hawke's dominance there will not tolerate my presence for long. I am fixated on revenge, but I walk a razor's edge under his scrutiny. His wicked power is not easily ignored, and I must not allow myself to submit--no matter how sweet the sacrifice. Challenging my rival to a race is the only way to end this--no small task when the quarry is the murderous Jack the Ripper. As my enemies close in, I fear the consequences of this hunt. I am trapped between two killers, and what doesn't kill me may leave its scars forever.
The third in the Cherry St Croix series adds a new dimension to dark and foreboding. Cherry continues her search for both Jack the Ripper and the 'sweet tooth' who murdered her husband on their wedding day. She barely escaped being locked away by her vindictive mother-in-law who has always thought Cherry was not good enough to marry her son. Determined to find justice for her husband, her friends and the murdered sweets Cherry continues her search in the underbelly of London. Luck is definitely not on her side as time has run out and The Veil wants the concoction that her father had poisoned her with in book 1. Cherry neither has the serum or the desire to give it to them but her hand might be forced as no one betrays The Veil and goes unpunished. The future looks as bleak as the landscape for the reluctant heroine.
Cherry's addiction to opium completely takes over her life and becomes more than just a crutch. The focus of her every step is dependent on when or how much resin she has to consume. Through her dependency we get an insight into her life before she was rescued as a young girl. Her time in the circus was truly horrific and it is plain to see how she came to be addicted to laudanum in order to escape the nightmare of those years. Despite this Cherry still manages to stay true to herself and to her mission despite the fact that most of it is seen through the fugue of a heroin high.
The enigmatic Micajah Hawke is ever present in Cherry's life as she uses the Menagerie as her base. Rather than learning more about Hawke I was left with ever more questions although there was plenty of development of his character during their interactions. Very few of the other characters from Cherry's life are present in this installment but this makes complete sense as she is hiding away from them in order to find the sweet tooth. Her sense of loneliness is palatable as is the sense of loss and regret for the life she never really fit into. She doesn't have too much time to feel sorry for herself as her personal mission to find a killer keeps her more than busy.
I found this review very difficult to write. Not that I didn't enjoy the book because I did. Cherry's life is so bleak and has been since book 1. It keeps getting darker and darker without much of a reprieve in sight. I was quite maudlin at the end of book two when Lord Compton died. I didn't think it could get more depressing but it seems to. Cooper is a master at creating pathos and has developed an environment that lends itself to conveying this feeling.
Cooper resolves the sweet tooth plotline in such a perfect and subtle manner. After so much focus on this plot throughout the series the resolution just seems to pop in, almost to fuel the action in later scenes. Cooper creates a mystery within a mystery in Corroded and leaves the reader with a magnificent cliff hanger. She certainly does know how to tease as I thought the ending of book 2 was cruel enough to my already frayed nerves but Cooper does it again. I am more than eagerly awaiting book 4 but I beg of Cooper...please, please, please have something nice happen to Cherry! Maybe she finds a penny on the street or she gets a hug from a stranger or she gets to play with some kittens or puppies. Its almost getting too dark and I need a tiny little light at the end of the Cherry St. Croix tunnel.