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The Qwillery

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Review: Engraved by Karina Cooper

Author:  Karina Cooper
Series:  The St. Croix Chronicles 5
Publisher:  Carina Press, August 11, 2014
Format:  eBook, 288 pages
List Price:  $3.99
ISBN:  9781426898815
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Engraved by Karina Cooper
Cherry St. Croix returns to the fog-ridden streets of Victorian London, where the balance of power threatens all that she loves.

I will not wither without laudanum. Sober and determined, I have chosen another way-- alchemy, and the pursuit of wellness it embodies. My name is Cherry St. Croix, and though freedom is finally at my fingertips, I return to the blackened streets intent on righting the wrongs I'd left behind.

All is not well in London low. Caught in a war between gangs, men are torn limb from limb, and I am called on to ascertain how. The immoral Karakash Veil is no doubt involved, and Micajah Hawke, a prisoner in his own Menagerie, cannot soften the danger this time.

Armed with the alchemical arts I have learned, my ever present guardian, and what few friends are left to me, I embark on a campaign to rescue the ringmaster I cannot abandon, save the Brick Street Bakers from annihilation, and finally face that which frightens me the most--my own heart.

Melanie's Thoughts

Engraved is the 5th book of The St. Croix Chronicles and finds Cherry back in London, laudanum free. She has been joined by her mentor/lover/guardian Ashmore to rescue the enigmatic Micajah Hawke. The London that she has returned to, free of the fugue of heroin, is not what she was expecting. Everywhere she turns her friends and loved ones are victims of the changes that the Karakash Veil has spearheaded since she left the city. There is now a war between the street gangs and the sweets from the Menagerie who had protected her are being are being broken and tossed aside. The most horrifying event however, is what has happened to her reluctant lover, Hawke. Cherry finds that Hawke has been imprisoned by the Veil but it is not clear whether he has been caged by his master or has chosen to be caged. It would all seem quite bleak and hopeless, but not for Cherry. Things couldn't really get much worse than the events of book 4 (Tempered) when her mother, from beyond the grave, tried to kill her and take over her body. Stopping the war and freeing Hawke seems almost like a walk in the park in comparison. Dark forces are at work and Cherry will have to use all her skills from years as a Collector and the new ones learned during her time with Ashmore in order to save her friends and her love, Hawke.

This instalment was a refreshing change to the previous novels where everything seemed so hopeless as Cherry sunk deeper and deeper to the grip of her heroin addiction. It's not like Cherry is running in fields of flowers or playing with kittens with balls of strings in this novel but at least she now has a clear mind and is empowered with the alchemical arts taught to her by her former guardian, Ashmore. As much as I could see Cherry's attraction to Hawke in the first 2 novels I am more convinced that it is Cherry's innate self destructive nature that draws her to his anti-hero. Hawke offers her up as a sacrifice in book 3 and is physically abusive to her in book 5 but she is still convinced he is worthy of her love. I wasn't entirely sure. I think I would find it hard to forgive a lover who hurts me physically and mentally. I suppose she can't resist a bad boy!

Many of the characters from previous novels make a re-appearance in this instalment, even those who died or were killed in the other books. Her short lived marriage to Lord Compton is prominent in her mind in the early chapters as she is forced to rely on her brother-in-law for help. Even though the tragic demise of Lord Compton is a feature of the first half of the book Compton's murderer and Cherry's dear friend Freddy is barely mentioned. I was expecting Cherry to be forced to come to terms with what Freddy did and the part she played in his downfall and the murders he committed to draw her attention. There was a lot to cover, however, with Cherry trying to save Hawke, the Baker boys, her friends and to escape the Veil and the evil he has spread across London.

I enjoyed this instalment, much more than book 4. Cherry's return to London signaled to me that Cooper was going to return to the gritty, steampunky, noir feel of the previous novels. I also feel this is down to the return of characters from previous books, as well as, the familiar setting of London. I didn't especially like that Cherry was still a victim of Hawke's but at least she is able to stick up for herself a bit more now due to her newly found powers. This read like the final book of the series to me. I think that Cherry could now be left to live her life. However, Cooper has one more of Cherry's story to tell (Transmuted) and I will be happy to read it. This is a dark series and not for anyone who has a problem with a heroine with a drug addiction or a hero who isn't that nice to his love interest. If however, you have a like a conflicted heroine and a perpetual bad boy living in the smog of a steampunk London then this is the series for you.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 17, 2014

Melanie's Week in Review - August 17, 2014

Well after the embarrassing events of last week (only having finished one book) I stepped it up a bit this week by reading 2 and one short story. The short story was so short its not worth telling you about so I will focus this week's WIR on full length novels. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - August 17, 2014Qwill very kindly pointed out that Engraved, the 5th in the Cherry St Croix series was available on NetGalley. Needless to say I dropped everything else and rushed off to request it. I will be writing a full review of Engraved (Carina Press, 8/11/2014)  so keep your eye out for it. It has already been released so if you are a diehard fan of the series then its available at all good retailers (and perhaps some not so good ones!) - eBook format only. I can't say too much other than I really enjoyed it and, despite all the action, Engraved has some relatively pleasant moments for Cherry who seems to go to hell and back (and then back again) during every book.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 17, 2014Next on my list to read was Blightborn by Chuck Wendig (Skyscape, 7/29/14). This is the 2nd novel in his dystopian YA Heartland Trilogy. Both my husband and I really enjoyed Under The Empyrean Sky. This trilogy is no less harrowing than many of Wendig's other books but he can really write convincingly from a teenager's POV.

Cael is back and still on the run with his friends Rigo and Lane. Cael is determined to rescue his sister Merelda and his girlfriend Gwennie who has found that life as a lottery winner on the flotilla isn't as glamorous as it was made out to be. Chasing Cael are Boyland Jnr, his obligated Wanda, Rigo's father, as well as, a mysterious hobo who is out for revenge. The story is told from several different POVs including those of Cael, Gwennie, Merelda, Cael's friends Rigo and Lane plus a few scenes with the misfit Wanda. This works well as the action occurs both on the flotilla and in the Heartland where Cael and friends have been caught up in a terrorist group called the Sleeping Dogs. Action and different shades of friendship are all mixed together with the folklore, mythology and religion of the Heartland. The Maize Witch is introduced who is the Heartland's version of the bogeyman. She is used to scare young kids into thinking they will be turned into 'the blighted' those poor individuals who are part human and part plant. Is she myth or is she real? Well you will have to read it to find out.

This series is another great example of Wendig's prodigious imagination. In Blightborn we learn more about the engaging characters from book 1 along with some new characters who vacillate between being bad and not so bad or bad and very very bad. You are always kept guessing what will happen next to this plucky group of teenagers who are tied to one another through bonds of love and friendship. This is a great series and even if you aren't a fan of books aimed at younger readers. There is really something in this series for everyone.

Well that is it for me. One more book than last week and hope to keep whittling down my TBR. I wish you all a happy week in reading.

Review: Engraved by Karina CooperMelanie's Week in Review - August 17, 2014

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