Tarnished by Karnina Cooper is a steampunk, mystery, paranormal book staring Cherry St. Croix. Cherry is a high society outcast who instead of going to parties would rather spend her time preforming experiments. She is an orphan and unfortunately has not come into her inheritance yet and must work as a bounty hunter to make up for what her allowance doesn’t cover.
Something Cherry’s allowance doesn’t cover is her opium addiction. Cooper, at least in this novel, doesn’t portray this as a bad thing, it’s hard to tell if this is because the book from Cherry’s point of view. Cherry’s addiction doesn’t seem to be terribly awful, she is never really afraid of going through withdrawal. She also is using the drug, like many addicts do, to self-medicate. Cherry has terrible nightmares and the only way she can get a good night sleep is drugged.
Cooper set up in this book the drama for a love triangle in the next books of the series. Cherry gets to choose between the Earl, Cornelius Kerrigan Compton, who is in good standing with society, and Micajah Hawke, who is part of the literal underbelly of London. I loved the idea of London being split, high society is up on stilts in the London sky to get away from the smog and the rest of the people are still on the ground. This means flying gondolas! It’s a great take on steampunk London.
This could be an incredible series as long as Copper doesn’t exchange fast paced mysteries for drawn out angst over which man to choose.
Does it pass the Bechdel test?