Sunday, April 14, 2013

Book Review: Wicked as They Come

Wicked as They Come (Blud #1)
Delilah S. Dawson

Release Date: March 27, 2012

Book Description:
First in a steampunk-tinged paranormal romance series in which a woman is transported to a world filled with vampires and magic. 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?

"Spanish Caravan" by the Doors

Carry me Caravan take me away
Take me to Portugal, take me to Spain
Andalusia with fields full of grain
I have to see you again and again
Take me, Spanish Caravan
Yes, I know you can

Trade winds find Galleons lost in the sea
I know where treasure is waiting for me
Silver and gold in the mountains of Spain
I have to see you again and again
Take me, Spanish Caravan
Yes, I know you can

Are you ready to step through the looking glass, right into a Vampireland…er, I mean Sang?

One day, Tish is a nurse, living alone with a cat, after she broke off from her controlling fiancé; trying to pick up the pieces of her broken self. Another, she finds herself naked, save the mysterious locket she accidently picked up at an estate sale of her former patient, lying on a stone being watched by a mysterious gentleman, who might have been Mr. Darcy’s extra-naughty cousin. What is one to do when they find themselves in such circumstance you ask? Well, of course, you must realize that it is a dream! Only that it’s not and you are the gentleman’s mail-order bride. Welcome to Sang, where, if you are a Pinky (i.e. human), beware that even the cutest fuzzy bunny is there waiting to sink his sharp, pointy teeth into your flesh. Indeed, the lands of Sang are full of teeth:

“…contemplating the dark possibilities of a forest where Snow White had more to fear from her animal friends than from any wicked queen.” (p. 162).

Tish, or Lady Letitia, Fortune-Teller as she becomes known, has no choice but to join the traveling circus, whose master is none other but our mysterious gentleman: Criminy Stain, Gypsy King. (Ok, I admit I’ve rolled my eyes a few times while reading the novel, just because of his name. It is somewhat fitting within the whole world building but “Criminy,” really?) As Tish reluctantly starts to accept her new reality, and contemplate her options of getting back to her own world, the slow beginnings of a relation between the two main characters start to sprout.

Through numerous endearments, such as “love” and “pet”, which is how Criminy insists on referring to Tish throughout the novel, (which also irked me to no end); we meet the various carnivalleros of the Criminy’s Clockwork Caravan, whom I found to be quite interesting, unusual and at times very colorful characters. Thereafter, the adventures commence, and armed with their magical abilities and convenience of occasional use of Tish’s blood as currency, the two travel the lands of Sang, through various events, trying to recapture the mysterious locket (that of course, gets stolen at the first opportunity), so that Tish may return to her world, while also saving the Bludmen (i.e., vampires) of Sang. Well, you get the idea: at the end love conquers all, cause nobody likes to read a sad fairytale.

Personally I am not a big fan of circus, and thought I wouldn’t enjoy the story as much when the said circus was introduced, but surprisingly I did. It added an interesting layer to the story, a bit of magic, and a fairy-tale feel. In fact, I think I found the whole novel to be very much like an interesting mix of some of the great fairy-tales: a dash of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a drop of The Little Scarlet Flower (which is essentially a tale of  Beauty and the Beast) and perhaps something else unique, and steampunk to boot. Overall, I think Ms. Dwason has offered a captivating debut novel and if you are also on a lookout for a great PNR/Steampunk read this is the one for you!

Things that didn’t impress me:
Perhaps, my biggest problem with this novel was that I didn’t fall in love with the main characters. I didn’t relate to Letitia, nor Criminy for that matter.

Letitia either cries, whines, faints, sleeps, or pretends to be fearsome and motivated, but that is usually short lived.

Criminy underwhelmed as the love interest. He was not very gentlemanly, or hero-type. And even, the long awaited love scene on the submarine (oh yes! There is a submarine involved.) fell a bit short in my opinion. Plus, I couldn’t get past the black scales covering his hands (which is the general attribute of the Bludmen in the series).

Other comments:
I kept hearing the Doors playing in the background while reading the novel, hence the lyrics of the “Spanish Caravan” in the beginning of the review. In general, the lyrics of a few of the Doors’ songs would’ve fit quite right within this novel: “People are Strange” or possibly, “Hello, I Love You,” don’t you think?


  1. hahaha, great review, V..! I admit for me this book had a much better appeal than for you because Criminy reminded me of Spike, and I love Spike.Plus all that love and pet is the least you can hear in England. Very British. I've been called that, plus sugar, duck and cocker... ;) Go figure.

    1. I did still enjoy it...(reading the 2nd one at the moment), but certain moments definitely were not up my alley. :) I'll take your word for it on all those "love" and "pet" references - haha I think even Tish makes a comment that to her ears it sounds strange. I guess after all we get Americanized ;) "hun" is much more common around here.

  2. Britain is incredible that way, so much regional slang - you could barely understand people sometimes, but I like it. It's kinda cozy. Even horrendous cockney talk which is what you've read in Bec McMaster's book. People definitely still talk like that...

    1. Need to visit Britain, asap! ;)

      It's all good. There wasn't as much of that in the second book though! Speaking of which - gotta go write that review.


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