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 submitno matter how sweet the sacrifice.
Challenging my rival to a race is the only way to end thisno 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.
About the Author
Karina is a gamer, a borderline hermit, and an activist. She co-exists with a husband, a menagerie and a severe coffee habit.
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A fortnight after my husband was murdered, I exhibited a severe allergy to sobriety.
Nightmares plagued first my sleep, then haunted me through every waking hour. In order to maintain what sanity I had left, I chewed the opium that was so much easier to attain now that I had taken my shelter below London's foggy drift.
Laudanum alone could not accomplish what the resin of Turk's bliss would.
It became a rote as unthinking as breathing. A bit of tar before I sought my rest. Another bit more upon waking, to ease the ache of the night's passing. I swallowed it when the anxieties of the fortnight's events wrapped around my chest, tighter than any corset I'd ever worn, and squeezed the living breath from me.
I licked the bitter medicine for courage and I choked it down to forget.
Revenge tasted best when laced with the cinnamon-sharp draught of laudanum, but such liquid was more difficult to carry and hold than the wax-wrapped bit of opium I had taken to keeping in my pocket. And certainly the ruby solution I'd grown to require could not compare to the long, narrow tube I now held in my hands, its fragrant smoke drifting through my nostrils and into my hazy, addled mind.
While I imbibed, freely and without thought for consequence, I could not bring myself to grieve.
I was on a charge. Or, rather, I should have been.
My name is Cherry St. Croix, and I am a collector. I hunt men for bountiesfor coin delivered upon successful conveyance of vagrants, degenerates and those too far in debt to allow to roam free. Were I anywhere else but in a Limehouse opium den buried beneath the choking fog of London low, I would be Lady Compton, grieving widow to the late Cornelius Kerrigan Compton, Earl Compton, and certainly I would not be a collector of any stripe.
A countess could not set so much as a dainty slipper beneath the foggy drift without every periodical from here to the remote Orkneys shouting the scandal.
Of course, I had served as a collector for longer than I'd ever been a countessfive of my twenty years compared to five hours a bride; and the former a secret affectation, beside.
A fortnight as a widow, and I had not yet relinquished my collector's role. Here, in this shabbily furnished parlor with the stained brown walls and shoddy, threadbare settees and chairs, I could simply be a street boy, with my soot-blackened hair hidden beneath a floppy cap, and my clothing deliberately large to disguise the specially designed collecting corset I wore beneath.
If any of the lolling, idle patrons of this dimly lit Chinese den considered me more than a slightly rotund youth, there was no word, no glance, no questions. Only the brief brush of work-rimed, callused fingers against mine as the pipe passed into my hands and out again, and the sweet, almost lyrical orchestra of voices raised in absent conversation.
The idle gossip of Jack the Ripper, that mad murderer stalking Whitechapel's doxies and dollymops, could not chill the warmth of the pipe. The crimes the fiend perpetrated in the depths of smoke-blackened night turned all of London on its ear, and to date, even Scotland Yard's finest had failed to suss out the criminal's identityfor all that, these things did not sour the atmosphere of this dingy place. Truth be told, an evening spent imbibing Chinese opium often made the grimmest news seem tolerable, and even welcome.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When one hears the word “corroded,” one thinks of metal that has been eaten away. However, in this case, the word does not describe metal but rather the main character, Cherry St. Croix. Cherry is a collector (bounty hunter) in a steampunk London. She has dealt with some serious darkness in her life. Her parents died and left her orphaned. Then her father re-appeared, but as a mad scientist who tried to kill her instead of the loving father she had once known. Then she battled a rival collector who, in the end, killed her husband hours after the wedding. Now she has only one thing on her mind—revenge. In order to cope with life, she has always utilized drugs, first laudanum and now opium. She has become a shadow of her former self, addicted to opium and leaving death and destruction in her way as other people pay the consequences for her actions. The denizens of the Menagerie have sheltered her, but she keeps failing to complete the missions assigned her. She is attracted and repulsed at the same time by the ringmaster Hawke. She must stop Jack the Ripper and the rival collector, whose identity will further rip her apart when she discovers it. By the end of the novel, she has sunk lower than she ever imagined possible. Is there to be any redemption for Cherry St. Croix? I have not read the first two books in the series, although I have read The Mysterious Case of Mr. Strangeway, a novella that describes Cherry’s first collection. It was quite shocking to jump from the 15-year-old Cherry going on her first collection to the Cherry of this book. I definitely want to go back and read those other two books because I do feel like I’m missing quite a bit. The events from those books were explained somewhat, but I just didn’t feel that I had enough information to completely understand what had brought Cherry to the desperate point we see her in here. Her whole “relationship” with Hawke is also puzzling to me. Again, I think I would have to go back and read those other two books to fully understand it.
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.