Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Pocket Books
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
A contortionist and a rakish brigand navigate the cabarets of Paris to rescue a girl taken by slavers in the third steampunk-tinged romance of the Blud series.
Life as a contortionist in Criminy’s Clockwork Caravan should be the height of exotic adventure, but for Demi Ward, it’s total dullsville. Until her best friend, Cherie, is stolen by slavers outside of Paris, and Demi is determined to find her.
On the run from his own past, Vale Hildebrand, a dashing rogue of a highwayman, hides Demi from the slavers…but why? He pledges to help her explore the glittering cabarets of Paris to find her friend, but much to Vale’s frustration, Demi soon attracts a host of wealthy admirers. The pleasures of music, blood, and absinthe could turn anyone’s head, and it would be all too easy to accept Cherie’s disappearance as inevitable—but with Vale’s ferocious will and Demi’s drive to find her friend, they soon have a lead on a depraved society of Parisian notables with a taste for beautiful lost girls. Can Demi wind her way through the seedy underbelly of Paris and save her best friend before she, too, is lost?
In this last Blud novel, Delilah S. Dawson takes us to Franchia and gives us a taste of the forbidden. Through Demi Ward's eyes and experiences, we take part in Parisian nightclubs, dine in dark corners with princes and dukes, get drunk on blud and absinthe, watch the can-can, take a ride on a mechanized elephant and come up against a powerful and evil underground club that steals pretty women's souls.
Demi Ward is both enchanting and infuriating, she's vain, self-serving and easily distracted by bright and shiny things. She used to be in Criminy Stain's caravan but Demi's worldly desires overpowered reason which led her to the fancy lights of Paris, Franchia. It paid off eventually but not without numerous glitches. On the way to Paris, her bestfriend and partner, Cherie, got abducted and while Demi wants to save her, she got busy making a name for herself headlining in Paridis, a gentleman's club, located in the heart of Paris' red light district.
If not for the hunky Brigand of Ruin, Vale Hildebrand, Demi never stood a chance in rescuing Cherie. Vale rescued Demi when they got ambushed on the road and helped her get situated in Paradis. As for Cherie's search and rescue, Vale basically did most of the legwork while Demi flirted and fed on one entitled gentleman after the other. One would think Vale's Cherie's friend and not Demi because of his dedication to his mission. And this is why I didn't like Demi much, she would always mention her friend and be concerned about her whereabouts but her actions didn't quite match her supposed desire to find her. While she's busy seducing men and getting famous, Vale is the one combing through the streets, bribing and finding clues that would lead them to Cherie.
I may be wrong but my understanding of the plot and conflict lies on Cherie's search and rescue. This wasn't reinforced strongly throughout the novel but came a little late in the story. There were clues left here and there but we're so distracted with the pizzazz of Demi's life as a starlet, the mystery/adventure part took a backseat. The real threat made a strong presence towards the end which made the conflict resolution rushed and not as gripping as Wicked As They Come.
What balanced things out for me was WICKED AFTER MIDNIGHT's world building. Franchia gave off a strong bohemian feel and it's something Baz Luhrmann would enjoy visiting. The romance between Demi and Vale was filled with tension heightened by Demi's unavailability and Vale's constant pursuance of her. Paradis reminded me a lot of that movie Moulin Rouge, although Franchia has it's over version called Moulin Bleu, with its crazy productions, women in costumes and the men throwing their money at their feet for a few hours' worth of fun and debauchery.
WICKED AFTER MIDNIGHT ended the Blud series remarkably. Although part of me wished that it was Tish and Ciminy who'd send us on our way, I'm still happy that DSDawson ended things on such a high note. I love the amalgam of magic, wickedness, romance and technology and how it fired up my imagination. The series as a whole remained very romantic not just on the emotional side of things but the imagined world of Blud as a whole. The fantasy part wasn't too hifalutin and the paranormal aspect wasn't too heavy to limit its readership. It just had the right amounts of whimsy to brighten the landscape which made for a wonderful escape more than anything. Like I said, I compare it to Alice's rabbit hole and I wish I could will myself to Sangland while I sleep so I can see this universe DSDawson created first hand and maybe apprentice in Criminy's caravan.
ACCORDING TO DELILAH S. DAWSON
4. It's the last book in the series, so even if you're one of those people who refuse to read a series until it's over, NOW'S YOUR TIME.
5. You like Fantasy adventure stories that defy genre and expectation with imaginative worldbuilding, new races, new creatures, and plenty of excitement.
7. You like Steampunk stories with technology firmly based in logical worldbuilding and fully integrated into society, aesthetics, and every day life. No gluing on of gears here!
21. It makes a fantastic gift, whether for a friend, your mother, or your kid's teacher, who already has 1000 mugs with apples on them but could definitely use an escape from reality.
23. You want to see more stories in the Blud universe, because that sort of decision is based strictly on numbers and I still have lots of fantastic ideas including buffalo-drawn chariots and cat-headed people building pyramids with gigantic clockwork camels.
Read the other 20 reasons here
Read the reviews