I had no expectations that the author would return to Criminy and Tish’s story and the Criminy’s circus where this whole delightful series got started. Bravo, Ms. Dawson! I didn’t realize how badly I wanted it until it was suddenly a possibility so I snatched it up and devoured it like the sweetest, most sinful morsel.
The story is indeed a follow-up book focused on Crim and Tish, but it also was a reunion story that brought together everyone from all the previous books and novellas. It felt like coming home when I returned to the world of Sang and I absolutely recommend getting these in order.
The story opens with Tish facing down a decision that she does not want to make. The witch’s curse has literally sucked the life out of her and continues to do so, but she won’t let Criminy take the last of her humanity and Blud her. She says it is because of her dear gran back in the earth world, but deep down it is fear of the final, irrevocable change. She is abrupt and stormy, but Criminy is there beside her even when she leaps at the new idea of bringing her gran across and letting Criminy blud her to save her from dying. Criminy is reluctant, but does it for Tish.
Tish soon finds that her young, youthful gran who insists on being called Ruby is nothing like she expected. Ruby is flamboyant and daring and dismissive of Tish. Then she is gone from the circus. Criminy advises Tish to let Ruby go, but she can’t. So off they go on a dangerous adventure to find Ruby who has gone in search of a powerful dark witch. In the end, Tish is forced to face her fears and not just a few facts and may lose that which is most important to her.
Alright, being reunited with Criminy, Tish, and the rest of the gang in Sang was an absolute treat beyond measure. The worldbuilding was just as colorful, unsettling, dangerous, and exciting as ever. The tone was so well-done the way I had no trouble feeling like I was visiting a bizarre new place.
There was lots of familiar settings and characters, but I loved that the adventure took me into a new situation of ‘what happens after happily ever after’ for people like Criminy and Tish. Tish is stubborn and impulsive and Criminy is devilishly attractive in that foreign macabre way of his. The story cements them as a couple through thick and thin. I loved that they got so much page time together. And the adventure was not easy nor was it loss, but it kept my attention riveted to the very end. I probably should have detested Ruby, but I found her a most interesting character that made a scene absolutely crackle with tension. I had no trouble seeing the situation in a way that the heroine, Tish could not and didn’t until near the end with Criminy’s help.
The adventure was dark and gritty like it can get in the Blud series. The author isn’t afraid to let the monsters in this world whether they are good or bad or a bit of both out. The blend of fantasy, paranormal, and steampunk is done well. By this story, most of it goes unexplained and is just assumed which was fun in its familiar feel.
The romance is an ongoing relationship, but it never felt staid or settled. Criminy is as larger than life, passionate, and dangerous as ever and has no trouble getting Tish out of her head and off her worries. He worries for her in this story and it was sweet to see him expose that vulnerability to Tish. It was a nice blend of scorching passion and tender romance.
All in all, this last book of the Blud series was all that a last book should be. Do I still want more visits to Sang? You bet! But if I have to say good-bye then this farewell was done well. I would recommend this series to those who enjoy a bit of macabre, some grit, and some passion in a blending of paranormal and steampunk in a fantasy world.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #334 SP
Cliché Klatch #204 ‘Let it go’
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