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Tarnished (The St. Croix Chronicles -1) by Karina Cooper

Tarnished (The St. Croix Chronicles #1) by Karina Cooper

The St. Croix Chronicles series by Karina Cooper

✮ Newest Release: Transmuted #6 (Jan 20, 2015) — Final Book

Genres and Sub-GenresEdit

Historical Urban Fantasy / Steampunk

Series Description or Overview Edit

My name is Cherry St. Croix. Society would claim that I am a well-heeled miss with an unfortunate familial reputation. They've no idea of the truth of it. In my secret world, I hunt down vagrants, thieves . . . and now, a murderer. For a monster stalks London's streets, leaving a trail of mystery and murder below the fog.

Eager for coin to fuel my infatuations, I must decide where my attentions will turn: to my daylight world, where my scientific mind sets me apart from respectable Society, or to the compelling domain of London below. Each has a man who has claimed my time as his - for good or for ill. Though as the corpses pile, and the treacherous waters of Society gossip churn, I am learning that each also has its dangers. One choice will see me cast from polite company . . . the other might just see me dead. ~ Tarnished (St. Croix Chronicles, book 1) by Karina Cooper

Lead's Species Edit

  • Collector (bounty hunter), adopted daughter of a rich mad scientist

Primary Supe Edit

  • Mages

What Sets it ApartEdit

Narrative Type and Narrators Edit

  • First Person narrative told by Cherry St. Croix.

Books in Series Edit

St. Croix Chronicles:

  1. Tarnished (2012)
  2. Gilded (2012)
  3. Corroded (2013)
  4. Tempered (2014)
  5. Engraved (Aug 2014)
  6. Transmuted (Jan 20, 2015) ~ Final

Shorts, Novellas, Anthologies and Guides Edit

  • 0.5. The Mysterious Case of Mr. Strangeway (2013)

World Building Edit

Setting Edit

  • Alternate Victorian London, a city enveloped in a thick, smoky drift of fog

Places:

  • Midnight Menagerie: part circus, part park, a bit fair ground with Exotic animals and creatures, prostitutes, Masquerades, drinking wells, dance halls—all fell under the domain of the Karakash Veil.
  • Thames Tunnel:
  • West India Docks
  • Wapping
  • Limehouse:
  • China:

Supernatural Elements Edit

  • Bounty Hunter, Magic, Alchemy, mad scientist, strange symbols, ghosts, spells, supe-mafia, ,
  • Steampunk Elements: Airships, steam-driven gondolas,

Glossary: Edit

  • Collector: a bounty hunter—who hunts down her targets in dark, fog-choked alleys below the drift
  • Midnight sweets: prostitutes

Groups & Organizations:Edit

  • Karakash Veil: a mysterious, Mafia-like organization—controls the dark side of London; run by Chinese immigrants and is headquartered in an area of London called the Midnight Menagerie—Cherry gets indebted to them;

World Edit

✤ The series is set in an alternate Victorian London, a city enveloped in a thick, smoky drift of fog. When the rich complained about the black smoke and the suffocating fog, Parliament debated whether to relocate London or force the factories to move. Eventually, they came up with a third solution. "The end result was the cleaving of London's well-to-do from its poor, its immigrants and those who couldn't maintain appearances. Historical buildings and those belonging to the peerage were raised by mighty steel stilts, cranked high by accordion girders and leaving channels between districts spanned by attractive walking bridges. It was as if select bits of London now hovered like mountain peaks amidst a sea of fog." (Tarnished, p. 17) The upper classes live, of course, in the clean air above the fog drift, and the lower classes cough their lungs out below the drift (i.e., within the fog). "The fog that filled the streets of London was blindingly thick, laced in black coal and yellow filth, painted in eerie shades by the gas lamps struggling to pierce the gloom." (Corroded, chapter 1)

Airships transport people between the two levels when necessary. This is a steampunk novel, to be sure, but the primary steampunk detail is the concept of various types of airships, including steam-driven gondolas that move the rich from one mansion to another along canals of pure, fog-free air.

As is frequently the case in urban fantasies, a mysterious, Mafia-like organization—the Karakash Veil—controls the dark side of London. The Veil is run by Chinese immigrants and is headquartered in an area of London called the Midnight Menagerie. Here is Cherry's description: "One part circus, one part park, one bit fair ground and all elaborate....Exotic animals and strange foreign creatures from around the world....Midnight sweets [aka prostitutes], ripe for the taking and skilled in the art of love-making. Masquerades, drinking wells, elaborate dance halls...all of this and more fell under the domain of the Karakash Veil." (Tarnished, p. 82) The Menagerie's ringmaster and all-around boss is the tall, dark, and dangerous Micajah (Cage) Hawke. ~ Fang-fiction

Protagonist Edit

✥ The series heroine is a 20-year-old red-headed beauty who leads a double life. By day, she is Cherry St. Croix (aka Miss Black), the orphaned ward of a wealthy guardian, living in a fashionable neighborhood above the drift. By night, she is Miss Black, a collector—a bounty hunter—who hunts down her targets in dark, fog-choked alleys below the drift. In this world, if people need to hire a collector to find a thing or person, they post a note on the collector's wall in an abandoned railway station describing what or who needs to be found and collected, the amount of the reward, and the destination for the recovery. Although there are many collectors, Cherry is the only one who is a female.

Cherry is known to society as the daughter of Mad Abraham St. Croix, an eccentric scientist who died with Cherry's mother in a fire in their home in Scotland when Cherry was a child. After her parents' death, Cherry was placed in a horrible orphanage that kept its inmates calm by dosing them with laudanum. Over the years, Cherry became addicted to opiates, and she still has trouble sleeping without a swig of laudanum to send her off to dreamland.

As the series opens, Cherry stays away from the Menagerie's circus because she has horrible, opium-fuzzy memories of her years as a forced performer in another circus—the one to which the orphanage owners sold her. She was rescued from that circus by Mr. Oliver Ashmore, her guardian, who had been trying to track her down ever since her parents died. Cherry has lived in fear of Ashmore ever since she first met him while she was in the midst of an opium dream and he appeared to her to be a monster. Ashmore is a mysterious, unseen figure until the fourth novel, Tempered. ~ Fang-fiction

✥ During days she is up above the black smog of London among the strange cluster of mansions for rich and privileged, bridges and air gondolas, designed by her father and lifted above the city to escape the contaminated air. During days she is Cherry St.Croix, an unconventional daughter of a mad scientist, forced to behave according to high society standards otherwise her guardian will stop her allowance and her scientific experiments.

At nights, Cherry is a different person. Ms. Black is a collector (as in bounty hunter) in the blackest areas of London, fitted into a black garb with armoured corset, respirator and night vision goggles, she hunts the streets for thieves and those unfortunate indebted to Chinese mafia of Karakash Veil and their dangerous and seductive representative Micajah Hawke. She is a flawed heroine who is driven by her opium addiction acquired as a child, when she grew up as an acrobat in a street circus before her guardian found her. ~ GR reader | Kara

Sidekick Edit

  • Name: / What: / Sidekick-to: / About: / Book First Seen In:

Characters Chart Edit

Characters What About
Cherry St. Croix (aka Miss Black) Collector—a bounty hunter By night, she is Miss Black, a collector—a bounty hunter—who hunts down her targets in dark, fog-choked alleys below the drift
Mr. Oliver Ashmore guardian rescued Cherry from Menagerie's circus
Micajah (Cage) Hawke powerful leader of the Midnight Menagerie refused to pay: claims that she never made the delivery
Lord Helmsley (aka Teddy) friend studying science—not magic—with him;
Abraham St. Croix eccentric scientist Cherry's father; died with Cherry's mother in a fire in their home in Scotland;
Fanny, Mrs. Fanny Fortescue elderly chaperon Cherry's tutor, living under her strict supervision for two years from age 15;
Maddie Ruth Halbard young friend Maddie becomes Cherry's her companion in book 4;
Lord Cornelius Kerrigan Compton wealthy suitor budding relationship in book 2;
Lady Rutledge Lady asked Cherry to play detective, allowed only 5 questions;
Ikenna Osoba #3 nefarious man appears in the Menagerie's circus, and he seems to have as much power as Hawke
Karakash Veil Chinese mafia Xherry gets indebted

To expand the table, in Edit–Visual mode, right-press on a Row of the table (Control-press on a Mac)—choose add Row or Column. Or, in Source Mode: copy-paste rows.

Karina Cooper beach

Karina Cooper

Karina Cooper

Karina Cooper

Karina Cooper Steampunk

Karina Cooper, Steampunk

Karina Cooper gown

Karina Cooper

Author Edit

Karina Cooper

Bio: After writing happily ever afters for all of her friends in school, Karina Cooper eventually grew up (sort of), went to work in the real world (kind of), where she decided that making stuff up was way more fun (true!). She is the author of dark and sexy paranormal romance, steampunk urban fantasy, and writes across multiple genres with mad glee. One part glamour, one part dork and all imagination, Karina is also a gamer, an airship captain’s wife, and a steampunk fashionista. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a husband, a menagerie, a severe coffee habit, and a passel of adopted gamer geeks. Visit her at www.karinacooper.com, because she says so. ~ Goodreads

✤ Karina Cooper couldn't help but be a writer. After writing happily ever afters for all of her friends, she eventually grew up (kind of) and fell in love with paranormal romance. Because, really, who doesn't love hot men and a happy ending?When she isn't writing about murder and mayhem, Karina designs Steampunk and neo-Victorian couture for gentlemen hobbyists and ladies of questionable reputation. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a husband, four cats, one rabbit, the fantasy of a dog and a passel of adopted gamer geeks. She adores hearing from readers. ~ FF

Cover ArtistEdit

Artist: Chris McGrath — books 1 & 2

Publishing InformationEdit

  • Publisher: Avon; Carina Press;
  • Author Page:
  • Bk-1: Paperback, 384 pages, Pub: June 26th 2012—ISBN: 0062127640
  • Bk-2: Paperback, 384 pages, Dec 26th 2012 Pub: —ISBN: 0062127667
  • Bk-3: eBook, 264 pages, Pub: September 23rd 2013—ISBN: 1426896395
  • Bk-4: eBook, ? pages, Pub: February 10th 2014—ISBN: 1306208513
  • Bk-0.5: eShort, 80 pages, Pub: August 5th 2013—ASIN: B00CV30XCY
  • Bk-6: Kindle, January 26th 2015—ASIN B00MTGFAAS

Book Cover Blurbs Edit

BOOK ONE—Tarnished (2012): A choking fog blankets Victorian London—and in a stroke of discriminatory genius, Society has raised London to the sky. My name is Cherry St. Croix. Society would claim that I am a well-heeled miss with an unfortunate familial reputation. They’ve no idea of the truth of it. In my secret world, I hunt down vagrants, thieves… and now, a murderer. For a monster stalks London’s streets, leaving a trail of mystery and murder below the fog. Eager for coin to fuel my infatuations, I must decide where my attentions will turn: To my daylight world, where my scientific mind sets me apart from respectable Society, or to the compelling domain of London below. Each has a man who has claimed my time as his–for good or for ill. Though as the corpses pile, and the treacherous waters of Society gossip churn, I am learning that each also has its dangers. One choice will see me cast from polite company… the other might just see me dead. ~Tarnished (The St. Croix Chronicles #1) | Karina Cooper — Excerpt

BOOK TWO—Gilded (2012): The second book in Karina Cooper's stunning steampunk series featuring fearless heroine Cherry St. Croix, in which she is faced with two men after her heart—and one killer out for her blood. In the gleaming heights of Victorian London, a world of deception awaits an unconventional Society lady whose taste for adventure makes her a most formidable adversary . . . Though Society demands that I make a good marriage, I, Cherry St. Croix, have neither the time nor the interest. I am on the trail of a murder with no victim, a mystery with no motive, and the key to an alchemical formula that could be my family's legacy. Yet the world is not so kind as to let me pursue simple murder and uncomplicated bounties. Above the foggy drift, an earl insists on my attention, while my friends watch my increasingly desperate attempts to remain my own woman. From the silken demands of the Midnight Menagerie—to whose dangerously seductive ringmaster I owe a debt—to the rigorous pressures of the peerage, all are conspiring to place before me a choice that will forever change my life. ~ Goodreads | Gilded (The St. Croix Chronicles, #2) 

✤ BOOK THRE—Corroded (2013): 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 submit—no matter how sweet the sacrifice. Challenging my rival to a race is the only way to end this, no 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. ~ Goodreads

BOOK FOUR—Tempered (2014): Forced out of London's coal-blackened streets, Cherry St. Croix is faced with her most difficult undertaking yet: sobriety. At long last, my guardian, the enigmatic Mr. Oliver Ashmore, has revealed himself—and his order is clear: I am to be dried out at once, regardless of my wishes. I loathe the country estate I am imprisoned within. Footsteps follow me, voices call for me, and my sanity wavers. In my fevered dreams, I am haunted by those I failed, while waking proves no protection from the ghosts of my reckless past. The craving for laudanum plagues me. I require a distraction. To unravel the alchemical mysteries of my mother's family, I must rely on Ashmore's tutelage. I am lured to the art and drawn by the secrets my guardian possesses. Yet the deeper I delve, the more I believe that something dreadful disturbs these haunted corridors. In my madness, I fear that what it wants most...is me. ~ Goodreads

BOOK FIVE—Engraved (Aug 2014): Cherry St. Croix returns to the fog-ridden streets of Victorian London, where the balance of power threatens all that she loves. I will not wither without laudanum. Sober and determined, I have chosen another way—alchemy, and the pursuit of wellness it embodies. My name is Cherry St. Croix, and though freedom is finally at my fingertips, I return to the blackened streets intent on righting the wrongs I’d left behind. All is not well in London low. Caught in a war between gangs, men are torn limb from limb, and I am called on to ascertain how. The immoral Karakash Veil is no doubt involved, and Micajah Hawke, a prisoner in his own Menagerie, cannot soften the danger this time. Armed with the alchemical arts I have learned, my ever present guardian, and what few friends are left to me, I embark on a campaign to rescue the ringmaster I cannot abandon, save the Brick Street Bakers from annihilation, and finally face that which frightens me the most—my own heart. Author's site

BOOK SIX—Transmuted (Jan 26, 2015): In this final installment of Cherry St. Croix's adventures, only one thing could compel the disgraced countess to return to Society—the threat of immortality. All is not peaceful in the wake of the Midnight Menagerie's ruin. Although the Karakash Veil has been forced to flee its stronghold, the mysterious head of the criminal organization is not content to fade away. Above the foggy drift, a priceless diamond vanishes. In the dangerous Underground, a murderous rampage demands retribution. The hunt for the mastermind behind these misdeeds sends me back to Society—and into the unforgiving embrace of the world I'd left behind. Nothing is what it seems. Enemies, allies—and a man who struggles with a nature even devotion cannot tame. Torn between the scars of the past and fragile new beginnings, I must create balance in the world I have chosen—and with the people I have come to love. The game has changed; should the Veil achieve the immortality it craves, I will have nowhere left to run. ~ Goodreads | Transmuted (The St. Croix Chronicles, #6) by Karina Cooper

First Sentences Edit

  1. Tarnished (2012) — I was nine years old when I picked my first pocket.
  2. Gilded (2012) — When I was ten years of age, Monsieur Marceau's traveling Circus retained a new Magician.
  3. Corroded (2013) — A fortnight after my husband was murdered, I exhibited a severe allergy to sobriety.
  4. Tempered (2014) — I shall never forget the moment I first laid eyes upon the estate that would contrive to take my life.
  5. Engraved (Aug 2014) — I was nine years old when I picked my first pocket.
  6. Transmuted (Jan 20, 2015) — There comes a time in every young lady's life when she must examine what is expected of her, scrutinize her station and breeding, and choose of those matters the intentions she would pursue.

Quotes Edit

There comes a time in every young lady's life when she must examine what is expected of her, scrutinize her station and breeding, and choose of those matters the intentions she would pursue. For many of my contemporaries, this path would lead to wedlock, motherhood and the inevitable pursuit of matronly pastimes. I had already, if rather contemptuously, trod upon the concept of marriage. I had no lingering inclination for motherhood, not had I the patience of a matron's recreations. What I had was a thin blade held to the gut of a thief who'd stolen into my bedchamber in the dead of night. And pistol tucked against my temple. — Cherry

Trivia  Edit

Read Alikes (suggestions) Edit

Steampunk (onsite pages):

Alchemy and Alchemists

Set in London or Britain

Addicts in lead:

Mad Scientists

Historical UF:

Alternate History UF

Awards Edit

  • BOOK ONE—Tarnished (2012) — RT Book Reviews Reviewer's Choice Award: Best Steampunk Novel of 2012.

Notes Edit

Cherry's favorite expressions is "Allez, hop," which she cries out as she performs various acrobatic maneuvers. Here, she is edging up onto the roof of a building: "'Allez, hop!' I muttered, and bent backward almost double until my feet touched the rooftop." (p. 136) Click HERE for a definition of that term

See Also Edit

Category links at bottom of page

External References Edit

Books:

Excerpts and Freebies:

Summaries, Articles:

World, Characters, etc:

Reviews:

Interviews, Guest Posts, Author Commentary:

Author:

Community, Fan Sites:

Gallery of Book Covers Edit

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