Generally, I hate winter. But this December cannot come soon enough because the second installment in Karina Cooper’s new St. Croix Chronicles series hits shelves and it already feels like I’ve spent centuries waiting to get my hands on Gilded. I read Tarnished (and Dished about it with RT's Regina), the series debut, last month and was completely blown away by Cooper’s highly satisfying steampunk tale. The story didn’t exactly end with a cliffhanger, but it did leave a few unfinished plot lines that I’m hoping will continue with Gilded. Luckily for me Christmas has come early with Gilded’s recent cover reveal, which will hopefully tide me over for the next few months.
Tarnished introduced readers to Cherry St. Croix, a young woman living in an alternate Victorian London, which is separated into two parts: gritty, crime-filled London below and London above, which was home to Society’s elite. While with her chaperone in London above, Cherry is a well-behaved miss (okay, maybe 75% of the time), but when she dons her goggles and tool belt and travels to London below, she’s known as a bounty hunter who never fails to collect and deliver. When Cherry agrees to help hunt down a murderer responsible for offing prostitutes, she becomes mixed up in a harrowing scheme involving a mad scientist, reanimated bodies and an assortment of London below’s vagabonds and delinquents. And of course, she must keep all of this from her chaperone, guardian and friends up above.
The first Cherry St. Croix novel left me with many questions: Why did one of Cherry’s love interests, Lord Compton, suddenly run off? Will anything happen between Cherry and the mysterious ringleader of the Midnight Menajerie, Micajah Hawke? Will Cherry overcome her opium addiction? And most importantly, will see more of Cherry’s best friend (and my favorite Tarnished character aside from Cherry herself), Teddy?
The cover of Gilded doesn’t exactly provide many clues for answering these questions, but when I first glanced at it, my first thought was “Is that a wedding dress?” Surely Cherry, who is hardly experienced when it comes to men and often times seems like anything but a proper Victorian lady, can’t be getting married so soon. I doubt Cherry would willingly be tying the knot in book two, but after the surprises in Tarnished, I’m not exactly sure what I can expect from Gilded.
The cover, with its icy blue color scheme, is strikingly similar to Tarnished. Although this time around Cherry looks slightly younger, she’s decked out in her usual steampunk gear and her trademark red locks make an appearance. What I especially love about the covers in this series so far is that Cherry’s apparel shows off both of her sides, which she’s constantly switching between in the first book; you get the classy Cherry of London above with the pure, white corset and shawl, and the down-and-dirty London "below" Cherry with her leather tool belt and messy hairdo. The cover is complete with the familiar gritty background of London below and is adorned with splashes of black, emphasizing Cherry’s dirty work as a bounty hunter.
The eye-catching cover of Gilded has me eager to crack open book two of Cherry’s story. Have you read Tarnished? What do you think of Gilded’s cover? Let me know in the comments!