Taking place after Wicked as They Come, this original eBook features a mysterious lady and a reclusive mechanical genius who find love and danger in a traveling circus. An elusive woman arrives at Criminy’s doorstep with a steamer trunk, begging for a position in the caravan to perform her unique new act. She opens her trunk to reveal a menagerie of brilliantly colored butterflies. The woman, who calls herself Madam Morpho, is on the run from a dark past in London, where she was forced to leave her equipment behind and abscond with only her tiny performers. Playing a hunch, Criminy hires Madam Morpho on the spot. Taking her down to meet Mr. Murdoch, the reclusive talented engineer who keeps the carnival’s clockworks running, Criminy instructs them to work together to design and build a groundbreaking new circus for the butterflies. Amid the magical ambiance of the circus and the hint of danger from Madam Morpho’s pursuers, she and Mr. Murdoch soon find that their scientific collaboration has produced chemistry of a more romantic kind.
This is a novella taking place in the world of Sang, a place where all animals are “blud” creatures, meaning they are basically vampires. Those that didn’t evolve into bluds, from my understanding, went extinct. This story does take place after the events in Wicked as They Come (Blud) but I do not believe it necessary to read that first. Though there will be some things spoiled, it wouldn’t ruin the story.
I didn’t realize how much I could miss a fictional land until I read Morpho. I mean, vicious killer bunnies and steam punk, what’s not to love? Ms. Dawson does a wonderful job with world building, as I can picture the carnival, the clock-work creatures, and the fantastic clothing worn by everyone.
Madam Morpho is running from something, and it is revealed, bit by painful bit, that she has had nothing but horrendous things happen to her. But talk about turning lemons into freaking lemonade, I would have not turned out half as good and smart as she did. Though her spunk is believable.
And the love story aspect – though it moves fast (it is a novella after all) it is SO SWEET. Morpho and Murdoch sitting in a tree … f-u-c … well, you get the picture. I love me a hot recluse. There is something about getting a man to tell you all his secrets that gets me all hot and bothered. And apparently Madam Morpho feels the same way.
While I found the ending rather predictable, it really couldn’t (and shouldn’t!) have ended any other way. Of course, those of us that know and love Criminy know he takes care of his own. I give the whole thing a good 4 baskets. Keep reading for an original Sang fairytale by the lovely Delilah Dawson herself!
Merrily and the Wolf, a Sangish Folk Tale
Once upon a time, there was a world called Sang where pretty much everything ran on blood. The smart girls stayed in their beds all night with their feet tucked up under the covers. They most certainly didn’t creep down the stairs and out the back door into the alley with nothing but a long, red cloak to keep the scent of their skin from carrying on the crisp midnight air.
But one girl did. Her name was Merrily, and she had an important errand to run. As she hurried past, hungry eyes glowed from behind rubbish bins, followed by angry hisses and the skittering of empty claws. But the bludrats couldn’t touch her—not with the dog by her side.
Merrily had been a good girl before now, never venturing into the dangerous streets alone, especially at night. But then, last week, she had woken from tangled dreams to the plaintive sound of scratching at the back door. Looking down from her window, she had seen an impossible shape. There were no dogs in her section of London; only in the wealthy parts, and only breeds that could be carried in the arms of their mistresses, high above the dangers of the cobblestones. And yet there it was, big and gray and curled over, plumed tail between its legs. As if sensing her soft eyes on its back, the dog had looked up at her window and whined, and her heart had melted like a bit of honey candy left out in the rain.
She had gone to the door. Opened it. Followed the limping creature.
Just as she had tonight.
A left, a right, a quick dart across the road when the Copper’s back was turned. Into Darkside, where the air was noticeably cooler, a touch damp with perpetual fog. Although she’d never been there before last week, now she knew the way by heart. An archway of blood-painted stones led her down Ruby Lane, past daimons and witches and the things her mother had always warned her about. Merrily didn’t let worry stop her. She was close, and her slippers whispered faster across the slimy cobbles as the dog
picked up speed.
The hairs rose on her neck when the dog darted into the crevice between two tall, leaning buildings, a space that seemed barely wide enough even for a young girl like herself. But she knew her basket would fit through, and that was the important part. From deep in the shadows, the dog whined anxiously as the puppies took up their hungry yipping.
“I’m here, Wulfie,” she murmured, smiling as she turned sideways to edge into the darkness, her red cape catching on the bricks. “I brought good meat, this time.”
Wulfie’s whine sounded again, and Merrily’s brow wrinkled. She had followed the injured dog to Darkside that first night and delighted at the three squirming pups nestled in a bed of crumpled newspapers, snuggling them and touching their soft ears and dainty paws. Since then, she’d brought meat here every night, hoping what little she could scrape from her plate would help the skin-and-bones dog feed her teeny puppies. But a strange smell reached her over the alley’s rot—a man’s cologne mixed with pipe smoke. And the whine had been altogether too high up. Maybe Wulfie had moved the pups off the ground, onto a crate?
A low, sinister chuckle echoed down the narrow alley, and she spun to run away, her belly heavy and cold with fear. The growl near her feet was a sound she hadn’t heard from Wulfie yet, but the gray dog’s head was down, blocking the exit with black lips pulled back over fangs. Merrily gasped and stumbled back, and a hand landed on her shoulder, another on her arm, steadying her and pulling her deeper into the darkness.
“Her name isn’t Wulfie—it’s Lillian. And she told me she was bringing fresh meat, but she neglected to mention how very fresh it was going to be.”
Merrily’s gasp was loud in the night as she shoved the basket at the man, who now stood far too near. “Take it. It’s tomorrow’s beef. Just let me go.” She tugged her arm, but the man’s hand was firm, his nails digging into her like claws. “Please. My name is Merrily.”
The dog pressed warm against the back of her legs, letting out a wolfish chuckle as the man leaned close to Merrily’s ear, tugging her hood away. Coarse fur brushed her cheek, and she shuddered at the hot reek of fetid breath.
“Your name is Mutton,” he whispered, “and my family thanks you for your kindness.”
Before she could respond, his teeth found her throat. The red cloak fell to the floor, a plaything for the wolf man’s children.
*Shudders* Ccan she spin a tale or what? Of course don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Wicked as She Wants, set to be released April 30, 2013. I have made it easy by providing links to all 3 right here!