When Blud princess Ahnastasia wakes up, drained and starving in a suitcase, she’s not sure which calls to her more: the sound of music or the scent of blood. The source of both sensations is a handsome and mysterious man named Casper Sterling. Once the most celebrated musician in London, Sangland, he’s fallen on hard times. Now, much to Ahna’s frustration, the debauched and reckless human is her only ticket back home to the snow-rimmed and magical land of Freesia.
Together with Casper’s prickly charge, a scrappy orphan named Keen, they seek passage to Ahna’s homeland, where a power-hungry sorceress named Ravenna holds the royal family in thrall. Traveling from the back alleys of London to the sparkling minarets of Muscovy, Ahna discovers that Freesia holds new perils and dangerous foes. Back in her country, she is forced to choose between the heart she never knew she had and the land that she was born to rule. But with Casper’s help, Ahna may find a way to have it all…
Delilah S. Dawson has done it once again. She has created a world that is filled with excitement and misery and I can see the world of Sang better than I think I have ever seen any written world. This world is so real, that I find myself asking myself questions about how certain things in this world would translate into Sang.
Wicked as She Wants tells the story of Casper and Ahnastasia. We met Casper in the first book in the series, Wicked as They Come. He is the musician in Criminy Stain’s Carnival who has also come to the world of Sang as a Stranger. He has devoted his life in Sang to drinking, womanizing, and performing, not particularly in that order. He has pretty much hit rock bottom and is paying for his choices now, while trying to hide his own personal demons from those he cares about. Due to his loss of status in the music world, he is reduced to performing in the lowest of venues. As the story goes on, we see a softer, more protective side to Casper that we did not see previously.
Ahnastasia is a spoiled princess who was kidnapped, drained, stuffed in a suitcase and shipped all over the place. She comes from Freesia, where there was a recent uprising and her family was removed from the throne by the beautiful but evil Ravenna. She grows from a hateful, manipulative brat, into someone you wouldn’t mind seeing succeed.
When Casper finds Ahna in a suitcase, she totally sees him as food. Eventually she convinces him to help her to return to Freesia and retake her throne. She must learn to hide who she is because there are still people out to kill her. She must learn to work with Casper and his friend Keen, who I happen to love to pieces. As they travel across the continent from London to Freesia, they encounter all sorts of excitement. From Flying Brothels, to pirates, to a freaking unicorn, there is something new around every turn. The romance is there, but in an underlying way which makes it even hotter. It’s not a main theme, so it doesn’t take away from the point of the story.
I love that in some ways this story is similar to the historical events that took place with the fall of the Romanov’s. Ravenna is obviously the equivalent of Rasputin. To me, the fall of the Romanov family is probably the most fascinating and intriguing happenings in Russian history. It is probably the only one that I ever really paid any attention to, so I was excited to see the parallels.
The addition of Keen to this story was a great idea. We don’t learn a lot about her, but we learn enough to get the reader truly interested in her story. She is a teenager living on the streets of Sang with tons of streetsmarts, which Casper feels the need to take in and protect. She is cynical and snarky and I just love her. She has a spark in her that really makes her seem like a typical teenager. She has had a hard existence since coming to London. She is definitely a survivor and repeatedly shows how strong she is. She also has an innocence to her that is almost heartbreaking to see, but at the same time it reminds you that she is still a teenager.
This book is seriously awesome and full of adventure. If I was forced to say at least something I didn’t like about it, it would only be that Criminy Stain only makes a brief appearance. But it’s not his story, and we all know he would steal the show if he was a main character. I also would really like to know more of Casper and Keene’s back stories. I am a sucker for knowing all the details of why a character is the way they are.
I recommend this book to anyone who liked Wicked as They Come, or is looking for a good adventure with bits of romance. I think it could be read as a standalone, but don’t cheat yourself by skipping the first book. They are both fabulous.