The fabulous Wicked As She Wants, book two in the extraordinary Blud series, grabs the reader by the throat in its first paragraph and does not let go until the very last word. Princess Ahnastastia Feodor of Freesia finds herself at a distinct disadvantage when she awakens to music and the heady scent of blood yet unable to move. Using her extra-long talons to tear a hole in the leather of the case enclosing her, the starving Blud princess attacks her prey while he plays a harpsichord. Unfortunately for Ahnastasia, the man proves a bit more difficult to catch than she expects, and he smacks her with a bottle.
Suffering the additional indignity of passing out, Ahna comes to being fed vials of blood and learns that four years ago, she was declared dead after being kidnapped. Sadly, Ahna also learns from Casper, the musician she attacked, that her parents were recently executed by the gypsy, Ravenna, who has taken over the throne. Ahna decides that she may indeed be able to use the inferior but nonetheless interesting Casper for her own ends, so she pitches a deal to him: he will help her get back home to Freesia and depose Ravenna prior to a ceremony that will place her more firmly in power, and in exchange, he will become court musician. Though he knows that the proposed deal lacks much in the way of reward for him and involves a lot of risk, Casper ultimately agrees.
After donning a disguise, Ahna begins the long, perilous journey with Casper and his friend, Keen, to take back her homeland and claim her birthright, learning the hard way that many things are not what they seem, and that danger lurks around most every corner.
Once again, Dawson depicts a world both fantastical in its origin and scope yet gritty and realistic in its execution. Readers may at first wonder if they picked up the wrong book, as the first chapter evokes the atmosphere of a horror novel in many respects. This time, we experience the richly-imagined world of Sang from the point of view of one of the predators who belongs there, resulting in a more visceral narrative. The author demonstrates her wit through both the alternate history approach of the tale (where place and people names are just a bit different) to the strokes of underlying humor she applies so deftly. Though on the first page it may seem doubtful that Ahna will manage to earn sympathetic protagonist status, she does so convincingly and gets aided throughout this terrific novel by several quirky and beguiling characters.
Receiving this reviewer’s highest recommendation, Wicked As She Wants should please readers of a number of genres: paranormal romance, urban fantasy, steampunk, and yes, even horror. The wait for book three, Wicked After Midnight, will be much too long.
- Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Pocket Books (April 30, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1451657900
- ISBN-13: 978-978-1451657906