Delilah Dawson will again delight fans in this second book in her Blud series. She transports us to an alternative world where things are vaguely familiar, yet disturbingly different. I had high expectations for this second book after having read the first one and was not disappointed. Ms. Dawson takes the story of Anastasia, tsarina of Russia, and gives it a whole new twist in this book.
Ahnastasia Feodor is the princess of Freesia or at least she was until she was kidnapped, drained and stuffed in a valise to be disposed of. When she comes to, it is four years after the kidnapping and she is in the presence of a very strange man. All Ahnastasia can think of is getting back to her home and recovering the life she once knew. She needs the help of the man who found her, but she doesn’t think he is worthy of her time. The world has changed in the last four years and not always for the better.
Casper Sterling was once the most sought after musician in Sangland, but now he is lucky to be playing the harpsichord in the most rundown bar in the worst part of London. He doesn’t know what to think when a Bludwoman claws her way out of a suitcase and attacks him. Casper has his own reasons for helping her and for keeping her secret about who she is. He doesn’t expect their journey to Freesia to be quite the adventure it turns out to be.
Ahnastasia must rely on people she once considered food to help her survive. She doesn’t understand their way of life or the disguises she must use in order to travel under the radar. This gets her into some interesting predicaments. Casper has his own secrets that he is keeping from Ahnastasia as they travel with Keen, a young girl Casper has taken under his wing. Watching these two people figure out how to get along and to blend their two very different lifestyles is quite fascinating. Nothing seems to go the way they expect or want it to.
My favorite aspect of the book is the reference to Anastasia and the fall of the Tsar and Tsarina of Russia. The similarities are there and just enough to give a nod to the historical events without being a complete retelling of what happened. This story has a much better ending than the real Anastasia found.
Although this is the second book in the series, you don’t need to have read the first book to understand and enjoy this book. The world in which Ahnastasia and Casper live is unusual, but things are explained as a natural part of telling the story. The main focus is on the relationship between Ahnastasia and Casper and their journey to restore her to her throne.