Rec a Series is a monthly post highlighting one of my favorite series, past or present. I like alternating between newer and older series, so for March I’ll go with the sexy, dangerous, and cunning bludmen of Delilah Dawson’s world of Sang. There’s no doubt that Criminy Stain is the star of the Blud series, even when he’s not in the books (okay, that may just be me, but…mmmm, Criminy), but the others are almost as interesting. Not quite, but almost.
The Blud Series
by Delilah Dawson
I read these books slightly out of print order but not out of chronological order. You see, I’d purchased Three Slices for the Miriam Black story (will highlight this series later) but hadn’t read anything by the other two authors in the anthology. I went on to devour everything by them later. That little anthology is a menace. But I digress. I started reading “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys” simply because of the title. I mean, really…isn’t that an amazing title? I later discovered this was actually a great story to start with as chronologically it is a direct prequel to Wicked As They Come. The story was about one Mr. Criminy Stain, a magician of some skill in a traveling carnival. He was also a bludman.
Dawson’s series is set in Sang, a Steampunk mirror universe of our Earth. It’s like a fuzzy reflection: some things are familiar but others are a bit warped or changed slightly. There is a country similar to France and it even sees the birth of the can-can, but it’s called Francia. Valentine’s Day has similar origins but with a more gruesome result. So similar, yet not.
The bludmen are Dawson’s vampires. They are a separate species (they have babies as well as the occasional turning) and they aren’t restricted to just humans. There are the terrifying bludstags, the vicious and dangerous bludmares, and the nasty swarms of bludbunnies (but no bludded birds because…no teeth?). The humans of Sangland—their England—treat the bludmen as lesser-classed citizens to be feared and despised in equal measure. Goods are bought with coins, barter, or blood (see the difference?).
The series follows the members of Criminy Stain’s Clockwork Caravan, starting with Criminy Stain himself and coming full circle to end with him as well. It gives a lovely bit of worldbuilding, highlighting the differences between our world and Sang, sometimes as told from the points of view of Strangers, those who’ve crossed between the two. While none of the books are bad, I of course, have my favorites. The first is Wicked As They Come, because…dayum Criminy. He’s gorgeous and sexy and cruel and a bit frightening but…gimme, gimme, gimme. Another is The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance. While it’s only superficially connected to Criminy’s circus through Caspar Sterling, the main characters are lovely and do pop in again later.
Least favorite in the series is definitely Wicked After Midnight. Demi Ward had few redeeming characteristics until toward the very end of the book. Her hero, Vale, is much, much too good for her. Of all the stories, novellas, and novels, this one is the weakest in terms of plot holes that made my teeth grind but seems to have one of the better ratings on Amazon. Go figure.
But even with the problematic Wicked After Midnight, I’d highly recommend the Blud series to anyone who loves slightly cruel vampires, a strange world that’s almost like ours, some Steampunk goodness, and adventure enough for a warren of bludbunnies. Do it if only to discover the wonder that is Criminy Stain ♥
The Blud Series –
Number of Books: Seven
- Wicked As They Come
- The Mysterious Madam Morpho (novella)
- The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance (novella)
- The Damsel and the Daggerman (novella)
- Wicked As She Wants
- Wicked After Midnight
- Wicked Ever After
Number of Extras: Six
- Carniepunk: The Three Lives of Lydia: A BLUD Short Story
- Three Slices: Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys (anthology with Kevin Hearne, Chuck Wendig)
- No One Suspects the Tailor (free flash short available online)
- Ravenna and the Huntsman (free flash short available online)
- The Belated Anniversary (free flash short available online)
- My Bluddy Valentine (free flash short available online)