Non 1001 Book Review: The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin
Looking for an engaging historical mystery? Then this may be the book for you. Book Worm shares her thoughts on this recently published mystery novel.
The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin
Published in: 2018
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Find it here: The Wicked Cometh (note this link takes you to Amazon UK)
This ARC was provided by Hodder & Stoughton (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Goodreads: The year is 1831
Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and no one is willing to speak out on behalf of the city’s vulnerable poor as they disappear from the streets.
Out of these shadows comes Hester White, a bright young woman who is desperate to escape the slums by any means possible.
When Hester is thrust into the world of the aristocratic Brock family, she leaps at the chance to improve her station in life under the tutelage of the fiercely intelligent and mysterious Rebekah Brock. But whispers from her past slowly begin to poison her new life and both she and Rebekah are lured into the most sinister of investigations.
Hester and Rebekah find themselves crossing every boundary they’ve ever known in pursuit of truth, redemption and passion. But their trust in each other will be tested as a web of deceit begins to unspool, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking . . .
Book Worm’s Thoughts: I have seen one reviewer subscribe this as “Fingersmith Lite” and I completely agree with that statement. The characters and their motivations may be different but the whole book has the same kind of feel.
I enjoyed the way the book was structured. It opens with a quote from a newspaper about the number of unexplained disappearances in the city of London and it lets us dive straight into the life of street urchin Hester White.
“At three years old, I truly believed that London was the most splendid city in all of Europe and that Mama and Papa’s laughter would never be lost to me. But that was then, and fifteen years is a long time.”
In the beginning, the book proceeds at quite a rapid pace. The protagonist, Hester has left her old life behind and is settling into a new life of luxury when things take a sinister turn. Hester doesn’t know who she can trust and makes a decision that will put her life, and the lives of those she cares about, in danger. As this is a mystery book I can’t really say much about the story line without giving things away but I can tell you which aspects I liked and didn’t like.
First off, I liked many elements of this book. Hester and Rebekah are great characters and it is good to see strong independent women putting the world to rights without the help of men. The setting is atmospheric and the writing is evocative. The mystery fits the time and place as do the actions of minor characters.
I managed to guess part of the mystery but not all of it and I consider that a good thing. I hate books where the reader has no chance of working out who did what (and why) as much as I hate books that say X did Y because…
On the flip side, there were some things I didn’t love. I wasn’t convinced by the romance. Hester’s feelings seemed rushed and to me there was no real development of a romantic relationship. I felt that more time could have been taken to build up the friendship, the trust, and the finally the romance. To me all those elements seemed rushed.
Trigger warning – Cruelty to animals there is a particularly nasty scene involving a dog which could quite easily have been dropped from the story as the crimes already happening were suitably horrific.
The ending: I know some people will love the ending, but personally I would have kept things as they ended in the central narrative. Again, I can’t say too much without giving things away but the ending in the central narrative was more believable and added another level to the story as a whole.
Overall an enjoyable read to pass the time. I would recommend this to those who enjoy a good mystery with an historic setting. My guess is that those who enjoyed Fingersmith will either love this or hate it, and I can see both viewpoints.
Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: The Wicked Cometh
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