Title: The Wicked Cometh
Author: Laura Carlin
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
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…
The Wicked Cometh was a mixed bag for me. Firstly, I loved the way this book was written. It evoked a real sense of time and place, and you could imagine being there with Hester as she navigates and lives among the shady characters of murky 1800’s London. The narrative is easy enough to read and the characters are interesting. I liked the element of mystery that hung over the novel, too.
There are some good twists and turns that kept me wanting to read on, with the first part of the story setting the scene really well, transporting me there in my mind. It’s the second half, however, where the action ramps up a bit more, and I was glad of this as I felt some of the story tended to drag things out a bit.
This was the main problem I had with The Wicked Cometh: the pace and the length of time the story spent on certain things instead of advancing the plot as I wanted it to. I should make it clear that I don’t mind a book that has a slower pace, but I felt like this lost its way at times. I think at times there were a little too many characters to keep track of. who I didn’t really care enough about. I found myself losing interest a little as the novel took so long to get anywhere. As the second half of the story approached I did get more into the narrative, and found myself caring more about what happened.
Saying that, I definitely appreciate the really skilled writing in this novel and would recommend it to fans of historical fiction who don’t mind a book that tends to go more ‘around the houses’. However, whatever novel you prefer, Laura Carlin’s writing is sure to fire up the imagination, painting a vivid picture of 19th century London for whoever reads this!
Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.