Rating: 4 stars
Read: 16 February – 18 February 2019
This was a pleasant surprise.
In short, The Wicked Cometh is a lesbian detective story set in early 1830s London. People are randomly disappearing from the grimy streets of London, and no one can provide a rational explanation for it. Hester White, a poor working-class, who somehow finds her way into the middle-class Brock household, and Rebekah Brock decide to set things right, embarking on a quest to stop these murders.
It’s not often that I find a neo-Victorian novel that I genuinely love. Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres to read, and I’m very picky about my Victorian settings, as authenticity is key to me, but Laura Carlin got it spot on. She captured everything, from etiquette to fashion, so perfectly. It was not necessarily Victorian in style; Carlin did not intimate Victorian writing, but focused more on characterisation and setting.
She managed to stay true to the Victorians whilst adding her own twist to their perception. That was, of course, the lesbian relationship. We all know how the Victorian felt about homosexuality (actually, as I’ve learnt from Ruth Goodman, lesbians were not even acknowledged by society), but Carlin made it seem so natural. It wasn’t forced into the narrative. It was slowly introduced and worked so well within the dynamics of the London Carlin created.
I loved Rebekah. Hester was a really interesting protagonist, don’t get me wrong, but Rebekah stole the show. At first, you got the vibe that she was one of those stuck-up aristocrats, who didn’t care for London’s poor, but Carlin gradually revealed her loving side. Rebekah had a whole other side to her character, and I loved getting to unpick it with every new chapter.
I thought Rebekah’s relationship with Hester very endearing; they were opposites, but found harmony with each other. I honestly didn’t expect it at first, but once I got the first glimpse of a potential relationship, I was totally ready for it. I found myself craving for more scenes between them to see if my suspicions were right.
…and they were SO RIGHT.
Gah, I just really loved this story. I can’t believe it Carlin’s debut novel. The writing was so mesmerising – I found myself itching to pick it up every time I had a moment to spare. I raced through it. There were so many plot twists – you think you’ve solved an issue and then she pulls the rug from right under you. It was so interesting, so engaging, and just down right lovely.
The ending, however, was a little disappointing. That’s why it didn’t get the full five stars. I found the very last chapter and epilogue to be a little unnecessary. I feel like authors are compelled to write happy endings. That shouldn’t be the case. This story would have been more powerful and shocking if Carlin had ended it on a sad note. I can understand why she didn’t do this – out of everyone, they deserved to be happy – but it wasn’t viable. A little far-fetched, maybe?
Nevertheless, a brilliant book that I definitely encourage you to read! It’s the perfect companion for dull weather as it’s so dark and atmospheric! And it’s basically a lesbian alternative to Sherlock Holmes!
Does this sound like your kind of book? Have you already read it? Or anything like it? Let’s discuss it!
Thanks for reading, Lauren X