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 includes several elements that I enjoy in a novel: a determined heroine, a suspicious sounding society, and plenty of dark deeds with people going missing, never to be heard of again, and it came as something of a surprise that I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as I expected to.
Starting with the positive, I thought that Hester was a great character, and I loved her determination to improve her situation. Her parents died when she was young, and, with no family willing or able to take her in, she moved to London with her family’s gardener and his wife. There, they struggle, and this educated young lady finds herself living in ever-worsening conditions through no fault of her own. This background gives Hester a brilliant strength of character, and makes her increasingly determined to achieve something better. I loved that she wasn’t intending to wait for some man to improve her situation, but was willing to make her own way in life.
I also loved Carlin’s writing style, and I thought that it was very in keeping with the time in which the novel is set, with a dark, Gothic edge that fits perfectly with the story. Similarly, the mystery element of the novel – the missing people – is well-delivered, particularly as Hester and Rebekah begin to investigate. And I enjoyed this element of the plot, which becomes increasingly dark as they begin to unravel the mystery.
I did, however, find the pace to be a little slow, particularly to begin with, and this is perhaps why I struggled with this novel a little more than I expected to. Additionally, I didn’t like the big reveal. Not in the sense of the outcome, which I did enjoy, but the way in which it was delivered. This is purely personal preference, and I’m sure that others will like it more than I did, but it just wasn’t for me.
The Wicked Cometh will be published on 1 February. Many thanks to the publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this title in advance of its publication. Whilst it wasn’t entirely suited to my tastes, I think that those who enjoy dark, gothic mysteries will like this one.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐