Book Review: The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

The Wicked ComethAbout the Book

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 . . .

Format: ebook, hardcover(352 pp.)  Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: 1st February 2018             Genre: Historical Fiction

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My Review

Following a narrow escape from under the wheels of a carriage, Hester is taken under the wing of a handsome young surgeon, Calder Brock, who, in an echo of Pygmalion, sets out to prove that the poor are capable of education.  Hester finds herself drawn to Calder’s sister, Rebekah, who is charged with her tuition.  Soon Hester becomes eager for any excuse to be in Rebekah’s presence, daring to hope that her own feelings might be returned.   ‘Then something changes – the meeting of a kindred spirit, the potency of mutual trust – and the tender graces of self-belief once more visit themselves upon us and we are as complete as ever we may be.’

The author concentrates on building up the atmosphere of the period and the various locations in the first half of the book.   The writing conjures up the sights, sounds and smells of the seedier parts of London: dank cellars, dark alleyways, mire-strewn streets, secret thoroughfares used for illicit purposes.

The pace of the story really picks up in the second half as Rebekah and Hester embark on their investigation into the disappearances, risking everything as they enter the realm of individuals who have few scruples in dealing with those who get in their way.  Soon they are in parts of London without light both literally and metaphorically. ‘Dark with the business of the people who live here.  Dark with the deeds that are done.’  With the benefit of historical hindsight, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on so the interest was mainly in watching Hester and Rebekah feel their way slowly towards the shocking truth.

I enjoyed The Wicked Cometh and thought it was an assured debut.  I admired the writing and the way the author skilfully evoked the atmosphere of the dark underbelly of London.  There were also some intriguing plot elements revealed at the end.  I’ll confess I was left with the slight sense at the end that I’d read it all before in other books (admittedly a bit of an occupational hazard if, like me, you read a lot of historical fiction).  However, I would definitely look out for further books from this author.

I received an advance reader copy courtesy of NetGalley and publishers Hodder & Stoughton in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Atmospheric, Gothic, mystery

Try something similar…The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh (click here to read my review)

Laura CarlinAbout the Author

Laura Carlin left school at 16 to work in retail banking and it was only after leaving her job to write full-time that she discovered her passion for storytelling and exploring pockets of history through fiction. She lives in a book-filled house in beautiful rural Derbyshire with her family and a Siamese cat called Antigone. When she’s not writing she enjoys walking in the surrounding Peak District. The Wicked Cometh is Laura Carlin’s first novel.

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

  1. This ticks a lot of boxes for me, so I went straight to Amazon! Alas, to find that it’s a fiver, which I feel is a bit much for a Kindle book unless a tried and tested author, and it’s not available on Kindle Unlimited. The reviews are a bit iffy, too. So I failed to click ‘buy’.

    Incidentally, if you like extremely well-written and researched books of this period, about the darker side of London, you could try Carol Hedges’ mid-Victorian murder mysteries. I am not a great fan of the murder mystery, but I adore her books because the atmosphere and characterisation is wonderful; they’re real ‘page turners’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I must agree with you about the price – perhaps it will come up on a deal. I just checked, though, and it is still available to request on NetGalley, if you’re a member.

      I have seen mention of Carol’s books so I’ll take a look. Thanks for the recommendation.


  2. Great review! I was curious about this one but didn’t request it in the end as it sounded similar to a lot of other novels I’d read recently. Love that cover though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first half seemed to me about building up the characters and the second about the resolution of the mystery. I guess, to be fair, it wouldn’t work the other way around. I just found the first part a little slow. The ‘wicked’ took a bit of time to ‘cometh’ 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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