ARC Book Review: WILD AND WICKED THINGS by Francesca May

I received an ARC from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in white on black with gold shilloutette of smoker and a wird
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: Standalone

Synopsis:

Book cover for WILD AND WICKED THINGS: title in white on black with gold decorative elements

On Crow Island, people whisper, real magic lurks just below the surface. 

Neither real magic nor faux magic interests Annie Mason. Not after it stole her future. She’s only on the island to settle her late father’s estate and, hopefully, reconnect with her long-absent best friend, Beatrice, who fled their dreary lives for a more glamorous one. 

Yet Crow Island is brimming with temptation, and the biggest one may be her enigmatic new neighbour. 

Mysterious and alluring, Emmeline Delacroix is a figure shadowed by rumors of witchcraft. And when Annie witnesses a confrontation between Bea and Emmeline at one of the island’s extravagant parties, she is drawn into a glittering, haunted world. A world where the boundaries of wickedness are tested, and the cost of illicit magic might be death.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

WILD AND WICKED THINGS is a brilliantly written book about dark magic and bargains gone wrong.

I liked that the stakes in this book are not world-shattering. Whatever happens to the three women at the heart of this book will not have an impact on the world as a whole. It certainly will have a profound effect on their lives, though.

I do love world ending stakes, but I also like the deep intimacy of people caught up in deeply personal troubles, because they won’t get any help from the world. No one is cheering them on, hoping that the world will get saved. They face death in secret and obscurity, able only to rely on each other.

The three of them – Annie (MC), Emmeline (secondary POV), and Bea – are bound up by friendship and blood magic gone wrong, and gets progressively worse. There were so many unexpected twists to just how bad it was going to get, which prompted a lot of “oh no.” Being surprised by a plot (but it also being perfectly in line with the characters so feels right) is the best thing in a book.

Also three women at the heart of a book “allowed” to be messy and complicated and very morally grey?! Absolutely brilliant (and these are women who really did feel morally grey to me, unlike many others who have been called that. They are completely willing to bend their morals to achieve their ends. Annie’s suggestion about how to end the curse later on in the book was the perfect example of this.)

This is a 1920s set book, but one of the rare SFF ones (at least of the ones I’ve found) set in the UK. Crow Island is a fictional island set off shore from Whitby, and I really liked the dichotomy of the wealthy island near a region that was far from it. That contrast is made mostly at the start of the book, to highlight the initial discomfort Annie feels when she arrives.

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