The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

‘This newspaper has taken note that the past month has been remarkable for the prevalence of cases where men, women and children are declared missing. Scarcely a week passes without the occurrence of an incident of this type’

The Morning Herald, Tuesday 13 September 1831

The Wicked Cometh cover image

Following the death of her parents, Hester White has fallen from her comfortable Lincolnshire upbringing to scratching a living in a poverty stricken corner of 19th Century London. After a chance meeting with the charismatic Calder Brock Hester jumps at the chance to escape the drudgery of her existence and embark on a new life.

Whisked away to a fine house and placed under the tutelage of Calder’s sister Rebekah, Hester soon finds herself embroiled in a gruesome mystery that threatens to reveal long buried secrets that some will go to any lengths to keep hidden. Hester and Rebekah forge a fierce alliance to bring a resolution to the horror they have discovered, but find themselves in far greater danger than they possibly could have prepared for.

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I wanted to love this book, I really did. The blurb sounded just up my street, and had me really excited to read it. What I found once I began reading though was a little gem of a story, or in fact perhaps even two stories, that were too wrapped up in unnecessary exposition and a few too many convenient plot points.

There was a lot of good stuff in The Wicked Cometh. I found Hester to be a charming protagonist, with a well-developed and interesting character. The language of the prose was flowing and engaging, and felt very authentic, and the mid-section of the book, when the mystery starts to heat up, was just the right pacing, and really drew me in. Unfortunately I found the beginning of the story a little too meandering and and the end too contrived for my tastes.

As a debut, I think this novel shows a lot of promise; I enjoyed Laura Carlin’s writing style very much. I just felt that there were two threads in this book (the mystery of the missing people, and the relationship between Hester and Rebekah) which didn’t sit particularly comfortably in the same space, and therefore the resolution to the whole tale was too forced, stretching my credulity that bit too far.

So the circle is closed; the merchants have become the goods.

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