Review | The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

Title: The Wicked Cometh (2018)
Author: Laura Carlin
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: 1st February 2018
Read: 1st – 6th January 2018
Genre: historical fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

‘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

Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and the city’s vulnerable poor are disappearing 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, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking… (Synopsis from publisher)

“My advice is don’t rely on a man to be on time and don’t trust all what the newspapers write in their dailies.”

The Wicked Cometh marks a departure for me – it’s the first time in quite a while that I’ve chosen to read a book that has no hint of fantasy or magic, and is purely historical fiction, albeit with a generous helping of the Gothic. The Wicked Cometh is the kind of historical fiction I enjoy – it doesn’t sugarcoat or glorify the Victorian age, instead it presents a London that is more about the blood and excrement in the back alleys of the busy thoroughfares than the refined drawing rooms of the elite in society. It proclaims to be “a novel of darkest London” and this book goes to some very dark places indeed, with the book opening with its protagonist, a parson’s daughter, now down-and-out, Hester White, asleep in an outside shed with only the ragged clothes she’s wearing as protection against the cold wind of the night that whistles through the slums in which she lives, a slum from which many people are going missing, with no explanation, or concern raised. What emerges from this less than auspicious start, via the fortuitous happenstance of a carriage accident putting Hester in the path of the aristocratic Brocks, is a story about how far it is possible to rise and fall and what nature of crimes both the upper and under classes commit in everyday life. It concerns the question of the period – can the lower classes be educated and, therefore, have a better “value” in the eyes of the government and society at large? These macrocosmic concerns are, naturally, dealt with through the journey of the novel’s protagonist Hester, as she meets some unsavoury characters along the way, in the slums and drawing rooms alike.

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T5W | Gateway Books To My Favourite Genre

top 5 wednesdayWelcome one, welcome all, to ‘Emma Remembers Top 5 Wednesdays Exists And Decides To Join In’… again. Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s theme is books which are Gateway Books To My Favourite Genre. Now, whenever I do these type of lists, I always seem to end up writing about Fantasy, specifically YA Fantasy so, for the sake of some variety (as I hear it is allegedly the spice of life), I have decided to talk about another of my favourite genres: Classics.

To be quite honest, the entire concept of having a genre as wide-reaching and wide-ranging as, simply, Classics baffles me. Especially since Classics are basically just books we (/someone) decided were important (for whatever reason) and so they remained in the culture and in the book world for years. Basically Someone Deems It Quality + Time Passed Since Publication = Classic. There are contemporary books today that could well become classics in the future, that’s just how it works.

All of this rambling is my way of saying that because the genre is so large and woolly, I understand when people feel they ought to read more classics yet don’t really know which ones to reach for. Maybe they had a bad experience of being forced to read a “classic” at school and so are put off the entire genre? Maybe they think they’re too difficult to read? Maybe they think they take too much time/effort to read, so they’d rather reach for something else. These are all entirely understandable reasons.

But I also know many people who say “oh I wish I read more classics” and then feel at loss as to how to start on that mission. I could go about basically saying “read some Dickens” or “read some Austen” or “read the Brontes” or even “read some Hardy” (if I really hated you)… instead of that I’ve decided to recommend some classics that specifically fall into the Classic Gothic fiction genre. Generally speaking, the Gothic genre is considered to have began in England in the latter half of the 18th century, growing in popularity into the 19th century, and continuing to this very day in fact. Common Gothic tropes include gloomy, decaying settings (i.e. a big scary castle), supernatural beings (an odd ghost or vampire or two), curses (gotta love a cursed mirror), some kind of transgression (oo sexy) etc. etc.

The reason I wish to recommend this genre in particular is that it’s about as far away as possible from the realist novels of the long nineteenth century which are usually taught as classics. Because of this, it would be easy to assume that this is what all classics are like but I assure you that’s not the case! And maybe you might end up finding something that tickles your fancy!

Now I’ve given an introduction that will probably be longer than the post itself… let’s get into the actual books:

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