WILD AND WICKED THINGS
BY FRANCESCA MAY
Thank you to Redhook for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review!
Trigger warnings: blood magic, abuse by a parental figure, raped (not outright mentioned but implied) and murder
In the aftermath of World War I, a naive woman is swept into a glittering world filled with dark magic, romance, and murder in this lush and decadent debut.
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 neighbor.
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.
Wild and Wicked Things is a sapphic and witchy Great Gatsby retelling set against a hauntingly dark and gothic backdrop. The writing was absolutely beautiful and heavy on descriptions, which I really enjoyed. The setting of this small island with it’s mist shrouded and weird little town was the cherry on top. While it did fall a tad short for me, I still really enjoyed it.
The story follows Annie who has to journey to Crow Island after the death of her father and reconnect with her childhood best friend. It’s there that she meets her mysterious yet intriguing neighbor Emmeline (obsessed with this name!) who sweeps her into a world full of magic, hidden loves, blood debts and murder. Very Gatsby-esque and full of everything we admire about the 1920’s with a dash of sappic.
While the story is supposed to really be about Annie, for me it was Emmeline that stole the show. She was just so effervescent and eccentric. I might be harboring a tiny crush. Might. The side characters were actually all amazing, so fully developed with their own characters arcs. May really knows how to write people and I loved learning about all their stories and motivations. Everyone had a journey they were on and we got to see that change them.
While an amazing book pitch, there were a few things that I just could get past. The pacing of this story was so so slow and there were a few times that I put it down for a few days before remembering I needed to finish it so I could review it. I love a slow book, but the payoff just wasn’t here for this one. My other complaint is the world-building was lacking. I’m a huge fan of world-building (duh it’s important), because I love watching a new world unfold in front of me. I still have so many questions here though and I felt like they were things critical to the plot, like how a blood debt works, that I should be able to explain but find myself coming up short.
Overall I was enthralled by the 1920’s glitz and glam aesthetic and the magic of it all. While it did have it’s shortcomings, I still really enjoyed it. The gothic gay vibes were immaculate and if you’re looking for your next witchy sapphic book, look no further.