The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin


The book I read for my book club this month was The Wicked Cometh, the debut novel from Laura Carlin. With events taking place in 19th century London, I was intrigued to uncover the secrets that lie down the murky alleyways and dark underbelly of the city.

In The Wicked Cometh we are introduced to a young woman named Hester White. Hester is a bright woman, who finds herself trapped and vulnerable in the London slums, and is desperate to escape a place where unspeakable acts are taking place. Then, a day arises in which she finds herself in new surroundings, as her involvement in an accident leads her to meet the Brock family, a wealthy family who provide the care she needs to get back on her feet. From something traumatic there is a glimmer of light, and Hester is given an opportunity to improve her life, by becoming closer to this aristocratic family, and finding herself immersed in a new world. I was interested to read on and discover how Hester becomes accustomed to her new life, whilst dark secrets threaten to come to the surface, and she finds herself at the centre of a sinister world, one which is even darker than she ever imagined.

From the opening sentences I was gripped, as we are introduced to life in London in the 1830’s, and this dark and unpleasant aspect of London was vividly depicted, which added atmosphere to Hester’s story as it unfolds. I enjoyed reading about the development of Hester’s relationship with Rebekah Brock, with whom she builds quite a rapport whilst Rebekah acts as her tutor. But whilst she settles within this new life there is a growing sense of unease from within the Brock home and beyond, and there are murmurings amongst the household staff. A maid becoming the latest in a run of people going missing adds to the mystery, and there are questions over Mr Brock, and why Hester has been bought from the slums into their family. The story deals with themes of social class and power and reversals in fortune, as well as uncovering some sinister goings on in the dark underbelly of London, and there are some grisly twists and turns along the way and some moments making for uncomfortable reading. In terms of the pacing of the plot, there were moments where my attention to the story dipped a little, but the chilling atmosphere and intrigue surrounding the secrets that lurk in the darkness was enough to keep my interest as the true extent of the wickedness is unveiled.

The Wicked Cometh is a dark and atmospheric tale that would appeal to fans of historical fiction, as it explores the grisly side of 19th century life, and I was interested to discover that this book was inspired by true historical events and figures, which makes Hester’s story all the more compelling.

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