Wild and Wicked Things | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐
"On Crow Island, people whisper, real magic lurks just below the surface. New to the idyllic summer getaway, Annie Mason is confident those are only rumors. Magic—the kind that leaves soldiers shell shocked and families heartbroken—has been prohibited since the war ended. Now, the closest anyone gets are party tricks designed for the rich and aimless.
Neither real magic nor faux magic interests Annie. 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 fantasy novel by debut author Francesca May.
First and foremost, I would like to thank NetGalley and Redhook Books for giving me the opportunity to review this in advance. Please note that this in on way affects my opinions. Also note that what I read was an ARC, and things may be subject to change for the official release.
Nothing about this novel worked for me, sadly. I didn't find the story or the world to be particularly interesting at best, and not a single character was likable. The only thing I liked about this really was the pretty cover.
Let's just get straight into the details.
I don't have many comments or complaints about the writing besides some spelling mistakes. I will say though that I am never a big fan of when certain chapters are completely italicized since it makes it hard to read. The only other comment I have is that this is told non-chronologically as there are flashbacks.
When this story wasn't being uninteresting, it was a chaotic mess in the form of dangerous magic and dangerous wielders. Warning flags went up for me right in the beginning when it was stated that real magic was cunning and should be stayed away from. Of course, that clearly wasn't going to happen or there would be no story, but that was setting it up for something I knew I wasn't going to particularly like.
I simply just wasn't a fan of the kind of plot that revolves around dangerous magic and its consequences, or the way it was tackled in this. This also turned out to be more of a drama than a fantasy because of the actions of the characters.
The story suffered due to pacing issues and the non-chronological timeline. It took a good chunk of the book for something to actually happen, and once it did, it was unrelenting to a point where things got messy.
And, as more layers were added to the story, the more I found it dragged on for me. It reached so many climaxes that I felt like the story could, and should, have been stopped several times. Honestly, this may have been better if this was half the length it was as this could have benefited from some condensing.
I kept forgetting the fact that this was set post-WWI, which probably isn't a good thing. There were mentions of prohibition and bootlegging, but because this takes place in a rich area, you didn't get a good sense of the times.
This is also set in a time where real magic and the promotion and consumption of it are prohibited. I honestly wasn't the biggest fan of the kind of magic depicted in this. Blood debts are a crucial part of this story, and I didn't particularly like the way it was depicted in this.
Rumour has it that Crow Island was haunted by witches, and I disliked all of them. Absolutely none of the characters had any redeemable qualities except for, oddly enough, the villain of the story. Let's start with our main character, Annie.
First of all, I don't know why she was chosen to be the protagonist because, out of every character, she has the least relevance to what was happening. She very much felt like an outsider trying to force her way into a story that doesn't involve her. Besides that, I simply did not like her. I knew I was going to right from the start when she was described as a boring and meek girl, which was a red flag for me because I knew that she was going to do very questionable things to shift her personality.
And right I was because she became a bit insufferable with the way that she kept messing things up. There was one point in the story, that I will not go into detail about because of spoilers, but she almost crossed a line that shouldn't have been crossed, and I was just done with her.
Our two other main characters would be Emmeline and Bea. Emmeline is a witch who keeps her issues to herself and whose naivety has disastrous results. Bea was someone whose selfish desires and questionable actions also led to disaster. All-in-all, I didn't enjoy reading about either of them either.
As for the side characters, Nathan and Isobel, they were pushed to the side a little too much to the point where they didn't really feel like actual characters. We don't get much time with them nor do we get to learn much about them which was a shame.
There was another side character called Sam, who was technically not a side character because he is already dead. This presented an issue for me because a central part of Annie and Bea's friendship, and of their own characters, depended on someone we don't get to read about aside from vicariously through them. It didn't help develop their characters and relationships at all, rather it held it back.
Finally, we have Arthur, the villain who, ironically enough, was the only character whose actions made the most sense. Was he the best guy ever, no, but he was unwillingly put into a situation and I can't really fault him for going off the rails?
Moving backwards a bit, let's talk about Annie and Em. I couldn't even be happy that this was a sapphic romance because I didn't like the romance. When Annie and Em meet, they describe their connection as a magnetic force that tethers the two together. My issue with that is that it made their connection feel contrived. My other issue with their relationship was that there was so much back and forth with them that I didn't believe for one second that they had genuine feelings for each other.
This was not the book for me. I don't really have anything to recommend instead either because I usually don't read a lot of books involving dangerous magic.