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The Wicked Cometh

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The year is 1831

Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and no one is willing to speak out on behalf of the city's vulnerable poor as they disappear 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.

Hester and Rebekah find themselves crossing every boundary they've ever known in pursuit of truth, redemption and passion. But their trust in each other will be tested as a web of deceit begins to unspool, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking . . .

337 pages, Hardcover

First published February 1, 2018

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About the author

Laura Carlin

2 books57 followers
THE WICKED COMETH is Laura Carlin’s first novel. Having left school at 16, she turned to writing after 28 years of working for a local bank. She lives in Derbyshire with her civil partner, two children and a Siamese cat called Antigone.

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5 stars
327 (15%)
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658 (31%)
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765 (36%)
2 stars
271 (12%)
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72 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 452 reviews
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,537 reviews24.6k followers
January 18, 2018
Laura Carlin pulls us into the atmospheric, overflowing poverty, and the filthy, disease infested alleys and backstreets of 1830s London. In this distinctly Dickensian world, the young Hester White resides in the slums, she has lost her parents, and is in search of any route that will take her out of her dire circumstances. Dark nightmarish deeds are taking place as poor folk disappear in the city, but little attention is paid, after all, it impacts only those of little consequence. After being injured in a horse and carriage accident, Hester finds herself in a more fortuitous position. The carriage owner, Calder Brock offers medical attention and sweeps her away to stay at his country home. Hester acquires the post of companion to Calder's sister, Rebekah.

Rebekah is an intelligent, strong, determined and independent woman, who takes Hester under her wing, providing tuition to a grateful Hester. The two women develop a close relationship, although it soon becomes clear that the Brock family past festers with murky secrets. Hester is warned to leave the household before harm befalls her. Hester and Rebekah are tested to their limits as they are drawn into investigating the wickedness that pervades and stalks those in London in their efforts to discover the horrifying truth whilst surrounded by a web of deception and facing great danger. Thanks to the hand of fate, Hester escapes her social strata, but finds herself with a family with a complicated history. The romance and passions that burgeon into existence challenge the society norms and conventions.

Carlin writes in vibrant prose with descriptions that easily evokes the London of that period. However, there are times that this feels like an uneven read, largely due to the mixed pacing that does not always work. This did not interfere with my overall enjoyment of this wonderful piece of historical fiction. A highlight is the relationship between Hester and Rebekah. This is a compelling and entertaining read which I think many will enjoy reading. I look forward with great anticipation to Laura Carlin's next novel. Many thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC.
Profile Image for Emma.
971 reviews965 followers
November 11, 2017
Despite some brilliance in the evocative and lyrically expressive style, the book spent far too long lost in itself and was resolved by an 'actually-this-is-what-happened' ending in the form of a reported tale that was beyond ridiculous.

The story started slowly, but for the most part that worked effectively to build the necessary character study of Hester as she escapes from her desperately poor situation into the possibility of a new life. Carlin was great here, building tentative but deep relationships between the protagonist and supporting cast whilst the darker themes ran beneath: the questionable nature of the Brock family's past, the missing Londoners as well as two of the house's previous servants, and just what kind of people Hester has fallen in with. She has a strong, individual voice and her burgeoning love for and uncertain relationship with a certain character are strikingly rendered. A race through the pages part of the book that had me thinking 5 stars.

And then the book lost its way. It's somewhat difficult to discuss why without spoilers but it felt too contrived and therefore lost its vitality, I quickly lost interest. Whilst the ending gave some kind resolution, its melodramatic and far fetched nature contrasted too greatly with the dirty realism of the London streets to which we had been so successfully transported by the author. It made it even more unrealistic and pulled the illusion firmly from my eyes.

There's some genuine talent in the descriptive parts of the writing, but there needed to be more show, less tell, and some serious editing.

ARC via Netgalley
December 24, 2020
This book was delicious. It was that delicious, that I can still Carlin's words on my lips. I actually think I might be in love. In my opinion, this book is very underrated and deserves a higher rating here on goodreads. I found this book very difficult to put down, and when I did, my mind was constantly thinking about it.
Carlin had the most beautiful, flowing writing style, that just draws you in from the first chapter. She manages to bring alive the sights and scents from victorian London, and make one feel as if you are actually there. I loved the two main characters, Hester and Rebekah. Rebekah is a fierce feminist, that strives to be recognised for her intelligence, more than anything else. I can definitely relate to that.
The side story of the romance in this book was gorgeous. I don't normally appreciate romances, but this was handled wonderfully. It was a slow burner, and I definitely knew what was coming, and when it did, it came with style. I have to mention that cover! It's absolutely stunning! For a debut book, this was such a treat. I wish I could unread this just to experience this one again!
Profile Image for Rachel.
550 reviews860 followers
October 26, 2018
The Wicked Cometh could have been a perfectly adequate novel had it been written by someone with a modicum more talent for storytelling. It's unfortunate that a lesbian neo-Victorian thriller should be this devoid of passion and suspense, but as it stands, this was a rather dull and middling read.

From the very first page, everything about this book feels contrived. The premise is frankly absurd: a down on her luck young woman named Hester living in the slums of London gets into an accident one day and is rescued by a handsome and charismatic doctor who insists that she stay with his family to recuperate, and then be tutored by his sister so she has the opportunity to improve her station in life, and if that all sounds a little convenient, it's because this entire book is driven by coincidence and plot devices. Characters go through the motions as if in a pre-rehearsed pantomime; no one at any point feels present. The decisions they make seem to be solely in the interest of driving the plot forward; all rationality and logic is utterly abandoned to tell this story.

The writing itself is both stilted and melodramatic, a combination that lends itself beautifully to 337 pages (not that I was counting) of telling rather than showing. There isn't a single personality trait to be found in any one of these characters, but even so, we are simply bashed over the head with Hester's heavy-handed narration in which she extols the virtues of her tutor Rebekah. But even that is a bit misleading, because I'm not sure what these virtues are, exactly; only that Rebekah is the greatest person to ever have lived. Hester also likes to spell out exactly what is happening at any given time, in case we missed it: "With one faithless action I have changed the direction of both our destinies and unwittingly discarded my chance of future happiness." This isn't the kind of thing you should have to say; you should have faith as an author that this is being communicated by the narrative itself. You shouldn't need your characters to narrate the story to the reader as they're living it.

I really did want to love this, but frankly the whole thing felt silly and ridiculous, and not at all the sinister and atmospheric gothic novel I had been hoping for. Two stars for the novelty of seeing an LGBT romance in a historical fiction novel where homophobia isn't the main driving force in the narrative. Otherwise this was just stale and derivative.
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,670 reviews1,608 followers
January 31, 2018
Hester White, is a bright young woman and is desperate to escape the slums by any means possible. 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 ans 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. Their trust in each other will be tested as a web of deceit begins to unspool, dragging them into the city where something some depraved is lurking.

Set in 1832. This book has the perfect mix of setting and atmosphere., a friendship between two very different class of women from very different backgrounds. The story does seem to drag a bit in the middle, but it's still a good book. This will suit readers who like seedier plot lines.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Hodder & Stoughton and the author Laura Carlin for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,391 reviews819 followers
September 27, 2017
So the circle is closed; the merchants have become the goods.

I enjoyed this story greatly. It was atmospheric and an interesting storyline. I didn't guess what was going on to well into the second half of the book. The crimes were definitely of the age. The pace was a bit slow in the middle. I enjoyed the blossoming romance too.
Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of this book. All opinions are my own
Profile Image for Bex (Beckie Bookworm).
1,913 reviews1,218 followers
November 17, 2018
 photo The-wicked-cometh-image-1024x750_zpscalt0bq6.jpg

Release Date-8/2/18

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin is a middle of the fence story for me.
It is set against the backdrop of the slums of London in 1831 and features Hester White born the educated daughter of a parson she has fallen on hard times after the passing of her parents.
Taken in by the gardener and his wife Hester soon Finds herself far far down with the dregs of society Using an opportunity of chance Hester finds herself in service to the Brocks using a falsehood to secure an improvement in her station, Hester finds a growing friendship with the enigmatic Rebecca Brock her new teacher.
But there are secrets afoot and it's not long before Hester and Rebecca are caught in a web of intrigue and danger.
So with this, I really enjoyed the beginning and I also found the end to be very exciting.
However, the middle of "The Wicked Cometh" I struggled with, I found this to be a trifle long winded and I did find myself skimming quite frequently.
This is the main reason I have rated this down slightly.
Despite that, there is still plenty here to keep the attention and I must admit that I did become misled in regards to plot direction so bravo to the author for that.
I also loved the uniqueness of this tale in regards to the relationship between Rebekah and Hester.
And also the underlying mystery here, that managed to keep this afloat.
And also found the language used here was of a very lyrical nature.
This was also a nice touch.
So that's about it, there were positives and negatives to this story for me.
It was an alright read but didn't blow me away.
NetGalley provided me with an ARC of "The Wicked Cometh" by Laura Carlin of which I have reviewed voluntary.
All opinions expressed are entirely my own
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Reviewed By Beckie Bookworm
Profile Image for Paul.
1,159 reviews1,919 followers
October 20, 2019
This book tries to be many things, too many really and there is a great deal going on. To begin with the cover art is good. The novel is set in 1831, so it is pre-Victorian, but is set in a London that Dickens would have known. There is a touch of the Gothic about it and mystery part of the novel involves disappearances of the “lower” sort of person. There are some suitably roguish characters and the trade of the resurrection men, supplying London’s anatomy schools with corpses is obviously at the centre of it all. The reader guesses this from early on. The novel is also a lesbian romance centred on the two main characters, Hester and Rebekah. The romance is suitably stop/start and takes a while to come to fruition (most of the novel in fact). The biggest problem for me is the ending, or rather two endings. I think the last chapter and epilogue have been added as Carlin wasn’t brave enough to stick with the original ending and felt a happy ending was required. I think the novel would have been stronger without that.
Carlin can describe and set a scene well:
“Instead of the majesty of Westminster Abbey and the grandeur of the Banqueting House, here the houses spill over each other; dishevelled and ugly. A sickly, rotten stench rises from the streets and the rain-bloated gutters. Some thoroughfares bulge with black mud where pools of fetid water have collected, while others are narrow and meandering. All are swart with the lack of daylight and connected by alleyways and byways that seep over the scabbed ground.”
The scene setting does take rather a long time and the sense of mystery and danger takes a while to become evident. The narrative voice is Hester’s and this works well in the slower paced first half of the novel, less so in the more hurried second half. There is an increasing amount of competition in this genre and this is certainly in the tradition of Sarah Waters. It is based on an issue that was real in the 1830s, the provision of bodies for anatomical studies and on one of the more illegal ways of solving the problem. The limited length of the novel means that none of the themes can be as thoroughly explored as they need to be and this, for me, led to a sense of truncation in all of the themes.
This was ok for a debut novel and I would certainly read Carlin again (next one due out in 2020). Carlin writes well and the novel moves on well.
Profile Image for Umut.
355 reviews164 followers
March 30, 2018
You may find this review on my blog too: https://umutreviews.wordpress.com/201...
Wow, what a journey this book was! It took me by surprise with its beautiful writing, gothic atmosphere, mysteries, twists and characters! I absolutely loved it.
I listened to this book on Audible and it was fantastic choice of artist with an amazing performance that reflected the protagonist’s character so well. Big thumbs up to Audible!
The Wicked Cometh is a gothic historical novel set in London in 1831. Our protagonist is Hester White, a young woman who lives in the slums of London. She somehow makes her way into the life of the aristocratic Brock family, meeting her mistress Rebekah. At the same time, there are a lot of missing poor people out of the blue from the streets of London. After this point, we lurch into many mysteries unsolved and the layers of different characters and events start to peel off layer by layer.
I loved Carlin’s writing. It’s very atmospheric as the time and place deserves it. There are lots of secrets, passions, twists embedded in the plot. The protagonist Hester comes out as a charming, young woman in search of security and a good future. She develops very well throughout the book. I also loved Rebekah and how the relationship evolved between the two women. The story telling was very successful. As opposed to many books today, in my opinion this book was at the right length. It had a very good pace. It had very rich descriptions, which might feel like it’s slowing down, but I really enjoyed the writing. I guess it’s a personal preference. It might put off some people, but I enjoyed it. The end was very packed, twist after twist, I really enjoyed it.
Overall, for me it was a delicious ride at the dark times of historical England full of surprises. I cared so much for Hester and Rebekah. I liked Laura Carlin’s writing style, and I would definitely pick up another book from her without any hesitation. I would recommend this book for people who like slow burning mysterious historical fiction. If you liked this book, you’d also enjoy Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, which was another 5 star read for me this year.
Ana may I just say, WHAT A COVER!! It’s absolutely gorgeous in real life. The rose gold accents on cloth binding. It’s a jewel for a library 🙂
Big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Corrie.
1,515 reviews4 followers
October 25, 2020
I was so excited at the start of Laura Carlin’s The Wicked Cometh. A great setting (the slums of Regency London), a promising heroine Hester White (a young woman fallen on hard times but desperate to escape it), an intriguing mystery of disappearing people. The build-up was slow and effective. There were enough hints given by the author that all is not as it seems and you could sense the menacing darkness creeping in. We get a good grip on Hester, her needs and wants, her relationship with the secondary characters and her growing attraction to Rebekah Brock.

It was this relationship that could have lifted this book to another level, and Hester certainly made it come alive. It was mysterious Rebekah who left me wanting as she remained under developed. As the story progressed, the plot went from interesting to contrived, and I lost hope for the two of them. There was no further build-up, no ignited passion and it all became rather drab.

The final plot twist was such a shocker that I was ready to fling the book out the window right there and then (good thing it was an epub ;-). The denouement was spoiled when the author resorted to tell us what happened rather than letting us feel it, which would have made so much difference. (Was it tacked on? Because it feels like it was). I was left totally unsatisfied by it. Where was the editor?

I don’t want to be too harsh on Carlin as this is her debut. There were parts that were truly inspired but unfortunately it wasn’t constant throughout the book. In any case, there is genuine talent here and room to grow, so time will tell. I did buy her next novel to see how she holds up.


3.2 Stars
Profile Image for Lucy Banks.
Author 12 books287 followers
September 21, 2017
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Lovely style of writing, intriguing topic, but meandering at times.

Victorian setting, mysterious disappearances, a family with more secrets than you can shake a stick at... what's not to like?

For the most part, this was a book that worked well - an authentic-feeling glimpse into Victorian life, told through the eyes of Hester, a quiet girl raised by a rough London couple after the death of her parents, then catapulted into a gentrified world after an accident on the road. But children are going missing, and gradually, the reader discovers the grisly reason why.

I particularly liked the conclusion of this book (I won't spoil it for you) - it wasn't something I saw coming, and it worked well. There were a few moments where I had to suspend my disbelief a little (especially at the very end) - but I was happy to do so, as it was a compelling enough storyline.

My main issue was the pace of the book - I felt it could have done with a little tightening; my attention did wane in a few places. However, I'm glad I stuck with it, it was entertaining and I very much liked the characters.
Profile Image for Ellie.
573 reviews2,081 followers
February 9, 2019
↠ 3.5 stars

I actually didn’t know this was so dramatically gay until I read it and wow, my heart 😭 The heroine Hester is so passionate when expressing her love for Rebekah and it’s quite incredible. (There’s even a line that compares Rebekah to a sunset that gilds Hester’s day.)

The Wicked Cometh is a gritty Victorian novel that’s 50% romance and then 50% murder mystery, and I admit the fact the romance part wasn’t intertwined with the mystery part doesn’t sit all that well with me because ... they fall in love quickly then do the mystery but why not intertwine the plots by having them investigate murders and fall in love by being detective partners?? I love those novels. I did feel like they fell for each other quite quickly since the romance arc was the first part of the book, but they were really cute together so ok I guess.

Carlin builds an incredible picture of Victorian London - smoky, dirty and gritty, and really evocative. The book is also well-plotted, though it slows at parts, and I did get confused with a few characters and their roles here and there.

TL;DR: A beautifully-written debut with brilliant worldbuilding, and a really solidly enjoyable Victorian murder mystery
Profile Image for Ova - Excuse My Reading.
472 reviews358 followers
May 4, 2018
This was quite an atmospheric novel in the way it paints 1800's London. But I found it difficult to get into the story. In a lot of ways it was very similar with Sarah Water's The Fingersmith.
I can fault the writing and setting it's just wasn't original enough, it resembled me other books I've read, so settled on 3 stars.
Profile Image for Jane.
820 reviews610 followers
January 21, 2018
On a dark winter night, a book that promised to draw me back into the 19th century, into a story of family secrets and terrible crimes, called to me.

It began with a newspaper report.

‘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

And then it told me the story of Hester White.

Hester was a bright young woman who had very bad luck. Her childhood home had been a country parsonage, and she had been a much loved only child, but when her parents died, one after the other, she found herself alone in the world with no family to claim her. The elderly couple who had been the family’s servants took her in, hoping that the new parson would employ them and help the child. He did neither, and so they took her with them when they set out to look for work.

They struggled, they found themselves living hand to mouth in a London slum, and Hester learned some very hard lessons.

The writing was wonderful, I was very taken with Hester, and I was happy to follow her as the story unfolded.

It was maybe because she was worried about one of those missing persons that she didn’t look where she was going and was crushed by a gentleman’s carriage. She was badly injured, but she was lucky because that gentleman took her home in her carriage, he made sure that she had all of the care and attention that she needed, and then he made her extraordinary proposal. He wanted her to stay, and to be educated by his sister; because he was a social reformer and he wanted to prove that slum dwellers could be educated, that they could better themselves …

Hester seized the chance of a new life, but things went terribly wrong, she received a warning and she had to flee. She found though that she couldn’t go back and that she couldn’t let go of the new life she had been promised.

I understood why she acted as she did, why she felt as she did, and I loved her voice as she told her story.

I was interested in the relationships I saw, and with the relationships that were growing, with people she knew in London, with the servants who looked after her at Brock House, and with the Brock family and the people around them. There was one person in particular, a relationship that was uncertain at first but became firmer and stronger.

I loved the way that the intrigue had developed. The Brock family relationships were strained and it was clear that there were dark secrets. Two of their servants were missing, as well as the missing Londoners, and it was by no means certain that Hester was safer there than she had been on the streets.

I wish that I could say that the playing out of the story was as good as the setting up, but I can’t.

It’s difficult to say why without saying too much, but there was a change of direction and it was too melodramatic and too far fetched for me, and the characters and relationships were compromised for the sake of the plot.

There were times when questions should have been asked, but they weren’t; because the plot was rushing forward to the finish.

It wasn’t entirely wrong, but it wasn’t right, and I couldn’t help thinking that the author was trying to do too much in one book and that there wasn’t the space to develop all of the different aspects of the story.

I loved her writing, I loved her ideas, but the book as a whole didn’t quite work.

The ending was infuriating. A door was very firmly closed, and then it was forced open again when it shouldn’t have been. I had thought the conclusion that I wanted couldn’t be, and just as I had accepted that I found that it had happened after all. It was right but it was wrong!

I can believe that a different kind of reader would love the whole of this book.

I can’t, but I found enough to admire in this book to be interested in seeing what its author does next.
Profile Image for Bookish Ally.
482 reviews44 followers
June 10, 2019
The Wicked Cometh is Victorian London murder mystery with a love interest story alongside . That love story was different than I expected, taking me a bit by surprise and, while I do appreciate the sentiment, I dislike descriptives around physical intimacy, of which this tale has none. I thought the premise well conceived and told, and give it 3.75 stars (rounded up), for a story which, by half way through, truly held me captive. I enjoyed the gothic atmosphere. The crimes herein revolve around corpses as commodity - of which many true stories sprang, and many crimes were committed. For a fast page read with many twisty turns, you can definitely pass a couple of evenings at the edge of your seat amongst these pages.
Profile Image for Rosemary Standeven.
745 reviews39 followers
February 8, 2018
This book, set in the murky sub-world of Victorian London, and beautifully written in Victorian-style prose, tells the story of Hester White, a young educated orphan, who has fallen upon very hard times. When being involved in an accident offers Hester the opportunity to move up in the world, she grasps it with open arms, and considers any deceptions on her part, to be the price she must pay. She does not reckon with the attachment she will soon feel to her benefactors, and her guilt in having deceived them.
The pace of the book is slow for the first half, but picks up as the danger mounts in the latter stages.
The book deals well with the class distinction in Victorian London, and particularly how the outward appearance of class, as shown by the clothes worn, decides the nature of interactions between people. Even better is the portrayal of gender politics, and the stifling fate of women in this period. For me, the heroine of this story was Rebecca – willing and able to apply her considerable intelligence, capable of caring for those close to her, but also for people outside her class and acquaintance – but condemned to forever be undervalued as both unmarried and female. I kept hoping she might live long enough to see women get the vote.
The story is narrated by Hester. At first, I really liked her character, but as the story progressed, and she became increasingly love-stricken and obsessed with the object of her affections, I lost patience with her. I am not a fan of romantic fiction – and this was just a bit too much love-lorn sighing for me.
That said, the underlying story is engaging, and the writing very good. Anyone who loves Victorian crime mixed in with romance would probably give it five stars.
I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,158 reviews209 followers
February 23, 2018
Following a narrow escape from under the wheels of a carriage, Hester is taken under the wing of a handsome young surgeon, Calder Brock, who, in an echo of Pygmalion, sets out to educate her in an effort to prove that the poor are capable of education. Hester finds herself drawn to Calder’s sister, Rebekah, who is charged with her tuition. Soon Hester becomes eager for any excuse to be in Rebekah’s presence, daring to hope that her own feelings might be returned. ‘Then something changes - the meeting of a kindred spirit, the potency of mutual trust – and the tender graces of self-belief once more visit themselves upon us and we are as complete as ever we may be.’
The author concentrates on building up the atmosphere of the period and the various locations in the first half of the book. The writing conjures up the sights, sounds and smells of the seedier parts of London: dank cellars, dark alleyways, mire-strewn streets, secret thoroughfares used for illicit purposes.

The pace of the story really picks up in the second half as Rebekah and Hester embark on their investigation into the disappearances, risking everything as they enter the realm of individuals who have few scruples in dealing with those who get in their way. Soon they are in parts of London without light both literally and metaphorically. ‘Dark with the business of the people who live here. Dark with the deeds that are done.’ With the benefit of historical hindsight, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on so the interest was mainly in watching Hester and Rebekah feel their way slowly towards the shocking truth.

I enjoyed The Wicked Cometh and thought it was an assured debut. I admired the writing and the way the author skilfully evoked the atmosphere of the dark underbelly of London. There were also some intriguing plot elements revealed at the end. I’ll confess I was left with the slight sense at the end that I’d read it all before in other books (admittedly a bit of an occupational hazard if, like me, you read a lot of historical fiction). However, I would definitely look out for further books from this author. (3.5 stars)

I received an advance reader copy courtesy of NetGalley and publishers Hodder & Stoughton in return for an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Thebooktrail.
1,563 reviews283 followers
December 7, 2017
Hester Hester what a character you are. How I loved being dragged into your world. I say dragged as it’s a fully immersive experience and the stench and squalor of your London is not for the faint hearted but what a journey it was!

A girl from a poor family, raised by a rough couple and then in to a world of gentrification. There’s a good story right there. But this had missing children, missing children no one seemed to care about as they were from the poor part of town.

Full review nearer the time

Laura, Laura - please write more!
Profile Image for Nigel.
800 reviews88 followers
February 1, 2018
In brief - Decent enough read, story was ok and characters were good. More than a 3, less than a 4 and rounded up for now.

In full
I found the start of this book very atmospheric. Set in the London of 1831,it talks about the reported disappearance of Master Hogget. He is not the only person to have gone missing recently. We are then introduced to Hester and her life in much reduced circumstances. The story revolves around Hester, Miss Rebekah and their concerns about the missing people. Through a stroke of luck - ill or otherwise, Hester has an accident and is looked after by Calder who is Rebekah's brother. He is a physician. As part of her care Hester takes lessons from Rebekah.

The sexual tension between the two women is obviously very early on and forms an important part of this story. Rebekah's family who are a little unusual are the other strand together with the missing people. The basic story idea here is fine with me and is well fleshed out. I found this perfectly readable however it seemed to take a while to get going.

The setting, time and place, felt real and quite vivid to me. The writing is fairly simple and makes for easy and well paced reading - I was never bored by this story. I liked the characters too. Once again they felt mostly real though I think the brother and his friend were less well developed and one dimensional. Indeed generally I found the female roles more engaging and interesting than the male ones

All in all I found this a good enough read though I was not blown away by it. I'd say this was better than 3 stars though not 4 stars to me but I'd be happy to read another book by this author.

Note - I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review

Profile Image for Laura.
906 reviews74 followers
February 6, 2018
Book reviews on www.snazzybooks.com

The Wicked Cometh was a mixed bag for me. Firstly, I loved the way this book was written. It evoked a real sense of time and place, and you could imagine being there with Hester as she navigates and lives among the shady characters of murky 1800's London. The narrative is easy enough to read and the characters are interesting. I liked the element of mystery that hung over the novel, too.

There are some good twists and turns that kept me wanting to read on, with the first part of the story setting the scene really well, transporting me there in my mind. It's the second half, however, where the action ramps up a bit more, and I was glad of this as I felt some of the story tended to drag things out a bit.

This was the main problem I had with The Wicked Cometh: the pace and the length of time the story spent on certain things instead of advancing the plot as I wanted it to. I should make it clear that I don't mind a book that has a slower pace, but I felt like this lost its way at times. I think at times there were a little too many characters to keep track of. who I didn't really care enough about. I found myself losing interest a little as the novel took so long to get anywhere. As the second half of the story approached I did get more into the narrative, and found myself caring more about what happened.

Saying that, I definitely appreciate the really skilled writing in this novel and would recommend it to fans of historical fiction who don't mind a book that tends to go more 'around the houses'. However, whatever novel you prefer, Laura Carlin's writing is sure to fire up the imagination, painting a vivid picture of 19th century London for whoever reads this!
Profile Image for MaryannC. Fiendish Book freak.
485 reviews106 followers
May 16, 2018
A gothic, engrossing read about a young woman living in the far depths of poverty who is given the chance to change her circumstances and live among the gentry in London, 1831. After tragically losing her parents, young Hester White is taken in by her gardener's family where she lives in squalor and hunger but seeks and dreams of a way out to a better life. In a chance encounter Hester White finds herself taken in by the wealthy Brock Family who have agreed to have her tutored by the family's aloof but intelligent daughter and sister, Rebekah. Hoping to continue her studies in the Brock home Hester feigns ignorance and not reveal her true intelligence in order to be close to Rebekah, but at the same time, children in the city's slums are going missing and Rebekah and Hester seek to find out why. This was a very atmospheric read into the underbelly of London's mean streets where many did everything and anything to survive.
Profile Image for kerrie.
210 reviews38 followers
September 14, 2018
This Victorian, gothic, lesbian excellence. I ADORED.

The crafting and pacing of the story were wonderful, the writing was stunning (just ethereal honestly), the characters captivating.

The ending? incredible. The novel keeps you gripped and takes you places you don't quite expect.
I hold Hester and Rebekah very dear to me, and my god do I hope Laura Carlin writes more historical novels. The fact that this is her debut blows my mind. Stunning. More people need to read this.
Profile Image for Robin Stevens.
Author 49 books2,058 followers
April 12, 2018
A glorious, gothic mystery story that felt like a mix of Sherlock Holmes and Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint from Doctor Who. Victorian mystery solving ladies! I loved it. (14+)

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. Please do not use it in any marketing material, online or in print, without asking permission from me first. Thank you!*
Profile Image for artemis.
118 reviews13 followers
May 15, 2018
I am so underwhelmed, jeez. I skimmed through the last 50 pages because I was just really, really bored.
Profile Image for Abby.
182 reviews30 followers
May 23, 2022
Content Warning: murder, violence, death (including that of a child), misogyny, dated racist terms, gore, animal abuse/death, anti-Semitism.

For more of my reviews, check out my blog!

Before London, before poverty, Hester White remembers a happy life in Lincolnshire. Now, Hester is determined to find her way out of London and its underbelly, and hopefully end up a position in the countryside -- far away from her alcoholic "Uncle" Jacob and the evil that lurks in the alleyways she's lived in for many years now. When Hester gets a chance to escape her life, educated under the brilliant Rebekah Brock and living with the rest of the aristocratic family, she leaps at the opportunity. Things are not how they seem, however, and with disappearances and murders plaguing London at a frightening rate, it will be up to Rebekah and Hester to uncover the sinister plot that is unfolding beneath their very noses.

As someone who loves a Gothic story (and is a huge Sarah Waters fan), I figured that The Wicked Cometh would be just my cup of tea. Reading through the first chapter, Carlin's vivid descriptions of London's dark history impressed and intrigued me. She has a wonderful eye for detail, and there were moments when I felt as if I were standing right beside Hester as she told us what a day in her poverty-stricken London was like. I'm disappointed to say, though, that that feeling didn't last.

It's hard to get invested in a story that is 90% telling and only 10% showing. I found myself frustrated by the way that we would skim over scenes (and entire weeks and months) without us ever actually getting to experience what Hester is experiencing. The first 35% of the book felt almost pointless, like fodder merely meant to fill up an otherwise rather empty story. It could've been wonderfully interesting to see all the events through Hester's eyes, but they are never fleshed out and, therefore, insignificant.

As for Hester's relationship with Rebekah, it's the same problem: why weren't the scenes where they get to know one another actually on-page? Because of this issue, it was nearly impossible for me to understand why exactly Hester finds herself falling for Rebekah, and frankly, in spite of the fact that the story is told through Hester's POV, it was even hard to understand why Rebekah liked Hester so much. They feel relatively one-dimensional; aside from a few defining traits, I couldn't really tell you much about their personalities or their dynamic.

That being said, I did enjoy Rebekah and Hester's rather sweet relationship, but because of the lack of development (both in character and in the story itself) it fell rather flat. I hate to say this, because as a whole, this book could've been fantastic -- the bare bones are there, it's just the flesh that is missing. And once again I must reiterate that Carlin is by no means an incapable writer; that's what makes it so disappointing. There was so much potential, but unfortunately, it seemed to me that it was never utilized fully.

In my opinion, though, The Wicked Cometh is no lower than an average three-star. There are some parts that are fantastic, making the poorer parts stand out even more starkly. The first half of this story, in spite of the telling I mentioned above, captivated my interest, but as the convoluted and contrived second half finally came to its climax, I couldn't help but wonder what on earth had gone wrong. The mystery, similarly, is more foundation than anything else.

With all of that being said, I would read another book by Carlin. As with everything, writing is a skill that must be practiced, and I have a feeling that her future books will be much better with time and patience.
Profile Image for Angela Smith.
417 reviews53 followers
March 8, 2018
Well it was a good book and I found it easy to have read big chunks of it without realising so many pages had been read. In other words it told a good story and had a rather unconventional relationship (for the time it was set in) I hadn't been expecting it going into the book but it was well written and convincing.

The story was set in 19th century London during some of the worst times with slums barely habitable and filth/crime ridden streets where Hester had unfortunately found herself. She'd come from a much better life in the country, having sunk to poverty after parents died. Living with a drunken uncle and his wife, life doesn't hold many prospects for Hester.

What's more her cousin has gone missing and Hester is determined to find out what's happened to him. She gets knocked down by a carriage and her life changes for the better when the doctor who happens to be in the carriage takes her home to recover.

Through him she meets his sister Rebekah who is to be her teacher and mentor. Hester hides the fact that she can already read and write as a closer friendship and emotional bond grows between them. The case of the people that keep going missing in London becomes their obsession as they try to discover what is happening to all the missing people.
276 reviews7 followers
July 19, 2019
Official rating 3 and a quarter. A enjoyable bit of escapism with a historic twist. There was never a point didn’t enjoy reading it. It wasn’t brilliant it was good. The writing style was sometime is a bit too much.
Wouldn’t rush to read another book by this author but I did enjoy it.

Ps sometimes found the main plot confusing.
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