*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Wild and Wicked Things
Author: Francesca May
Publication Date: March 29, 2022
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.
Annie Mason arrives on Crow Island in the wake of her father’s passing to sort through the property he left behind and to learn about the man she hadn’t seen in years. What she doesn’t expect is to find herself thrown into the midst of the wild, dangerous, and potentially deadly world of magic. Magic is outlawed and the penalty is hanging. Annie doesn’t expect her trip to end up with her life at stake, but that’s potentially the very thing that she might face.
Wild and Wicked Things is a little outside of the norm in terms of genre for me these days, but May is a good writer and I found myself sucked into the story. Annie is a pretty likeable character, if not a little boring. As she starts to creep out of her shell and as her curiosity often gets the better of her, the more the story picks up and becomes harder to put down. Death lurks around every corner and we, through Annie’s eyes, begin to discover the world of magic. Add in a queer romance story and a gothic setting, and this makes for a well-rounded fantasy story.
The most interesting characters in this book are the witches of Cross House: Emmeline, Isabel, and Nathan. I could have read an entire story about the 3 of them and I totally wouldn’t be surprised if the author did an adjacent story featuring their backstories. Nathan was a particular favourite of mine, and I sense for the author as well. We need more Nathan! Annie herself is a bit of a conundrum. While the intent is clearly to show her character growth, the reality is that in the span of a few weeks, she totally throws away her beliefs, morals, and frankly, personality. I’m all for personality growing and changing throughout the story, but in this case, I found it to be a bit of a stretch. The Annie at the end is barely unrecognizable from the Annie at the beginning. I found it hard to heartily believe and stand behind her arc.
I rated this book a 3 out of 5 on Goodreads. I didn’t love, but I did enjoy it. May’s writing is gripping and interesting, and the dark plot twists did leave me wondering how the characters were going to get out of the messes they found themselves in. Certainly an interesting read for those who love a good gothic fantasy novel.