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3.5 

Wild and Wicked Things

By Francesca May
Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

"Haunting, immersive, and seething with dark magic."―Alexis Henderson

Oprah Daily Top 25 Fantasy Book of 2022!

In the 1920s, a lush, decadent gothic tale unfolds as a young woman slips into a glamorous world filled with illicit magic, tantalizing romance, and murder. 

On Crow Island, people whisper that real magic lurks just below the surface.

But magic doesn’t interest Annie Mason. Not after it stole her future. She’s on the island only 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 most mesmerizing may be her enigmatic new neighbor. 

Mysterious and alluring, Emmeline Delacroix is a figure shadowed by rumors of witchcraft. Soon, Annie 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.

To those who are bright and young; to those who are wild and wicked; welcome to Crow Island. 

Praise for Wild and Wicked Things:

“A deep, sensuous exploration of the bonds between three very different, complex women that readers won't soon forget." —Gwenda Bond, New York Times bestselling author 

"Brimming with romance and gilded with danger, Wild and Wicked Things is a heady, lyrical gem of a book."—Hannah Whitten, New York Times bestselling author
 

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200 Reviews

3.5
Thinking Face“2.5-3* I have a lot of thoughts about this book, some good but unfortunately quite a few bad too, and I'm going to try to congest them into a review that doesn't spoil too much of anything. I had really high hopes for this one, which was maybe my downfall. Magic, mystery and the 1920's are so up my alley that this book seemed made for me - especially when the first few chapters seemed to draw almost direct parallels to The Great Gatsby - but there were some thing that clicked and some things that just irritated me to no end and I still don't know how I feel about them. Let's start at the beginning. We're introduced to a post-war world where magic is real and known to exist but the laws surrounding magic have drastically changed after it's use in the war. There is a lot of distrust around magic and the world seems to be treating witches like they did hundreds of years ago by killing anyone who gets out of line. Here we find Annie, a girl who is called to Crow Island after the death of her absent father and finds herself drawn to Cross House and it's inhabitants, despite her very valid concerns about the possible magic that takes place there. We also have the added complication of Bea, Annie's best friend from home who also happens to live on Crow Island but hasn't spoken to Annie in over a year and has gone through a complete personality change since they last saw each other. The early chapters of the book set us up quite nicely and there is definitely nods to Gatsby in these early chapters, in fact there are mirroring circumstances within the early chapters that lead me to believe this was perhaps a retelling of Gatsby but with magical lesbians, but unfortunately these nods to the classic are temporary and get completely lost later on in the book. Honestly, the plot of this book is so complicated. There is so much going on and so much of it is never fully explained - which is odd because the book is told in first person perspective. We switch between Annie and Emmeline, the latter a witch who has lived on the island most of her life and has become tangled up in a debt that she can't pay the price for, and the main story focuses on Emmeline attempting to solve the debt issue and Annie just being essentially dragged along for the twisted ride. I think what makes this plot so complicated is that there is so much magic in it (yes, I know, bizarre to complain about in a dark magic book) but none of it is really explained fully. A lot of the magic in the book feels surface level, we're told lists of ingredients or detailed actions the characters have to go through to perform magic but we're never really told what any of it means. We get mentions of spells, brief excerpts from magical books etc. but honestly I still have no idea how the magic works in this book and could not explain it to anyone who asked. There is a lot of blood involved, that's about it. We also have minor storylines taking place that don't need to be there at all e.g. the whole thing with the council is unnecessary and just draws attention from the main plot while not really adding anything to the story - the plot should have focused around the debt or the council, we did not need both. The writing was sometimes beautiful and sometimes not great. I will fully admit that first person perspective is already not my favourite but in this story I found it slightly infuriating, especially any chapter told by Emmeline. Even when we're in her head, hearing the story through her voice, we learn next to nothing from her and it is maddening to have Annie constantly asking her the most basic of questions for her to just shut them down constantly. As a character she is naturally closed off, her past has greatly influenced her trust in other people and I completely understand that, but even when we're looking at the world through her eyes there is so much we're not told. I also found it slightly confusing that flashback chapters from Emmeline shifted to third person narrative, I am sure it was intentional to separate the past from the present but honestly it just made me wish the entire book was third person because at least when she was being secretive it made sense. To the positives though, the atmosphere in the book when it focused on the darker elements were really great. Stepping away from the characters and their personal issues, the writing of the magic itself and the more grittier parts of the book were gripping. I wish we'd got a lot more of the magical side of things than the relationship side, it would have served the book well for that to be the focus because when it was done right it was done really right. There is a lot of action in this book, a lot of fast-paced sequences and these are also done incredibly well. They are intense and emotionally packed with a sort of frantic feel to them that adds to the atmosphere beautifully. The characters were kind of a mess. I really struggled to connect with the main three characters in this book (Annie, Emmeline and Bea) and that is largely because most of the decisions they make are completely terrible and they (Emmeline and Bea in particular) are incredibly selfish. There is a lot to unpack with these characters, there are some real raw emotions attached to each of them and between them a lot of trauma to unpack, but honestly that can only be used as so much of an excuse considering what takes place in this book. The entire book is essentially following an attempt to fix a mistake that Emmeline and Bea made, that not only could cost them their lives but essentially stole the free will and life of someone else in the process. Annie, unfortunately, gets caught up in this whole mess and rather than make things better she is so obsessed with Emmeline that she just helps spiral the situation further. Towards the end of the book Emmeline says something to Annie about how all people make bad choices and mistakes but the important thing is that you learn from them... which would be relevant if several people hadn't died because of your mistakes. Isobel and Nathan though are great, they deserved so much better than the life they were dealt and the mess that Emmeline eventually dragged them into. I would've liked to see a lot more of them in the book, most of the time they're just there as a support system to Emmeline and most of the time she doesn't deserve it. Isobel and Nathan went through a lot of trauma themselves in their childhood and I would have liked to see that explored more, the ways in which they were shaped by their trauma were a lot more hopeful and selfless - the abuse they suffered as children just made them grow up to be even more kinder, wiser people. As a final note, while I was excited about a dark sapphic magical romance, it just wasn't for me. The whole thing with Annie and Emmeline happened far too quickly, there is definitely an element of instalove with the two of them and that will never be for me. Emmeline spends most of the book shutting Annie down and telling her to leave because she doesn't want her there, yet somehow Annie just wants her more and more, to the point where she essentially goes against all her better instincts and gives up everything else for her. I was honestly more invested in Emmeline and Bea, at least their toxic history was a mess on both sides, the two of them deserved each other. Overall, this book was a rollercoaster. If you like dark magical realism with action packed in then this book is for you because those are the elements this book did beautifully. Unfortunately the characters and lack of depth let it down, there are a lot of visual details in the book but not enough about the function of magic itself to grab me. I'm not entirely sure whether I would recommend this as a sapphic romance because that also lacked depth for me, it felt as though there wasn't enough space for it within the plot to happen naturally so they were pushed together far too fast - which is unfortunate because the setting of this story could have made for a really great romance. I think it's just a book that tried to do to much at once and tried to be too many things, it might have even worked better as a series, giving the characters and plot more space to grow and change.”
Diverse charactersMulti-layered charactersSuspensefulTwistyDark settingMagical settingDarkAbuseHomophobiaUnengaging characters
Anxious Face with sweat“It was a good read. I wish I had more time to get to know Is and Nathan. I liked the magical soulmates arc but I wish we had more time to see Em and Annie’s relationship grow and get stronger. I liked the magic universe and how it was set just on the boundaries of our real world.”
Multi-layered charactersSuspensefulDark settingDark
Smiling Face with Heart-Eyes“I was sucked in from the beginning, I knew that even if I didn’t end up loving the book the writing style had me hooked. Well I ended up loving it and I will miss these characters and this immersive world. Definitely worth a read if you like rich developed characters, suspense, magic and love.”
Believable charactersCharacters change and growDiverse charactersDescriptive writingEasy to readAddictiveFast-pacedSuspensefulImmersive settingMagical setting
“This is a interesting story about hidden and punishable magic, set around World War 1, on a mysterious crescent moon shaped island. It follows Annie who has gone to the island after her estranged father has died and left her his house and belongings. She rents a cottage on the island next to a house where parties are thrown every weekend and the whispers of magic are heard. She feels a pull towards the house, and in particular to Emmeline who lives there. She uses this opportunity to rekindle a friendship with Bea, her best friend, who had moved to the island and had not left on good terms. On meeting her, Bea is married and has spun lies about her life to her new husband. The magic system was interesting and I think it could have been explored further. It had a very slow build, it was mysterious and definitely reminded me of practical magic. I really enjoyed Emmeline and Annie’s development and tension. I wanted more. I found Bea irritating which I think the author was aiming for and some of the choices she made were predictable. I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in sapphic relationships, witchy, forbidden, mysterious vibes. 3.5/5 stars. Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review.”

About Francesca May

Francesca May grew up in the middle of England where she spent her childhood devouring fantasy books and brewing potions in her back garden. She currently lives in Derby with her family, three giant dogs, and two black cats. By day she works as a bookseller at Waterstones. By night she accidentally kills every house plant she touches and writes novels about gothic mansions, witchcraft, and queer love. She also writes psychological thrillers and gothic suspense as Fran Dorricott. You can find her on Twitter @franwritesstuff or her website at www.frandorricott.com

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