Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.
When Annie Mason’s estranged father dies, her presence is requested on Crow Island to deal with his estate. People whisper of real magic on the island, the kind that is illegal. The kind young women have been hanged for.
The year is 1922, and there is a prohibition in Britain. Not of alcohol, but of magic. Annie rents a cottage next door to Emmeline Delacroix’s house, where extravagant parties are held, full of booze and forbidden things.
I had learned that the best time to practice magic was not at midnight like my aunt had always said; the true witching hour was the morning after a party, any time after the last straggler passed out in the fountain and before eight o’clock.
The book has a smattering of Gatsby influence. At the start, Annie watches Emmeline’s parties from a distance, glimpsing the glamour and the magic. She is an outsider drawn to something inexplicable in the mysterious stranger dressed in men’s clothes.
Emmeline herself is obsessed with a woman who chose to love another. She made a great sacrifice and now is suffering the cost of a blood debt unpaid. That woman is an old friend of Annie’s, and her good heart wishes to help her despite their disagreements.
What if you are what I want? The thought hung between us, unspoken but not silent.
I found it took me a while to get used to the writing style, but then I was drawn into this immersive world of forbidden magic, regret and unfulfilled desire. The island setting adds to the intimacy of their world, it’s like the rules of the mainland can’t reach them here.
While hemlines may have been rising and Emmeline wears trousers, it was an uneasy time to be an independent woman still. Here they face suspicion purely by being a group of unmarried women, throwing parties and drinking, like they were men. Emmeline has her own found family, Nathan and Isobel, who she wishes to protect as if they were her children. Through glimpses of the past, you see what the witches went through to make them the way they are now.
I would have liked to have learned a little more about what happened in WWI with the magic to cause the prohibition. Although the story gives a good idea of how dangerous magic can be.
Magic is… a trickster. It draws you in, makes you think you can control it. You get a taste and then you get careless. You can’t control it any more than you can the tide or the rise of the moon.
Wild and Wicked Things is published by Orbit and will be available from 31st March in hardback, ebook and audiobook editions. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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