When Tish Everett forces open the ruby locket she finds at an estate sale, she has no idea that a deliciously rakish Bludman has cast a spell just for her. She wakes up in a surreal world, where Criminy Stain, the dashing proprietor of a magical traveling circus, curiously awaits. At Criminy’s electric touch, Tish glimpses a tantalizing future, but she also foresees her ultimate doom. Before she can decide whether to risk her fate with the charming daredevil, the locket disappears, and with it, her only chance to return home. Tish and Criminy battle roaring sea monsters and thundering bludmares, vengeful ghosts and crooked Coppers in a treacherous race to recover the necklace from the evil Blud-hating Magistrate. But if they succeed, will Tish forsake her fanged suitor and return to her normal life, or will she take a chance on an unpredictable but dangerous destiny with the Bludman she’s coming to love?
Wicked As They Come has the following endearing features:
1. The ever-useful love triangle clutch,
3. slow beginning syndrome,
4. unnatural and stiff dialogue,
5. contradictory characters,
...and the list goes on.
What I liked:
1. Putting aside how dull it was for a second, the beginning was very, very exciting to read because I kept feeling it would somehow lead to more. I instantly loved Criminy and how the story had a slight Alice in Wonderland feel to it. I was even sympathizing with and liking Letitia.
2. Another noteworthy point in its favor is that the world-building in Wicked As They Come is absolutely splendid. The writing is compelling and descriptive, and the story simply flows from one scene into another. The only reason I even finished reading the book, besides the hope that it'd eventually get better, is because of how engaging the writing style is. Even at its worst, I never considered putting Wicked As They Come aside for good.
What I didn't like:
1. The beginning is turtle-paced and boring. I initially believed it was only going to be like that at the start and the action would pick up at least midway through; unfortunately, the pace is pretty consistent in that it remains dull throughout the novel, until the last 15% or so. Even when the speed picked up, I was so emotionally detached from the story that it didn't really change my overall impression.
2. The dialogue in general, and especially between Letitia and Criminy, felt orchestrated and stiff. I had trouble feeling the characters and understanding them, and that's usually the one thing that matters most to me in fiction.
3. Criminy's character felt awkward and contradictory, and his so-called love for Letitia even more so. He seemed to be smitten with her at one instant and vastly annoyed with her the next, snapping and lashing out unexpectedly. Throughout the book, I couldn't grasp who he was supposed to be at all and that greatly hindered my appreciation for the romance.
What I hated:
1. A lot of Letitia's actions were foreseeably stupid. **spoiler**Like how she fell for the ghost's trickery, and later, for Madam Burial's ploy.**/spoiler**
2. I hated Casper and Letitia's infatuation with him. IMHO, Wicked As They Come would have been a hundred times better if Casper hadn't been in it. If I wasn't irritated with Letitia enough already, her feelings for him would have done it. I can't pinpoint it exactly, but something about his character rubbed me the wrong way the moment he was introduced. And seeing as the next book is his, I doubt I'll be continuing with this series.
“A dream?” he said, one arched eyebrow raised. “You think this is a dream?”
“I know it is,” I said coolly.
He grinned. “Sweetheart, you couldn’t conjure me if you tried.”
"What if you could take everything you were looking for in a person and whisper it into someone’s ear, and they brought that person to you? And then, when you saw them for the first time, even if you didn’t know they were the one for you, you suddenly knew it anyway?” His finger traced my eyebrows, my cheekbones, as he thought a moment. “What if your heart stopped when you saw that person, and only after that did you realize that they truly were everything you ever wanted?”
“OK, that would be nice,” I had to admit.
“That’s what happened for me,” he said gently.