cover image Wild and Wicked Things

Wild and Wicked Things

Francesca May. Redhook, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-0-316-28715-9

May (The Final Child, written as Fran Dorricott) delivers a beautiful but somewhat ponderous tale of queer love in a post-WWI England where the existence of magic is acknowledged but not accepted. After the war, Crow Island teems with tourists, among them Annie Mason, brought to the island by the death of a father she never knew. While settling his affairs, she lives in a small cottage next to the grand, infamous Cross House, inhabited by a mysterious trio rumored to serve forbidden magic at their Gatsby-esque soirees. Also on the isle is Annie’s best friend, Bea, who ran away with barely a goodbye a year earlier—and who is now subtly different in chilling ways. Complicating matters is the inexplicable pull Annie feels toward Emmeline, the butch owner of Cross House. She doesn’t understand their kinship, nor does she yet realize that she, Emmeline, and Bea are all inextricably connected. May’s atmospheric prose conjures the world down to its last detail but is less successful at driving the plot forward. It doesn’t help matters that Emmeline and her Cross House roommates are far more captivating than Annie and Bea. Still, fans of historical fantasy will appreciate the lush scene-setting and be drawn in by the women’s complex dynamics. Agent: Diana Beaumont, Marjacq. (Mar.)