Review of “The Wicked City” by Beatriz Williams

Williams, Beatriz. The Wicked City. New York: William Morrow, 2017. 

Hardcover | $26.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0062405029 | 366 pages | Historical Fiction

3 stars

Back when I first discovered Beatriz Williams’ work, I devoured every one of her books but this one, which gave me a hard time. And unlike the book by her alter ego, Juliana Gray that I also read relatively recently, time did not endear me much more to it, although I do admit there were some good parts.

One of the best parts is the fact that, like all of her books, this is set in the shared universe that all her books are set in, dominated by the Schuyler family either as main characters, or at the very least major supporting players. I loved catching up with them, especially the branch from the Schuyler Sisters trilogy, as Ella, the heroine of the 1999 arc is Pepper’s daughter. And despite not being a major part of the novel, I liked watching Ella grow, and her big speech to her cheating ex about how she isn’t planning to take him back is a beautiful moment that shows her growth as a character.

However, the narration of the Gin section proved difficult for me to get into, with its combination of first person present tense and use of dialect, even in non-dialogue sentences. While the twists and turns of the plot still had me reasonably immersed and I found myself curious about what would happen next, especially with the ending to that arc still feeling unresolved to leave an opening for a series, I still found the prose style a little too distracting.

I think most Beatriz Williams fans might love it, or at the very least like it, even though it does vary considerably from her usual style in terms of novel structure, with the Ella scenes being mostly filler (albeit fun filler, with the Williams-World references) with a loose connection at best that only becomes evident towards the end.

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