It's been a little over a year since Hob, Molly, Nemain, and Jack helped free Castle Blanchefontaine from the wrath of a murderous beast. Their efforts have earned them friends and patrons in the lord and knights of Blanchefontaine, and notoriety for being the only ones able to fight the evil that plagued those parts. And so, on one of their returns to the castle, they are informed that an acquaintance of Sir Jehan's, one Sir Odinell, now has a problem that Molly and her caravan might be able to help with.
It seems Sir Odinell has a new neighbor, a lord whose lands have been appointed by the king himself. The neighbor is odd and his arrival has brought much trouble to the area, leaving Sir Odinell certain that the cause lies at the feet of said lord. But dealing with the issue is problematic for two reasons: first, the lord's connection to both the king and the pope makes him virtually - and officially - untouchable; second, Sir Odinell believes this lord's power to be most unnatural and evil. Sir Odinell once fought alongside Sir Jehan and trusts him when he says that Molly is his best chance. In return for her help, he promises he will also become a patron and ally when Molly returns to her native land to claim her place as queen of her clan. Though the task set forth is a difficult one, Molly is certain it is the fate of her family to intervene. But what she discovers when they arrive is an evil worse than any she's encountered.
If you read my review of Something Red last week, then you know that I was quite anxious to return to these characters. And what a rewarding return it was! While The Wicked is equal in atmosphere and detail to Something Red, the pacing on this second book in the series is much faster. Within just a few pages, Molly and her group are on their way to Sir Odinell's stumbling upon dead bodies and fighting off minions sent by the wicked Sir Tarquin.
Nicholas seems to really have found his groove with this one! Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy Something Red quite a bit. But where I enjoyed that one, I loved this one! I don't know that I can honestly say that I've ever read a thirteenth-century dark fantasy based book in one sitting, until now. And as with Something Red I turned the final page on The Wicked desperate to get to the next installment, Throne of Darkness, an undeniable indication of just how well this author has hooked me.
The Wicked is dark and suspense driven. It also clues us in further on Molly and Nemain's powers and history. Nemain and Hob's relationship really blossoms in this second title as well, which is nice since they're betrothed at the beginning. Hob's come into his manhood quite nicely and proves to be even more of an asset to the group as well, something Molly apparently foretold when they enlisted him into their family in the first place.
You can absolutely read The Wicked without having read Something Red first, but if I've piqued your interest at all (and you haven't read the Something Red review) you can hit the link above and throw your name in the hat to win a copy of Nicholas's first outing. Be sure to check back tomorrow as well for my review of Throne of Darkness and a chance to win that one as well!