If you’re a fan of the steamy relationships and New Orleans setting in The CW’s Originals, then you might want to check out Wicked by Jennifer Armentrout. The first in a trilogy, Wicked has it all: a badass MC, a secret society, a passionate romance, a hot hero, and lots of sex. However, besides the latter, Wicked doesn’t fully deliver on all of its promises. The novel may be a wild ride, but it’s slow-going at the beginning.
Twenty-two year old Ivy Morgan is a college student and fae slayer extraordinaire. Or so she thinks. Ivy’s job was simple: stalk the streets of New Orleans at night, kill the fae who cross her, and protect humans. Until one night she runs into a creature she couldn’t stab and send into the ether. She thinks the ancient fae have returned, but her superiors and friends don’t believe her. Except for Ren, the six-foot-three, green-eyed transfer from Denver, on a mission to destroy the Ancients Ivy knows she saw.
Ivy’s life seems ideal on the surface–she has a steady job with the Order, a charming apartment, an endearing pet Brownie, and Val, her best friend–but she leads a lonely life. Not only did she lose her birth parents, but her adoptive family and boyfriend were killed in a tragedy only three years before. Ivy hasn’t known love in years, but Ren finds his way into Ivy’s private world and challenges her to live again.
Armentrout effectively weaves urban fantasy elements through Wicked: we get many reminders that we are in New Orleans. She gives us a taste of the famous French Quarter and the atmospheric Bourbon Street, with its tourist traps and mouth-watering beignets in every corner café. However, she could have elaborated more on the setting. While Armentrout mentions street names, she doesn’t truly immerse us in the setting. I would not have minded if the setting was more than just a backdrop to Wicked.
The characterization in Wicked was not particularly strong outside of the two main characters. While Ivy’s motivations and emotions made sense, she was definitely a Mary Sue. There weren’t any flaws about Ivy: she’s an attentive friend to Val and never lets her eye stray from her mission with the Order. As tragic as Ivy’s situation is, the story is more of a cliché for it.
However, what really dragged down the book for me was Ren himself. Ren is extremely arrogant. Armentrout constantly makes it a point to tell us that women on the street gawk and throw themselves at him. From the beginning, Ren seems to expect that Ivy will have feelings for him. He also acts suspiciously–I’m still in doubt over whether Ren broke into Ivy’s house.
Let me say it again: Ren is six-foot-three, and the book makes sure to let us know over and over again. It’s nice to read about a handsome man, but there was nothing to relate to in Ren. I know, he’s supposed to be perfect. It’s tempting to write about a man that many women would swoon over in real life. We as readers are supposed to gawk at Ren, too. However, it would have been nice if Ren had real flaws. Or, for once, if the man didn’t have to be skyrocketing over six feet to be considered masculine or attractive.
Besides all of these shortcomings, the strongest moments in Wicked were its love scenes. Ivy and Ren may not have flaws, but their chemistry was sizzling. Every single scene that pits them together is fueled by sexual tension. Their feelings for each other are passionate, and the intimacy they share crackles over the page. It was the love scenes in the novel that brought Wicked back from the point of no return. The writing was also best in the love scenes, which went into exquisite detail, but were not bogged down by crudeness. While the scenes are graphic, Armentrout’s writing was the strongest when she evoked this particular connection between her characters.
In the rest of the novel, I was not as satisfied with her writing. While Ivy’s voice is strong and clear, her inner thoughts are often redundant. Armentrout also descends too far into colloquialisms and doesn’t attempt to explain things beyond the surface.
Fans of Wendy Higgins or Abbi Glines will likely love the book, as it has strong elements of romance. While the book was a fun read, I’m not sure I’ll be returning to the world of Wicked, but I will keep an eye out on Twitter for book two’s cover release to see where Armentrout might take the story next.