REVIEW: The Wicked and the Willing by Lianyu Tan

Verity Edevane needs blood. And not just anyone’s blood. She craves the sweet, salty rush from a young woman’s veins, the heady swirl of desire mixed with fealty—such a rarity in this foreign colony. It’s a lot to ask. But doesn’t she deserve the best?

Gean Choo needs money. Mrs. Edevane makes her an offer Gean Choo can’t refuse. But who is her strange, alluring new mistress? What is she? And what will Gean Choo sacrifice to earn her love?

Po Lam needs absolution. After decades of faithfully serving Mrs. Edevane, Po Lam can no longer excuse a life of bondage and murder. She needs a fresh start. A clean conscience. More than anything, she needs to save Gean Choo from a love that will destroy them all.

Warnings: Violence, Toxic relationships, Dubcon/Noncon, Depictions of racism, Flashbacks to CSA

Category: F/F

Halloween is upon us so it’s time to wrap up the spooky reviews! I have been so looking forward to reviewing this one this month as it’s one of the best vampire novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Having loved the previous book by this same author I knew that I would be in for a treat and she did not disappoint. Thank you to the author for sending me a free review copy, all opinions here are my own and entirely impartial.

WRITING
The story follows three character’s and cycles through each of their POVs; Verity Edevan, a rich madam who’s sinister secret is her inhuman need for blood, and two of the workers in her employ, Gean Choo and Po Lam. The novel follows their relationships as they develop, Gean Choo falling slowly in love with her rich and dazzling employer, even as Verity reveals more and more the sinister truth behind her lifestyle. The writing is gripping and engaging, and very very character driven. The prose is full of a very lush atmospheric quality as the author lovingly builds a plot that is fraught with violence, blood and emotional turmoil. There are also multiple different possible endings to choose from which was a very neat touch- considering this is a story about a kind of love triangle, you get to choose which way you prefer to think of the story having concluded which I’m not sure I’ve seen done before and really loved.

EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT
This book is full of some really well crafted emotional turbulence. It is, after all, primarily about an extremely toxic relationship that builds over the course of the story, increasing in intensity until everything explodes. It is violent, distressing, and haunting- everything I could want from a vampire horror novel. The author builds such a beautiful tension between each character, developing complex emotions all swirling together. Gean Choo comes to both love and fear her employer, and on the flip side of that Verity truly believes that she is being loving and kind to Gean Choo. The cognitive dissonance and unreliable narrator voice is stunningly well crafted, and it was incredible how sympathetic Verity could seem to the reader even as the reader is well aware of how horrible a person she truly is. Po Lam is a wonderfully fleshed out and engaging character as well, and her crisis of conscience and slowly growing care for Gean Choo and how it alters her outlook.

WORLDBUILDING
Set in Singapore in the 20s, this is a novel that beautifully explores its setting and time period. It’s often quite distressing in its realistic depictions of racism in this colonialist society, especially given that there is a power imbalance between Verity and her employees based on her being a rich white woman living in Singapore in the 20s and employing locals as her staff. The racial power structure is not shied away from here so warnings for that. It also explores a very interesting world in terms of the supernatural- not only does it explore some Malay vampire mythos like the inclusion of a Penanggalan amongst the vampires, but it also crafts its own very unique vampire high society for its setting complete with political structures and intrigue. I loved the world of this novel and felt immersed in its setting and environments.

STEAMINESS
Good lord the smut content in this is perfect. It’s full of such a turbulent emotional quality, as the relationship between Gean Choo and Verity ramps up into more and more toxic territory. Their sexual encounters are fraught with power imbalance, fear and seduction. Gean Choo wants Verity and her attentions but at the same time is aware that she is being used, especially as Verity’s sexual attentions includes the drinking of her blood, literally consuming her more and more every time. She knows that she’s in a bad situation but also doesn’t know how to extricate herself from it, despite Po Lam’s urging her to leave with her. It’s perfectly woven to keep your heart racing both with the sensual quality of it and the fear of it at the same time, which is exactly what I want from a vampire novel. There is also an absolutely beautiful torture scene towards the end of the book that had me fully enraptured.

An absolutely fantastic piece of writing, an all around breathtaking vampire story. It’s scary, it’s sexual, it’s full of emotional conflicts and turmoil. It’s the perfect novel for the spooky halloween season, and sure to scratch the lesbian vampire noncon itch.

Have you read The Wicked and the Willing? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!

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