Douglas Nicholas' The Wicked will be published by Atria Books/Emily Bestler Books (Simon & Schuster) in March 2014. It's the second novel of the Something Red trilogy.

Information about Douglas Nicholas:

Douglas Nicholas is an award-winning poet whose work has appeared in numerous publications, among them Atlanta Review, Southern Poetry Review, Sonora Review, Circumference, A Different Drummer, and Cumberland Review, as well as the South Coast Poetry Journal, where he won a prize in that publication's Fifth Annual Poetry Contest.

Other awards include Honorable Mention in the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation 2003 Prize For Poetry Awards, second place in the 2002 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards from PCCC, International Merit Award in Atlanta Review's Poetry 2002 competition, finalist in the 1996 Emily Dickinson Award in Poetry competition, honorable mention in the 1992 Scottish International Open Poetry Competition, first prize in the journal Lake Effect's Sixth Annual Poetry Contest, first prize in poetry in the 1990 Roberts Writing Awards, and finalist in the Roberts short fiction division.

He was also recipient of an award in the 1990 International Poetry Contest sponsored by the Arvon Foundation in Lancashire, England, and a Cecil B. Hackney Literary Award for poetry from Birmingham-Southern College. He is the author of Something Red, a fantasy novel set in the thirteenth century, and its sequel, The Wicked; Iron Rose, a collection of poems inspired by and set in New York City; The Old Language, reflections on the company of animals; The Rescue Artist, poems about his wife and their long marriage; and In the Long-Cold Forges of the Earth, a wide-ranging collection of poems.

He lives in New York's Hudson Valley with his wife, Theresa, and Yorkshire terrier, Tristan.

Click here the author's official website.

Information about The Wicked:

The mesmerizing and highly anticipated sequel to Something Red transports readers to the harsh and enchanting world of thirteenth-century England, where a group of unlikely heroes battles an ancient evil.

In the critically acclaimed historical fantasy Something Red, the young warrior Hob, his mentor Jack, the mystical Irish queen Molly, and her powerful granddaughter Nemain travelled far and wide, battling shapeshifters, sorceresses, warrior monks, and otherworldly knights. Now, a new type of evil has come to reside in a castle by the chilly waters of the North Sea. Men disappear and are found as horribly wizened corpses. Warriors ride out and return under a terrible spell. Only Molly, with her healing powers, can save the people from a malevolent nobleman and his beautiful, wicked wife. As all are drawn into battle, the young Hob and his adopted family must vanquish the dark powers before they themselves are defeated.

An unforgettable blend of fantasy, mythology, and horror, The Wicked is just as chilling, beautifully written, and historically rich as Something Red, drawing readers into a world both magical and haunting — where nothing is ever as it seems.

A REVIEW OF DOUGLAS NICHOLAS' THE WICKED

Douglas Nicholas debut novel, Something Red, was published in 2012. It was one of the best and most enjoyable novels of the year, because it was a beautifully written historical fantasy novel that contained intriguing horror elements. Its sequel, The Wicked, is also an excellent and enjoyable novel that will please all readers who enjoyed reading Something Red. All the things that made the previous novel excellent can also be found in this novel. The author continues to delight his readers with beautiful prose, and he also surprises and shocks his readers with macabre horror elements.

Just like its predecessor, The Wicked is historical fantasy that contains horror elements and mythological elements. Douglas Nicholas combines fantasy, horror, mythology and historical fiction with an expert's touch and creates a spellbinding story that will be of interest to everybody loves good literary fiction. There are no faults in this novel, because it's a perfect historical fantasy novel.

I can honestly say that Something Red and The Wicked are two novels, which belong to the small group of novels that have restored my faith in historical fiction. In my opinion most new historical novels have been more or less mediocre and boring, but during the last couple of years I've had a pleasure to read good and well written historical novels that differ from mainstream historical novels. I think that everybody who reads Something Red and The Wicked will think likewise, because they're excellent novels.

Because The Wicked is the second novel in a trilogy, there may be readers out there who wonder if it can be read as a standalone novel. It's possible that it can be read as a standalone novel, because the author briefly tells what has happened to the characters at the beginning of the story, but I think that readers will be able to fully enjoy the story if they're familiar with the characters and their past, so it's good to read the first novel before this one.

I think that readers who aren't used to reading speculative fiction will enjoy and love The Wicked, because it's been written so well that it will fascinate several mainstream readers. It's one of those rare novels that will be of interest to both readerships.

Here's information about the story:

The Wicked tells what happens to the characters after the happenings in Something Red. The events take place a year and a quarter later. Molly, Nemain, Jack and Hob are spending time in Sir Jehan's castle. Sir Jehan has invited Sir Odinell to the castle, because he thinks that Molly might be able to help him and he would be able to help Molly. Sir Odinell tells Molly what has been happening near his castle. He tells that Sir Tarquin and his wife, Lady Rohese, have come to dwell in Duncarlin and fearsome happenings have begun to plague the countryside. He asks if Molly can help him. Molly agrees to help him and she begins to investigate what's going on. What she finds out is truly terrifying...

I have to mention that I love the author's characterization, because he brings each character to life and gradually deepens them. It was delightful to read again about Molly, Nemain, Jack and Hob. It's great that the author continues to develop these characters and reveals more things about them.

Here's a bit of information about the characters:

Molly is an Irish queen who lives in exile in England. She travels around as musician and healer with her ox-driven wagon. She has recently spent quite a lot of time with Sir Jehan. Nemain is her granddaughter, whom she has trained. Jack is still Molly's lover. Hob is now a muscular youth and betrothed to Nemain. He will be trained to become a knight.

Molly is an especially interesting character, because she has a bit mysterious past. She knows many things and she seems to have a calming effect on people. I enjoyed reading about her problems and how she offered help to people. It was great to read how she used her vast knowledge and powers to help others. Reading about her powers was fascinating, because the author revealed more about them in this novel.

Hob is also an interesting character. The author wrote well about how Hob felt about the pagan beliefs and powers of Molly, because he was raised to be Christian. He still felt a bit odd when such things as Goddess were mentioned, but he hardly even noticed them anymore, because he had become used to them. Because he admired Molly and loved Nemain, he didn't pay much attention to these things anymore.

Sir Tarquin and his wife, Lady Rohese, are very intriguing characters, because there's something unsettling about them. It was fascinating to read how Molly's troupe examined them in Sir Odinell's castle and what they found out about them. I'm not going to reveal what they are and what they can do, but I'll mention that they're dangerous and wicked beings that have great powers. It was good that the author showed how dogs reacted to Sir Tarquin, because they could sense that something was wrong with him.

It's good to mention that Douglas Nicholas can also write fluently about animals. It was nice to read how well he wrote about the small terrier, Sweetlove. He also wrote well about Hob's bond with the ox.

Douglas Nicholas writes fluently and addictively about supernatural happenings. It was fascinating to read about the evil presence that had taken residence near Sir Odinell's castle. I also enjoyed reading about the rat hunt, because the rats were truly menacing and unforgettable creatures. They were abnormally big and had strange eyes, because they were familiars and spied on people. (If there are readers out there who don't know what a familiar is, I can briefly mention that a familiar is a supernatural entity that assists people in their use of magic. Familiars serve people who use magic and can be either malevolent or benevolent depending on whom they serve.)

The author has an excellent way of building up suspense and terror. He knows how to keep readers interested in the story by delivering surprises at regular intervals. The strange happenings are being described perfectly, because at first the characters - and also the readers - don't know what's happening and what's causing the strange and unsettling phenomena.

There are several good scenes in this novel. One of my favourite scenes is the scene in which Molly and Lady Rohese stare at each other. It's a perfectly constructed scene and the outcome of it is very rewarding and also surprising. I'm sure that all readers will enjoy this scene.

I enjoyed Douglas Nicholas' poetic prose in the previous novel and I also enjoyed it in this novel, because I've always liked to read rich and poetic prose (it's a pleasure to read this kind of prose). In this novel his prose is perhaps even more stunningly beautiful, poetic and nuanced than in Something Red and that is quite an amazing achievement. If there are readers who like this kind of prose, they're in for a real treat when they begin to read this novel.

In my honest opinion Douglas Nicholas is one of the best writers of literary fantasy, because he writes excellent prose and easily creates an enchanting atmosphere (for example, the scene in which Molly and her troupe spend time with the charcoal burners is a beautifully written and picturesque scene). He has a natural talent for storytelling, because the story flows effortlessly from the first page to the last page and the ending is perfect.

Douglas Nicholas brings the threatening scenes of the story to life by writing vividly about them. He writes fascinatingly about bandits on the road, trouble at the inn, sorcery and other things. He also masterfully adds macabre elements to the storyline. For example, the sight of the body in the rhine was a deliciously macabre sight. It's also worth mentioning that the bodies that washed up on the shore and showed evidence of corruption were quite a macabre and unforgettable sight. The author uses macabre elements sparingly and never overdoes anything - by gradually revealing the horrors that plague the countryside he catches the reader's attention and makes the story addictive.

The Wicked - just like Something Red - is surprisingly rich with historical details about life and living conditions in medieval England. The descriptions of the places, people and happenings are wonderfully realistic and believable. I think the author has done quite a lot of research, because everything feels realistic and it's easy to imagine that people have truly lived the way their lives are being described in the story. The castles, the woods, the sea, the inns etc. are all portrayed in a realistic and compelling way. The author makes the reader feel like he/she is among the characters as they face dangers and travel along the roads and visit inns and castles.

It's easy for readers to see that Douglas Nicholas is interested in history and historical details. It's interesting that he writes about the German Sea, because this term is seldom used nowadays. Those readers who are familiar with history probably know that the German Sea is now called the North Sea. If I'm not mistaken, the German Sea originated from Latin (Mare Germanicum and Oceanus Germanicum) and was used almost until the 19th century.

There are two short glossaries at the end of this novel (a glossary of Irish terms and a glossary of archaims and North England dialect terms). These glossaries are useful to readers, because the characters use Irish terms and archaisms often. Because I've been interested in English and Irish for a long time, it was fascinating for me to read how different terms and words were used in the story.

The cover image looks wonderfully ominous. I can mention that the raven that can be seen in the cover image makes an appearance in the story, but I won't mention how, because I want to avoid writing spoilers.

Because I enjoyed reading The Wicked, I have to mention that I can hardly wait to read the third novel. It'll be fascinating to find out how the story ends and what happens to the characters.

Every once in a while every reader comes across novels that are so beautifully written that it's difficult to describe their beauty to other readers. The Wicked is one these novels. It's a hauntingly beautiful and captivating masterpiece of historical fantasy that will enchant you with its story, historical details and supernatural happenings. It belongs to the bookshelf of every fantasy reader and book lover, and should be read by as many readers as possible.

If you enjoy reading quality novels and historical fantasy, The Wicked is a perfect novel for you. It's a remarkable and unsurpassable novel in terms of prose, atmosphere, characterization and storytelling. It will be one of the best novels of 2014, so you should buy it and read it as soon as possible. I'm sure that if you begin to read this novel in the evening, you'll be reading it all night to find out what happens at the end. Once you start reading this novel, you'll find it very difficult to put it down, because it's perfect escapism.

Highly recommended!

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