All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love.
But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?
“True love is freedom, loving someone enough to do what’s best for them–to let them go.”
When she was younger, Iris could see flowers and the rest of the world as flowers, could blow beautiful glass. All the women in her family have had this sort of gleam, the ability to manipulate beauty. Now that power is all but gone.
Working in her mother’s bakery in a little sea side town, Iris detests her mother, the woman who forbid her from using her gift and from loving. The only things she really has going for her are her twin sister, Malina, and her best friend, Luka, who brings her flowers that still bring about the gleam. She just wants to get out and visit Japan, where the father she’s never known is from, but that all changes when her mother is attacked. The attack is only the first of a stage of mysterious happenings and dreams that bring about a journey that reveals terrifying secrets about the sisters’ family.
Wicked Like A Wildfire started out painfully slow. I was constantly getting bored and setting down the book in the beginning, and things didn’t really start getting interesting until much later on. There was also something about the fluffy, purple prose writing style that made it drag and hard to get through, and honestly, the beginning half of this book alone would probably be a 2 star.
The later half and climax, on the other hand, made up for the beginning. The climax was crazy, and I just flew through the ending, not knowing what was going to happen and needing to learn! And the cliffhanger…I will definitely be getting my hands on book two when it comes out!
I enjoyed how complex all the characters were. Iris is portrayed as a “bad girl” in the beginning who gets drunk at parties and has casual hookups, which I don’t usually see in YA, so it was fun to read about. However, as the story progressed, it became increasingly clear that she was so much more than she seemed on the surface. This is true of the other characters as well! It’s easy to hate Iris’s mother in the beginning, but as Iris learns more about her past, what’s good and bad becomes increasingly muddled.
I love the diversity and representation in this book! Iris and Malina’s father, who is never met, was Japanese, and I love how Iris wants to pursue the heritage she doesn’t even know about. (Note: as someone named Kay Wisteria I feel a special love for Iris and her love of wisteria flowers). There’s a lesbian relationship between two main characters, and I’m pretty sure there will be an even greater focus on it in the next book. And, of course, the wonderful setting of Montenegro!
I really enjoyed the romance in this one too! It just made my heart so happy and squealy! I fear there may be a love triangle in the sequel, but I’m just going to enjoy this one for the time being.
One complaint is that I’m not really 100% sure how the magic/gleam really works. I understand it well enough to understand the plot, but I feel like it was kind of underdeveloped, and would have liked to learn more about it.
3.5 out of 5 glassy stars
You can also read my review on Goodreads here.