"Even the most degraded and ruined Prodigal is still closer to divinity than are any of us born of Adam's flesh."
Original rating: 3 stars
After rereading (12/12/13): 4 stars
I couldn't appreciate Wicked Gentlemen on my first read, because I had just finished Ginn Hale's Lord of the White Hell series and wanted a similar story. When Wicked Gentlemen gave me something different, I couldn't appreciate the story for what it was. After just finishing my first reread, I was able to enjoy the story a lot more than my first attempt.
In this steam punk, fantasy world, there is a ruling body known as the Inquisition. The Inquisition seem to be a governing body that enforces laws and prosecutes criminals. It just so happens to be that many of these criminals are Prodigals, or in other words: demons. In this overcast world where interrogation and torture by conventional and unique means (i.e. the prayer engines) are used by the Inquisition, Ginn Hale leads us on an adventure between two men. You have William Harper, a captain of the Inquisition - a priest who does not believe, and Belimai Sykes, a Prodigal who is living life through the euphoria of drug addiction caused by torturous means of the Inquisition.
The first half of the story is told from Belimai's first person POV. It deals with a mystery involving Harper's missing sister, Joan. We also learn about Belimai's past while exploring his current intrigue with Harper.
The second half of the story is told from Harper's third person POV. A good portion of it has Harper and Belimai apart. This is also the part when emotions finally spark and my romantic M/M heart flutters. While the romance is subtle in Wicked Gentlemen, it is no less beautiful to see how two very different men can work together.
I think even if I didn't enjoy the plot and characters, Ginn Hale's lyrical prose would have been enough to entertain my inner bookworm. The opening paragraph is a great example of this:
The night hung in tatters. Gas streetlamps chewed at the darkness. Candles cast dull halos through the dirty windows of the tenements across the street. Heavy purple clouds pumped up from smoke stacks and patterned the sky like ugly patches on a black velvet curtain. A few fireflies blinked from what corners of blackness remained.
Absolutely stunning. Now, I just got to wait for her to release the Christmas coda for this book.