Review: Wicked City: The Scarlet Clan

By Lyndsey Holder

Kikuchi, Hideyuki. Wicked City: The Scarlet Clan. Tor/Seven Seas (November 2010). 222pp. $10.99 USD. ISBN: 978-0765323323.

Things aren’t going so well for Taki. A member of the Black Guard, an organization that protects humans from the ongoing threat of otherworldly evil, his amped-up psychic powers have always kept him safe when saving the world from demons bent on mass destruction. Now, however, his demon wife (You can tell she’s a demon because she’s totally hot) is pregnant (She’s not showing, though – a big, round belly might take away from her demonic sexiness) with a baby that is so amazing and fantastic, the most terrifying and powerful demon clan in all of ever has been summoned to ensure it is never born.

I may sound like I’m being sassy here, but what you read as “sass”, I like to think of as “capturing the tone of the book”. For best results, this book should be read with the same sort of expectations that you would have going into an action movie. Turn your brain off and grab a bowl of popcorn for maximum enjoyment. Thinking about the story too hard will only cause you to fall headfirst into one of the many plot holes, some of which are so deep that they’ll trap you forever, ruining your chance of ever finding the fun in the book.

This book unfortunately suffers from the problem inherent in most translated books – awkward syntax. Wicked City: The Scarlet Clan is not as clumsy as some translated books are, but there is a perceptible choppiness to its verbiage, a decided lack of flow that is sometimes jarring.

The action sequences, however, are engaging and the characters are interesting. Taki’s friends in the Black Guard all have their own personalities and backstories – they aren’t just throw-away, cardboard cutouts. Makie (Taki’s ultra-saucy demon wife) did begin to grate after a while, however, as it seems as though her two main abilities are being ridiculously gorgeous and being a bright, flashing beacon to attract powerful bad guys. Also, did I mention she’s hot?

I feel like I need to mention that this doesn’t seem like a story meant for women. There aren’t any female characters who aren’t put there for the use of men in one way or another, which is easy enough to ignore, as that’s a common feature of action-oriented stories with male protagonists. However, it was the rape sequence that really seemed to underline this fact for me. It underlined it, put it in bold, italicized it, increased the font size 40 points and made the whole thing blink.

Here is a bit of advice, which you can take or leave: when you are writing a book, a short story, or even a television show or movie, and you want to show that someone or some group of people is really, really evil, show it in a way that doesn’t involve rape. Or, more specifically to this book, show it in a way that doesn’t involve a zombie rape orgy where the women on the receiving end of the raping end up enjoying it and the heroes stand by stupidly and watch.

If you really must write such a thing, though, don’t spoil an otherwise-good story with it. Make that the entire plot of the book and call it Zombie Rape Orgy 2000 so at least it won’t be surprising that suddenly, every female you’ve encountered in the book (except the super-sexy one), plus hundreds you never heard about before, are horribly brutalized.

In short, Wicked City: The Scarlet Clan is an enjoyable, action-packed romp that is a lot of fun to read for the first 200 pages.

Wicked City: The Scarlet Clan can be purchased through Amazon.com.