Review: There Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked by Gina Gambetta

There Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked by Georgina Gambetta: A fun, suspenseful rush of crime, sex and scandal.

In her short story There Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked, fellow CUB writer Gina Gambetta packs in a hurtling ride. Sharing a title with Cage the Elephants’ 2008 song, both pieces feature characters that stop at nothing to get what they want. Swaggering, snarky and smooth, the tune provides the perfect backdrop for Gambetta’s novella.

Melody Wood— Mel to her friends and readers— receives a letter that alters the course of her life. Up until this point she has been living with Aunty, vividly described as ‘tall as the sky and as round as the sun’, before she receives a letter from her long absent father, who is eager to reunite.

A young man arrives at her doorstep to take her to her new life and Mel soon discovers the rich and lavish way in which the other half live. However, readers come to realise that not all is as it seems as they discover dark inner workings orchestrating events. Confronted with a new lifestyle, new friends and new enemies, Mel’s life is quickly set off kilter.

She doesn’t paint this picture with any self-pity or tragedy but with a brash, bold comedic flair. Mel’s extroverted, conversational voice grounds this narrative which deviates dramatically from ordinary life. Whether she’s facing the barrel of a gun or shocking news, we hear events through her resilient, almost buoyant expression. This keeps the novel darkly comic. It never takes itself too seriously whilst retaining authenticity. It feels strange to say that Gambetta even incorporates a Pride and Prejudice-esque romance into this chaos. Mel’s relationship with Edward, son of her father’s business partner who escorts her to this new life, is full of entertaining misunderstandings and squabbles that light-heartedly cut through the mystery.

As Mel discovers more about her family and new acquaintances, the plot quickly hurtles the readers along its revelations of scandal and crime. It’s this fun, fast pace that impacts when you’ve finished a chapter. Like an earworm manifested into words, Gambetta’s words linger on the mind. If her story was brought to life on Netflix, it would be binged in a single setting, each scene dissolving into the next, leaving the reader unable to pause.

The plot can sometimes move too fast, a paragraph might hurdle through the fate of a character’s life in a blink of an eye, or stall in places, perhaps taking a moment too long to describe someone’s attire— leaving the reader a little lost. However, with a plot that waits for no one, these are quibbles that can be adjusted to work in harmony amidst the enjoyable chaos.

Like a barely commissioned rollercoaster, There Aint No Rest for the Wicked yanks its reader along daring shocks and twists that last till the very end. A sugar rush of entertaining revelations and characterisation, Gambetta’s early work is incredibly promising. I cannot wait to see what the future brings for this budding author and I am proud to be part of the CUB team with her.

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