Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri ManiscalcoKingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked, #1) by Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Kingdom of the Wicked #1
Published by Jimmy Patterson Books
Published on 27 October 2020
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 372
Format: Paperback
Source: my local library
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RRP: $19.99
4 Stars

Two sisters.
One brutal murder.
A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself...
And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe - witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family's renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin...desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister's killer and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that's been long forbidden.
Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked—princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia's side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women's murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems...

So I kind of missed the hype on this book (as I so often do). It was published in 2020 and it has, as of March 2024, over a quarter of a million ratings on Goodreads, which means more than that many have read the book. I actually wasn’t even that interested in reading this book, I actually wanted to read Throne of the Fallen, the adult spin-off. However, after seeing that it was a spin-off, I saw some people recommending reading the Kingdom of the Wicked trilogy first.

I’m glad I did! The book started off fairly slow for me, and I wasn’t really feeling engaged. However, I found that the more I read, the more I enjoyed it, and the more engaged I felt. By the time Emilia ran into the second Prince of Hell, I felt like I was happy to continue reading. By about roughly one-third of the way through the book, I was definitely feeling good about it.

I liked Emilia, but I do in general have reservations regarding really soft magic systems where a character can basically do anything they can think of. My personal preference is for more hard magic systems with established rules that can’t be broken. So after Emilia had successfully summoned a demon and bound him to do her bidding, I was interested. I was less interested when she kept yo-yoing him back and forth in an attempt to deny her attraction, and then something happened at the end that just seemed so over the top within the established rules of this magic, such as ‘you need certain ingredients and certain words to cast a spell’ so you shouldn’t suddenly be able to do random magic without gathering ingredients and speaking a spell. Like I said, I don’t really like it when characters can do anything they think of. I did quite like the worldbuilding around the witches, and the location being in (albeit a very different version of) Italy.

I liked the banter between Emilia and Wrath, though it was obvious how into her he was. Because of this, personally, I didn’t feel it was particularly romantic (more attraction-based) but I do understand how this is being sold as enemies-to-lovers. I also don’t consider it particularly ‘steamy’, despite Emilia being eighteen. A couple of kisses and some appreciation for physical appearance. Your mileage will vary!

I was very into the murder mystery plot and I loved Emilia literally thinking through her problems and coming up with solutions, and piecing together the clues. I was highly engaged by each of the demon princes embodying one of the seven deadly sins. I adored watching Emilia rise from this hidden witch to embrace this world’s version of Hell in a bid to exact her vengeance. I’m excited to read the second book because of this.

Nemo
Nemo

About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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