When I was in high school, I used to volunteer at a library shelving books that had been returned. The mass majority of the ones always ended up being James Patterson. Every section you went into there were massive sections for James Patterson. Children’s, Teens, Fiction, Non-Fiction… you name it, James Patterson would have rows upon rows of books. So, when I saw this Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco was a James Patterson Presents Novel, I was curious. Not only that, but it kept coming up in my recommendations alongside Stalking Jack the Ripper by the same author. One day I’ll get to that book series, but I figured I would go to Kingdom of the Wicked first since the second book was just released and I was trying to hold off until the whole series was complete. Now, I don’t know if it ends after the second book but that was the book I was waiting to come out before starting this series.
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…
- Published: October 27, 2020
- Page Count: 401 pages
- Genre: YA Dark Fantasy and Historical Romance
Thoughts on Kingdom of the Wicked
Spoiler Free… for the most part
This story is told in the 1st POV of Emilia di Carlo in Sicily, Italy in the area of Palermo. The exact year the book takes place in is unknown just that witch hunts are common, phones aren’t a thing, and some dresses have corsets. Emilia has a twin sister named Vittoria, who loved hearing about the Princes of Hell and often joked about marrying one. So, Emilia didn’t take her sister seriously when she came home one night saying she agreed to marry the devil. Only to find out the next day, her sister has been brutally murdered and a diary that Emilia once peeked inside is now spelled shut by demon magic.
Emilia after coming out of her grief decides her own way forward is to find out who murdered her sister, why it happened, and intact revenge. This eventually leads her into summoning a demon herself who turns out to be one of the Princes of Hell, Wrath. Only in her containment spell, she unwittingly became betrothed to him instead of getting protection from him hurting her. Though she doesn’t learn this until weeks later as the two eventually agree to work together to figure out who is murdering witches in Palermo. As the two are marked with an ever-growing and changing tattoo on their forearm, and he gave her an additional mark that allows her to summon him at will on her neck. Though what those two things mean is still kind of a mystery by the conclusion of the book.
Turns out Wrath isn’t the only Prince in town. Envy, Greed, and Lust are also in the same area each with their own agenda. Some wanting to help Pride (the devil) escape his curse, while others want to prevent that from happening. Not only are the Princes something to deal with, but other demons are also escaping with the weakened state of the gates to Hell, and the brotherhood from the local monastery is set on ridding the world of evil (i.e. getting rid of witches). Most of them are after a thing called the Horns of Hades, which are the literal horns of the devil which were turned into protection charms that Emilia and Vittoria have been wearing their entire lives. Emilia only learns of this after losing her protection charm and recovering her sister’s from a serpent demon.
By the time the book concludes, a lot is left unanswered. We learn who one of the individuals involved in Vittoria’s murder is but it’s clear they have an accomplice. Though they state they don’t know who it is. Emilia also makes a bargain with one of the Princes of Hell (not saying which), and her plan on what she’s going to do is a complete mystery. Only that we know she’s going to hell to continue her revenge and possibly no longer has the Horns of Hade. As I mentioned, her status with Wrath is also unknown at the end of the book. It’s not clear if she is in love with him or hates him or feels betrayed by him. I think it’s a combination of the three, but I have a feeling their relationship is going to be explored further in the next book. As even if she goes towards House Pride, I doubt things are over with Wrath by a long shot. I think he’s playing some game as well, but can’t outright tell her what it is until the terms of how the book ends.
I’m going to be starting Kingdom of the Cursed next to see what happens as I’m really curious to see where the series go. Something tells me the series does not end after this book and I’ll be waiting for another book afterward. But I could be wrong. Emilia might accomplish everything she set out to do at the end of the book. I’m guessing it’s figuring out which Prince helped the human involved in her sister’s death and sealing the gates of hell. But maybe Emilia has more in mind when she gets there.
She’s an interesting protagonist. She starts off very sweet just wanting to experiment with food. Then drastically changes over the course of the book. Some of the changes and the way she concluded things were a bit of a jump. Something that she’s called out for numerous times. And some of the transitions between events seemed a little awkward, but it was still very enjoyable to read. Granted, some of those times were a result of one of the Princes using their power on her. So, one moment she’s acting one way, then there’s a sudden jolt as she takes a 180. But some of the investigation points outside of those are where things get a little muddled. I have a feeling it’s due to the holes that haven’t been explained yet though, so I hope we get answers to them in the next book.
Overall, I would give Kingdom of the Wicked a 3.5 out of 5-star rating.
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