Title: Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked #1)
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: YA/Dark Fantasy/Romance
Review: This review is going to be spoiler free which isn’t my usual style of writing, so if you want to know my spoiler filled thoughts on Kingdom of the Wicked that review will be going live on release day (October 27th) so stay tuned for that. I didn’t know much about Kingdom of the Wicked going into it, but Kerri Maniscalco is one of my favourite authors, so I had really high expectations for this book given how much I adore the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. We are introduced to Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria at eight years old and we soon learn the twin are streghe or witches and their grandmother, Nonna Maria is trying to protect them from the Princes of Hell (Malvagi or The Wicked) and the Devil but we don’t understand why other than a brief comment about power stolen from the Devil himself.
The twins are eager and curious often wanting to learn more about the Wicked but one night they bring their amulets together which they aren’t supposed to do, and the result effect gives Vittoria the power to see people’s auras, but her twin says nothing. This prologue wasn’t as interesting as the opening chapter to Stalking Jack the Ripper, but we do jump forward 10 years when the twins are 18. As young women, Vittoria is the more outgoing of the twins often disappearing for most of the day, while Emilia is content to work in the restaurant and dream of running her own one day. I wasn’t overly impressed with the opening section of Kingdom of the Wicked but I am eager to see what comes next as Nonna Maria is once again spouting things about the Princes of Hell coming for their souls but the twins don’t really believe in them anymore or they don’t appear too but they need did tell anyone about what happened the night Emilia held Vittoria’s amulet.
As we approach the ¼ mark in the novel, the twins are just enjoying their day to day lives, apart from the fact that two witches have been murdered in less than a week. That night Emilia is heading to the monastery to retrieve the items she left behind on her last visit when she comes across a man, hovering over the body of a young woman which isn’t uncommon but all of Emilia’s senses are telling her that there is something wrong with this situation. When the man flees, Emilia discovers he was standing over her sister’s body and vows revenge despite the protests of her family. Things are starting to get interesting, but Emilia wasn’t my favourite of the twins, so I am not sure how I feel about following her. While Emilia thinks it over there is no doubt that she is going to summon a demon to help her, she is planning to summon a lesser demon as the only way to summon a higher demon like the Princes of Hell is to have an object of theirs in your possession at the time of the summoning. The summoning works but Emilia ends up summoning Wrath, one of the Princes of Hell as the dagger belonged to him and he is now bound to her until she releases him.
As we cross the ¼ mark in the novel, not much has happened aside from Vittoria’s death and Wrath’s summoning so I am hoping things will start picking up soon. Upon summoning Wrath, it is clear that these two aren’t going to get along if the vicious barbs are anything to go by, but Wrath also knows that Emilia knows little to nothing about what she is and her value to the demon Princes. As time passes, Emilia interacts with more of the Demon Princes and realises that things are far more complicated than they first appeared.
As we approach the halfway mark in the novel, I have to say that the murder mystery element and the spreading out of the clues was smoother in Stalking Jack the Ripper than it is here, but I do find the Princes of Hell intriguing and want to see more of them, also I want to know what a shadow witch is and why Vittoria and Emilia are so desired by the Princes of Hell. After some rather eventful things happen, the pair come to a tentative alliance for the time being, but the pieces are starting to come together for Emilia, but she hasn’t worked out yet which of the Princes her sister was trying to summon. All the evidence points to Greed but there isn’t any evidence of him being in the room where Vittoria’s body was found and Wrath found no evidence in her blood that she had aligned herself with a House, so they have to start working a different angle if they are going to find out who killed Vittoria and why.
As we cross into the second half of the novel, Emilia has also seemingly figured out a way to kill the Princes of Hell, but I don’t think it is as simple as she is making out. It turns out it isn’t that simple but not even Emilia is willing to find out what it would take to kill Wrath or one of the other Princes. We see the relationship between Wrath and Emilia build slowly into a friendship of sorts as they work together to try and find out who is killing the potential brides of Pride before the offers can even be made to them. They manage to track down one of the messengers and it was nice to see Wrath give Emilia some approval which is a massive deal coming from someone who feeds of power and the thrill of battle. At this point in the book I was also expecting a little bit more from the relationship between Wrath and Emilia other than the childish bickering and the longing stares, but I am working with it.
As we approach the ¾ mark in the novel, I was waiting for something big to happen which Kerri seems to be good at doing towards the end of her books. We are getting to the part in the book now, where the pace and tension should be picking up to head towards the climax of the novel and I am eager to see what Kerri has in store for me (please say it’s a love confession – I’m a sucker for them especially in enemies to lovers). We do see some development in the relationship between Emilia and Wrath but not in the way I wanted, and Emilia seems to be constantly changing her mind on how she feels about Wrath which at times felt like it was giving me whiplash.
As we cross into the final section of the novel, we finally see all the pieces of the puzzle come together as Emilia unravels not only her family history, but the history of her line of witches and does what needs to be done. While Kingdom of the Wicked as a good entry to a new series, it didn’t grip me as much as stalker Jack the Ripper did and I didn’t quite connect with the characters until the end of the novel. The romance that was also teased throughout this novel didn’t really come to anything but that does have the potential to change in future entries in this series. Overall, I felt Kingdom of the Wicked was good, not amazing, but good and I will be reading the next instalment just with see where things go from here but right now I am on the fence about whether I genuinely liked this book or whether it was just a little meh compared to the other books Kerri has written.
Buy it here:
Kindle Edition: amazon.co.uk
I received this copy for review consideration from Terminal Tours.
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