18 May, 2021

[Review] Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Cover image from the goodreads website.

Series or Stand Alone: Kingdom of the Wicked #1
Release Date: 27 October, 2020
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books (Imprint of Little Brown)
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
ISBN: 9781549184055
Edition: Audiobook (also available in hardback and eBook)
Review Written: 22 March, 2021
Warnings: graphic murder, abuse of a corpse, graphic depictions of dead bodies, witchcraft, demon summoning, deadly sins, religious bigotry, toxic relationships
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 that 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… 

See more by Kerri Maniscalco at her website.I wanted to like this book, I really did. I even tried to ignore my own burning hatred of James Patterson (who arguably has absolutely nothing to do with this book except that it's published under his imprint), to enjoy this book. The simple truth of it is, I could not find enjoyment in this title.

Emilia and Vittoria are two streghe, witches, who are living in 19th century Sicily. Their biggest worries in life are trying to find a partner they can share their secret with and their goals of following their passions. Both girls seem to have an incredibly large amount of freedom for two 18 year-olds in this century. Both seem to be able to come and go as they please without any sort of escort, both bounce around their city without a care in the world until Vittoria becomes the third witch to be murdered.

Emilia spirals down into depression, and I will give Maniscalco credit, she did a very good job at showcasing how grief and depression can drive someone to do reckless things. However, Emilia swears vengeance and after discovering strange grimoire pages in her sister's favorite hiding hole in the bedroom, she ends up summoning a demon. Not just any demon, however, she ends up summoning a demon prince of hell. How did she do it? She recovered his dagger when he fled after being caught standing above her sister's body.

Emilia and Wrath begin an investigation, though both seem to try and undermine each other and claim hatred. Throughout the book there's a large amount of sexual tension between the pair, along with 3 of the other Princes of Hell (though there are 7 total, we only see 5 throughout the entire book, and one only in the possession of an individual). In the end Emilia decides the best way she can proceed with finding out who truly ordered the murder of her sister is to become the Queen of Hell.

Emilia's personality is truly infuriating throughout the entire book. She angers over the slightest things, lashing out and being woefully stupider than a sack of rocks. She constantly claims to have the upper hand while in reality being three-miles behind everyone else. Spoiler: She can't even guess that it's Antonio who is murdering everyone. Like really? Come on. Also infuriating is Nona. Emilia's grandmother seems to be in a deep denial about what the birth of twin witches means. She's convinced that as long as she teaches her granddaughters nothing of their heritage but insists on practicing light magic, everything will work out. While she has one badass moment towards the end of the book, Nona is little more than a prop who is supposed to give information but she does it haphazardly and without any reasonable info actually being passed along.

All in all, this series is definitely not one I'll be following. If I really want to know what becomes of Emilia and her marriage to Pride, I'll check the wiki page.

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