Thursday, October 29, 2020

#Review - Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco #YALIT #Fantasy #Historical

Series: Kingdom of the Wicked (#1)
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: October 27, 2020
Publisher: JIMMY Patterson
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Dark Fantasy

A James Patterson Presents Novel

From the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series comes a new blockbuster 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...


Kingdom of the Wicked is the first installment author Kerri Maniscalco's new series which is set in 19th century Palermo, Italy. The setting really adds depth to this story since it features important landmarks, Sicilian cuisine, and culture. Two sisters, Vittoria and Emilia DiCarlo have been taught by their nonna (Grandmother) about the Seven Demon Princes of Hell. The Wicked or Malvagi, as they are called are Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride. For the sake of this story, Wrath, Greed, Envy, and Pride are the four she focuses on.

“One will crave your blood, one will capture your heart, one will steal your soul, and one will take your life.”

Emilia is the introverted one while Vittoria is the more adventurous one and isn’t too careful about keeping their identities hidden. The sisters live in a world where being a witch can get you killed. In fact, the story begins with an incident that happened when the sisters were (8) years old that will linger for years to come. 10 years later, (2) young women, likely witches, are found murdered in two different cities. Emilia finds Vittoria’s body soon thereafter in a very unexpected place. As Emilia reels from the loss of her other half, she starts to realize that maybe Vittoria didn't take their grandmother's warnings as seriously as she did—and maybe those "stories" of the Wicked demon princes have more than a grain of truth in them.

As Emilia sets out to find her sister's killer, she gets more than she bargained for when she summons Wrath, a prince of Hell himself. Wrath offers to help Emilia but only if she bounds herself to him for the duration to protect her from harm. She also learns about a dreaded ancient prophecy concerning the Devil and twins which seems to be coming to fruition. Deciphering the dark magic spell her sister put at her diary puts her on a crash course which she may not have any avenue but to do the unexpected. Soon, Emilia's efforts to find her sister's killer get her deeply involved with several other Princes of Hell trying to break the curse; specifically, Greed and Envy. 

As Emilia uncovers clues as to who killed Vittoria and why, she discovers the person responsible for killing her sister may be closer than she realized. (In fact, I guessed who the killer was pretty early in the book.) She’s stubborn despite her fear when she finds herself face to face with more than one demon prince. Each time she encounters them she learns something new about herself in the process. Emilia was strong lead character, but she rushes into dire situations headfirst even if it wasn’t always the best decision. She was both a strong female protagonist, but also flawed.

Wrath was front and center in this story from the moment he graced us with his presence. He's dangerous, he's got an agenda, he toys with Emilia terribly after she accidentally summons him from Hell, and he's probably the reason for most of Emilia's issues since she couldn't focus on other things that were happening around her. For those who love Enemies to Lovers tropes, this ones for you. However, I am not settled on whether Wrath is any better than his brothers, including Pride who is looking for a witch bride to break the curse.

There are Italian words and phrases sprinkled throughout the narrative, this adds a level of culture to the feel of the story. I have to say that as an Italian, who has visited Sicily while I was in the US Navy, I loved the different varieties of food that are mentioned throughout this book. If I could somehow transport myself into the book, I would be totally eating my heart’s content. One thing about Italians, we don't settle for just one meal. We have 6 different courses one right after the other. The other thing that makes this book more realistic is that the author's great-grandmother immigrated from Sciacca, Sicily to the US bringing a wealth of information to the table. 


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