Review: Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

I was sent an eARC copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb: 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…

Title: Kingdom of the Wicked

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Review:

Emilia’s heard tales of the Wicked all her life, never really believing her nonna’s stories. But when she finds her twin sister’s lifeless body, she has no choice but to start believing. Followed by demons and more than one Prince of Hell, can she find out who killed her sister? Or is it all much, much bigger than that?

I’m going to really have to try not to ramble with this one because I loved it so much! I was drawn in right from the start – the characters are likeable and believable, the sisters have a fun relationship and we get some delicious hints at the darkness that awaits us. We get to see the warmth of the family’s restaurant contrasted with the coldness of the monastery and the descriptions and writing style had me right there with Emilia. There’s a bit of everything in this book, from seductive Princes to demon snakes, a suspicious brotherhood of monks and some real dark magic, for me, this is fantasy at its best.

The plot moves at a good pace, with new and interesting details being revealed at the right times to keep Emilia’s mission on track. We’re introduced to new key characters every few chapters to keep our brains ticking and their introduced in the most fantastic of ways. I felt this in particular with the Princes of Hell – whether it’s in a summoning circle of bones and blood, in a smoky gambling den guarded by demons or in a shadowy back alley where no one can hear you scream, the settings and descriptions were distinctive enough to not get them confused. This can be easily done but I really appreciated the attentiveness the author paid to this aspect. Speaking of characters, we don’t see much of Emilia’s parents but I feel like I could pick her nonna out of a line up! She’s so well described right down to the smallest details and that’s something I really love about Maniscalco’s writing style – she’s obviously spent a lot of time with these characters and knows them inside out.

As for what I disliked, there’s really not much to note. My only gripe was part of the ending. Without giving too much away, Emilia makes a deal at the end of the book which confused me a little as it all happened very suddenly. It’s also a scene where we meet a character for the first time and it left me wanting something a bit more from it. However, this does work pretty well to set us up for a sequel (which I have everything crossed for) so maybe there’s more to it than I managed to figure out.

Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough to anyone who’s into dark fantasy stories with everything from mysterious Princes of Hell to a healthy dose of blood and gore all wrapped up with a fearless heroine and a few bloodthirsty demons for good measure!

Rating: 4.5/5

Recommend?: Yes


Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!

You can always find me over on Twitter if you’d like to discuss this book (or any others that I’ve featured) in more detail 😌

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