Book review: Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Published October 27th 2020 by Jimmy Patterson

Annotation:

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…


My rating:

“Are you sure you’re of House Wrath? If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were general to a vacuous, shirtless battalion belonging to House Narcissism.”

The best thing about Kingdom of the Wicked is banter. I mean, hot steamy ‘from enemies to lovers’ banter is what I am mainly here for.

And for the love of food!

I inhaled the fragrant scent of garlic and butter.
Cooking was magic and music combined. The crack of shells, the hiss of pancetta hitting a hot pan, the metallic clang of a whisk beating the side of a bowl, even the rhythmic thwack of a cleaver against a wooden cutting board. I adored each part of being in a kitchen with my family. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect way to spend an evening.

I want to show my cards beforehand tossing aside a serious face and pretending that I was fascinated by the characters or the world-building. To be fair, Kingdom of the Wicked is nothing new you haven’s read or tasted for that matter. The plot is so rubbed, you could predict every event that is going to happen.
I had.
There is our special snow-flake, who wants to be un-special.

“And you are… intriguing.” I didn’t want to be intriguing.

We have a mysterious man, whose belonging in the romantic interest category is obvious from page one. We have some evil forces that are trying to invade our world.

And round and round we go.

But the thing is, I didn’t mind that all because I was sincerely enjoying the interactions between characters.

He studied me carefully, as if he was imagining what Antonio saw, and slid his focus down inch by inch until he’d taken in everything from my face to my sandals then dragged it back up just as slowly. I had little doubt that he’d catalogued minute details and stored them away for future analysis. Perhaps he was memorizing my size for a coffin.

“There are victors and victims. Decide who you want to be. Or the choice will be made for you, witch. And I doubt you’ll like it.”

I threw my head back and groaned. “It’s a game of scopa, not a battle between life and death. Are you always this dramatic?”

“One day you’ll call me Death.
For now, Wrath will do.”

He caught me staring and raised a brow.
“Enjoying what you see, witch?”
“Only if I had a death wish.”
“Do you?”
“Not even a little one.”

Kingdom of the Wicked is a guilty pleasure type of book for me. I wasn’t impressed with the story but I was sincerely entertained by the book. I rested my tired bones on the pages of this light – despite of faking dark and serious – paranormal/fantasy novel, and even made a few gasps at the plot twists for the sake of propriety.

But perhaps if I was a couple of years unsaturated with similar books – even from Kerri Maniscalco herself, as this book reminded me in many ways of her previous series Stalking Jack the Ripper – you would probably find me fangirling hardcore style *sigh* I am nostalgic about that time.

I couldn’t ignore the fact that Kingdom of the Wicked reminded me, in a way, of Darkfever: supernatural creatures visible only to those with special abilities, a dead sister, and a mysterious man helping the heroine to navigate the politics of the paranormal world. There even was a similar scene involved when the heroine has encountered Lust and literally was ripping her clothes off and the hero had to save her. Well, it was not as brutal as the original one, but I definitely could see where the inspiration came from. Again, I am not making a claim for this book being unoriginal and copying various ideas from other books. It was entertaining and that is all I desired from it.

The only thing I regret dearly is for this book being too PG-13. There was not enough bloody details, especially as the story aimed itself as dark and brutal. For me it was:


You want to be so dark and brutal but you are so cute, oh my god!

All in all, Don’t look too series into the plot and its holes: if you are here for the solid story – better run away. But if you are looking for a light and steamy guilty pleasure read – you are most definitely welcomed to the Kingdom of the Wicked.

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