I've been a big fan of Kerri Maniscalco ever since I read her Stalking Jack the Ripper series, so I've been eagerly awaiting her latest release, Kingdom of the Wicked. It definitely has a bit of a darker vibe, but I'm so here for it.
|Pub Date: 10-27-20|
YA - Fantasy
Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria have grown up listening to their grandmother's tales of demons and princes of Hell. The twins have never fully believed in the dangers of these stories, but being witches themselves, have still taken every precaution to hide their abilities from those in their Italian town who would wish to bring them harm. After a brutal string of murders occur where young witches have been found with their hearts ripped out, Emilia is more on edge than ever. When Vittoria misses dinner service at their family's restaurant, Emilia goes in search and finds her twin's body desecrated in the local monastery. Beside herself with grief and seeking revenge, Emilia does the one thing her grandmother always warned them about: she summons a demon.
Believing her summoning spell would bring forth a low-level demon, Emilia is shocked when instead she gets Wrath, one of the seven Wicked princes of Hell her grandmother has specifically told them to avoid. Wrath claims to be on Emilia's side and has his reasons for tracking down who's been murdering witches, but Emilia can't put aside this nagging feeling in her gut that something is wrong. The pair strike a deal to work together, and soon Emilia discovers a warmth to Wrath she wasn't expecting, but like she's been told since she was young, the Wicked are not always what they seem. Despite her misgivings, Emilia will do whatever it takes to avenge her sister, even if that means losing her soul in the process.
I really enjoy Maniscalco's writing, so I was looking forward to this one and it was so fun! This had a lot going for it: the setting was amazing, all the mentions of food had my mouth watering the entire time; the characters were well-developed and I loved Emilia and Wrath together, their banter was my favorite part; and most of all, the story itself was engaging. I loved the idea of a witch and a prince of Hell having to work together to solve a mystery. They had such a slow burn-will-they-won't-they thing happening and I couldn't get enough. That said, I did have a few issues with this. For one, it was a bit obvious who was behind the mystery itself so the big reveal at the end didn't have as much of an impact. Another thing was I found Emilia's grandma to be so frustratingly vague about their background to where it was detrimental to Emilia. So many moments could've gone better had she just been straight up with Emilia. Aside from that, I was still fully invested in this and can't wait to see what the next one has in store.