Kingdom of the Feared
by Kerri Maniscalco
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Book 3 in the Kingdom of the Wicked series
Emilia is reeling from the shocking discovery that her twin sister, Vittoria, is alive.
But before she faces the demons of her past, Emilia yearns to claim her king, the seductive Prince of Wrath, in the flesh. Emilia doesn’t simply desire his body, she wants his heart and soul—but that’s something the enigmatic demon can’t promise her.
When a high-ranking member of House Greed is assassinated, Emilia and Wrath are drawn to the rival demon court. Damning evidence points to Vittoria as the murderer and she’s quickly declared an enemy of the Seven Circles. Despite her betrayal, Emilia will do anything to solve this new mystery and find out who her sister really is.
Together Emilia and Wrath play a sin-fueled game of deception as they work to stop the unrest that’s brewing between witches, demons, shape-shifters and the most treacherous foes of all: the Feared.
Emilia was warned that when it came to the Wicked nothing was as it seemed. But, have the true villains been much closer all along? When the truth is finally revealed, it just might end up costing Emilia her heart.
A reckoning all have feared.
And a love more powerful than fate. All hail the king and queen of Hell.
A reckoning all have feared.
And a love more powerful than fate. All hail the king and queen of Hell.
If you have read reviews on Kingdom of the Cursed and Kingdom of the Wicked, you will know that I wasn't crazy over these books. I was definitely intrigued by the plot, but there was so much that didn't make sense. So what a surprise, that I read the final book in the trilogy, and I actually enjoy it. Maybe even more than enjoyed it. Because some things that didn't make sense before, FINALLY come together here, and it makes me appreciate the last two books a little bit more.
In the first two books, my main issue was Emilia. Her erratic emotions, her back and forth with Wrath, always angry - even when she shouldn't be. But finally we learn why she is this way - and yes, spoilers ahead - she is the Goddess of Fury. And being spell-locked, along with her twin sister Vittoria, and being raised as a human witch, those two personalities were at constant war at one another. Her fury over the simplest of things didn't make sense, until we learn of the goddess within. I had always found her character grating, but after she gets her memories back, once she is her, I found her much more likeable. More steady and less chaotic.
Did anyone else get Bella Swan waking up after being turned vampire vibes after Vittoria took out Emilia's mortal heart?
Another character I ended up liking - Vittoria. I was sure she was going to end up bad, but while her methods were ... unorthodox, she ended up being enjoyable. A bit cold, but I figure we will find out a lot more about her in future books. Because yes, there will be more. This trilogy might be done, but by the sounds of it, Kerri will either do a book for each brother, or at least for Pride and Lucia, or Pride and Vittoria, or Vittoria and Envy. Kerri wasn't exactly subtle, with a whole chapter pretty much spoon feeding the reader on the loose ends - romantically, and with the Star Witches, Vampire Court, and Greed ...
There was a moment that I almost gave up on the book. A true, rage inducing moment. The moment Emilia gave up her powers so that Wrath could have his full power, and wings. I mean - yes. A beautiful sacrifice for love. But for once, can the man sacrifice for the woman? I was so close to the end, I continued, and luckily it was sorted out in the end, but for a moment, I thought I found the one thing that ruined the whole book for me.
The best part of this book was the romance though. Finally, FINALLY, Wrath and Emilia have sex. Blue ovaries are a thing, and I think Kerri took sick pleasure out of torturing her readers. But it happened. It was great. It was surprisingly hot for a book sold in the young adult section. I'm not opposed to teenagers reading books with sex on page, but even I felt like this book pushed the boundaries a bit. But for me, a woman in my thirties - HOT. I really felt the chemistry between Wrath and Emilia in this book, and I think Emilia having access to who she is really cemented that for me.
While I wasn't a fan of the first two books, I was obviously invested enough to preorder the third book, and read it. And I'm glad I did. It is easily the best book in the trilogy, and it leaves me excited for what more Kerri has cooked up for us. Would I prefer if she would switch genres from YA to NA? Sure. I think it would be less angsty and the sex would be more fitting for this world, but frankly, it didn't seem to affect Kingdom of the Feared, so what do I know?
Emilia: "I know I'm your prisoner. I know Wrath will hunt you down and rip you limb from limb if any harm comes to me. And there isn't a single realm you can hide in before he finds you. That is, if I don't get you first. He is the merciful one. Keep that in mind."
Emilia: "You have five minutes to explain yourself."
When I spoke, my voice was colder than the air around us, colder than even the most wicked circle of Hell. I swore the shadows paused before skittering into nothingness, hiding from the great reckoning they sensed coming.
Vittoria: "And then?"
My smile was a beautiful nightmare. For the first time, Vittoria's brow creased as if she'd just realized there was one fatal flaw in her plan. Monsters could be created but never tamed.
Emilia: "And then, dear sister, you'll meet the witch you forced me to become."
Wrath: "What are you doing?"
A coy smile curved my lips as I unfastened his trousers.
Emilia: "Conquering, your majesty."
Emilia: "Did you -"
Lust: "See you blow my brother until he questioned his belief in the Divince?"
A devious smile curled the edges of his lips.
Lust: "Let's just say I was impressed, Shadow Witch. And that's saying a lot for the lord of pleasure."
Emilia: "That was not what I was going to ask."
I shot him a nasty look as Wrath assisted me off the boat.
Emilia: 'Did you use your influence on us?"
Lust: "Didn't need to. You both greedily went after your pleasure on your own. That little tableau was all you - and our demonic host. If it makes you feel better, I called out several times. I assumed you wanted the attention, so I gave it.
Emilia: "Prince Wrath, please say hello to the Duke of Devon."
Wrath flashed his teeth.
Wrath: "Fuck off, Devon."
Emilia: "Was I wicked enough to fool a prince of Hell?"
I ran my hands over my barely there top, allowing one strap to fall down.
Emilia: "Better yet ... was I wicked enough to entice the devil?"
Wrath cursed gods I'd never heard of as I sauntered closer. He looked like he was a breath away from pouncing. I practically felt the tension snapping between us, and I leaned into it.
Wrath took a small step toward me, his gaze locked onto mine. The hunter had come out to play.
Wrath: "Tell me you want this."
My attention ran over him, slowly and thoroughly. I hadn't forgotten that anger acted as an aphrodisiac to him. Hadn't forgotten how it also made me feel.
Emilia: "Right now, I want the demon, not the prince. Show me why they call you the Wicked."
I grabbed his shirt and tugged him to me, my lips hovering above his.
Emilia: "And don't you dare hold back."
Wrath: "If you change your mind -"
I spun around and cut him off with a violent kiss.
Emilia: "Stop again, even for a second, and I promise we'll test your fondness for knife play, demon."
Wrath's answering smile promised deviance.
Wrath: "When I saw you on that idiot's lap, soaking wet and nearly coming, I wanted to fuck you right there. In front of the whole damned court."
The way he growled, low and rough like his very un-princelike words, set my blood on fire. I pressed against him, needing to feel him as I went up on my toes and whispered,
Emilia: "I would have let you."
Wrath: "Tell me what you see. Who you see."
Glittering rose-gold irises steadily gazed back at me. A mark of my true power. Though part of me wasn't as surprised as I ought to be. Maybe deep down, where the curse couldn't sink its claws in, I'd always known. There was a reason I was aligned best with my sins of choice.
Celestia's words drifted back to m from the night I'd met her in the Bloodwood Forest; the Crone had said Wrath was my mirror. I'd suspected then but couldn't reconcile the truth of how.
Now the truth was staring back at me, waiting.
Emilia: "I see fury."
My fire. My anger. That ancient, terrible power I'd only barely scratched the surface of. They all belonged to me.
Emilia: "I see the goddess who rules it."
Wrath: "I see my equal. My queen."
Wrath: "If you die on me now, I'll hunt you down and drag you back."
Emilia: "Sounds rather threatening."
Wrath: "It's a fucking promise, my lady."
Emilia: "I love you, too."
Vittoria: "My sister would never harm me."
Envy: "Oh, this is amusing."
Envy tossed his head back and laughed.
Envy: "Let me see if I've got this right - you maimed her love, injured her with your overgrown lapdogs, set her in a cage, and believe she's not plotting to find her way back to him and destroy you if you stand in her way?"
Vittoria: "She would never."
Vittoria bristled. Though the look she cut in my direction seemed less certain.
Vittoria: "We're blood."
Envy: "And he is her fate. As she is his. 'As above, so below.' They are the balance. Light and dark. One fallen from above, and one created in the underworld below."
Envy's spine straightened, and all his amusement vanished. Something inside me clicked into place. His words felt right - like a key siding into a lock.
Envy: "Did you not listen to a word I said when you'd invaded my House and fucked my second? You cannot win against love. It is a force more powerful, more terrifying, than any magic you passess or fear you inspire. Even now."
Envy: "I warned you."
Envy practically bounced on the balls of his feet.
Envy: "You struck the match; I hope you meant it when you said you enjoyed the burn."
Envy: "Rise. Just like they always feared you would."
Pride: "Some of us take pride in our appearance,"
The Prince of this circle said, almost answering my thoughts. I schooled my features into an unreadable mask. Pride looked down his nose at me, his lip curling from either the blood or - more likely - the shredded material of my gown.
Pride: "Not all of us, clearly. Though I suppose as an unofficial member of Wrath's court, you don't count."
Emilia: "It's lovely to see you again, too. Thank you for the warm welcome."
I dropped the severed head on the floor, enjoying the hum of disapproval coming from the courtiers as it rolled to the base of his throne and crashed to a stop.
Wrath: "You're surprised."
Emilia: "You really mean for me to be queen. Not just your consort."
Wrath: "You are my match in every way. Anything that's mine belongs to you. Never forget that."
Emilia: "Subtlety isn't your strong suit."
Wrath: "Subtlety is for cowards, my lady."
Wrath: "The plan was decent enough. But they didn't plan on one thing."
Emilia: "Which is?"
Wrath: "You cannot be replicated."
I gave him a sardonic look.
Emilia: "I have a twin."
Wrath: "Doesn't matter."
Wrath lifted a shoulder.
Wrath: "I always knew you. And always will. Your soul calls to mine. It's a feeling of coming home. Of peace. No magic can replicate it."
His fingers finally found that pulsing area between my legs, but just as he was about to bring my torment to an end, there was a knock at the door. Wrath withdrew his hand and pressed his forehead to mine, cursing.
Wrath: "I am going to murder and main my entire court. This whole fucking realm if someone interrupts us again. I hope you won't mind ruling over a kingdom of nothing."
Wrath: "I'll get rid of them."
The demon was across the kitchen a beat later and cracked the door. Lust barged in, grinning as he took in my rumpled appeatance, then Wrath's impressive bulge.
Lust: "Really? The kitchens?"
He slapped his brother on the back.
Lust: "You might end up in my House of Sin yet, you lusty delinquent."
Domenico: "You're going to regret this, Shadow Witch."
Emilia: "If I received a coin every time I heard that, Greed would have cause for alarm."
Emilia: "Change is terrifying, but we are the Feared. Or so you keep insisting."
Vittoria: "are you telling me to have some dignity?"
Emilia: "You said it, dear sister. Not me."
Emilia: "Now that that's settled, show me all your new tricks. I want you to take me on every surface and ever damn wall in this chamber."
The last vestiges of stress left him and were quickly replaced by a roguish glint in his eyes.
Wrath: "Let's try half the surfaces for now, my love. Even with your immortal body, I doubt you can handle the full might of my ... power."
Cock prince of Hell. I thrusted upward, earning a surprised curse from the demon followed by a grown of pleasure as I repeated the motion.
Emilia: "Try me, demon."
Wrath: "Remember, I warned you, wife."
Emilia: "Remind me to not make the mistake of thinking a bath with you will ever be peaceful. First the Blade of Ruination speech, now this.."
I smiled as I shook my head.
Emilia: "It's a good thing I love you, or I'd wish to hold your head under water for a few seconds."
He kissed the tip of my nose.
Wrath: "At least you didn't say a few minutes. That show progress, my lady."
Emilia: "Perhaps I simply enjoy certain parts of you too much to give them up for good."
He splashed water at me.
Wrath: "I'll make sure those parts tend to your needs daily, lest I find myself on the wrong end of your blade."
Emilia: "Smart demon."
Wrath: "Later, my love. I promise nothing will keep me from admiring every detail of your gown. And everything beneath it."
I gave him a coy smile.
Emilia: "There is nothing beneath it, my king."
He closed his eyes as if trying to banish the image and fight the urge to take me right there.
Emilia: "Come on."
I threaded my arm though his.
Emilia: "Some ornery demon proclaimed no one was to arrive late."
Wrath: "I ought to murder that idiot."
Emilia: "Please don't. I'm rather fond of him."
I kissed his cheek.
Emilia: "Thank you for saving me from that fight."
Envy: "I figured they were having another adolescent argument involving theier cocks."
Envy: "I wouldn't go out of my way to stab you. So that's progress."
Now it was my turn to smile.
Emilia: "And I wouldn't go out of my way to incinerate you."
Envy: "Obviously you cannot wield fire magic anymore, but I appreciate the sentiment."
His brows raised.
Envy: "Are we ... friends?"
Envy looked and sounded aghast, but somehow I felt my answer mattered.
More than he'd let on. I gave him a disgusted look, feeling not disgusted at all.
Emilia: "It would appear so."
Envy: "How tragic."
Emilia: "Indeed. I'm rather put off by it."