Kingdom of the Wicked
by Kerri Maniscalco
Published by Jimmy Patterson Books
Book 1 in the Kingdom of the Wicked series
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 by Kerri Maniscalco is the first book in the Kingdom of the Wicked trilogy, and centers around eighteen year old Emilia, a young witch, whose world is turned upside down when her twin sister is brutally murdered. With the loss of her twin, gone is the happy, peaceful Emilia, and in her place is her wrath. So when a summoning spell to get information goes wrong, it's not surprising that she calls up a demon prince of hell, whose sin is wrath. She has been warned away from the princes of hell all her life, but she will not stop, and will do whatever it takes to get vengeance for her sisters death. Wrath claims to be on her side, and wants to help her, but as Emilia soon learns, the princes of hell have their own agenda.
For over a year, I have seen #booktok posts, #bookstagram posts, and conversations on bookish groups on facebook about this series, so I won't lie, I was excited to finally pick it up and give it a shot. And I won't lie ... I don't get the hype. Listen. I actually loved the storyline here. I enjoyed Wrath. But there were some things that just bothered me, and it was the flow, and Emilia. Sometimes I felt like I was experiencing reader whiplash. One paragraph she feels one way, and all of a sudden, she feels another. I mean, I'm going to try to be fair and explain that away because she is reeling from her sisters murder, which is understandable. But flow wise, it felt ... choppy to me.
And then there is Emilia. I really want to like her. I do. But she grates on my nerves. I love that she wants vengeance for her sister, and that she is willing to do anything it takes. I love she is willing to take risks. But sometimes I feel like she is naïve and rushes into things without thinking things through. She doesn't demand the information from her grandmother that she knows is being hidden from her. And her character is written in such a way, that I don't know if I am reading young adult or adult. She just seems too childish. Maybe I'm used to reading about eighteen year olds who act older and wiser than they should? I don't know ... but there is just something about her character that keeps me from fully liking her.
Even with my bellyaching above, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book. The actual plot was interesting, and I do love stories that center around the seven princes of hell ... and Wrath is a personal favorite of mine. Kerri Maniscalco's interpretation of Wrath is interesting, and different from other stories I've read, which I like. I can totally see why readers love him in this book. And boy was I hoping for romance. Much more than a kiss. But the banter is excellent, and it makes me think there is more to come for these two.
Despite the problems that I had with this book, I still ended up heading to Chapters and buying the next book. But the fact that it took me weeks to actually start the second book, tells me this isn't going to be a favorite series for me.
Flectere si nequeo superos,
If I cannot bend the will of Heaven,
I shall move Hell.
Not two breaths after he left the chamber, my stupid sister started dancing around the room, pretending to passionately kiss what I could only assume was Antonio.
Vittoria: "Oh, Emilia. I hope to see you when I return. Preferably naked, in my bed, screaming the lord's name."
Emilia: "Stop that!"
I swatted her, mortified.
Emilia: "He can probably still hear you!"
She wiggled her hips suggestively.
Vittoria: "Maybe it'll give him some ideas. It's not too late for him to leave the brotherhood. There's no law or decree that says that once he's accepted orders he needs to stay forever. There are plenty more interesting ways for a man to find religion. Maybe you can bathe in holy water and show him."
Emilia: "You're impossibly blasphemous."
Vittoria: "And you are cherry red. Why not tell him how you feel? Or maybe you should just kiss him. Judging by the way he looks at you, I doubt he'd mind. Plus, the worst that can happen is he'll wax poetic on his religious orders, and you'll have to strangle him with his rosary."
Emilia: "Come on, Venus. You've had enough matchmaking today."
Wrath: "One day you might beg me to kiss you. You might hate it. Or love it. But temptation will surge through those magical veins of yours, obliterating all common sense. You'll want me to save you from the endless torment by giving you everything you love to loathe. And when I do, you'll thirst for more."
I tilted my head like I hadn't heard him correctly.
Wrath: "It looks like you balled it up and left it in the bottom of a drawer for months, and it smells like you wiped out pig innards with it."
He tossed it back to me.
Wrath: "Fetch me something more suitable, or deal with me as is."
Emilia: "Excuse me?"
I marched up to the line of bones and crossed them without hesitation. I stood toe-to-toe with him, fuming. A wild gleam in my eyes dared him to tell me no again.
Emilia: "Put. The. Shirt. On. Now."
Wrath: "Does the sight of my bare skin get under yours? Did you have sinful thoughts about me last night?"
He gave me a lazy grin.
Wrath: "That's usually my brother's specialty, but fear not, we've all got bedroom talents."
Wrath: "Care to roll around in the dirt with me?"
Wrath: "Live long enough to hate me for this."
Emilia: 'Salvatore is one of the best gossips in the city. If anyone has reliable information about Giulia, it's him."
I glanced down at Wrath's shirt.
Emilia: "He's also the vendor who sold me that."
Wrath: "I see. You brought me here to commit murder while we investigate one."
Wrath: "It's nice to know you find me so attractive, but I'm not one of those demons. My eyes aren't red. And if you'd like to find out if my skin is warmer than ice, that can easily be arranged."
To further his point, he undid a few buttons on his shirt, exposing a patch of bronzed skin. A light sheen of sweat glistened, as if beckoning. My face heated, having nothing to do with the sun.
Emilia: "I work in a kitchen and can break down a chicken carcass in under three minutes, I imagine doing the same to you wouldn't be that different."
Wrath: "I assure you, there is no truth to these stories."
His eyes sparked with mischief.
Wrath: "Though I can't promise my kisses wouldn't be sinfully good."
Emilia: "Why do villain's always wear black?"
Wrath: "Better to hide the blood with, witch."
Anir: Next time, a little warning would be nice."
Wrath: "A little less insubordination might make me more amenable to common courtesy in the future."
Balance. Light and dark. The sun and moon. Good and evil. A snake winding through a bed of wildflowers. Offering a taste of the most forbidden fruit. Scales of justice were tipped; a choice hanging there for me to decide. To right a wrong, or damn us all.
Wrath: "Time to go, witch."
Hardly. I twirled away, but he grabbed my hand, spinning me back until I crashed against his body. Heat poured off of him, enveloped me. I had the strangest feeling I should hate it.
Emilia: "Hello, demon. Let's dance."
Wrath: "You need to get out of here. Immediately."
Wrath: "Because you're tearing your clothes off and looking at me like mine are next."