Today, a review about one of my most anticipated reads of my August TBR: Kingdom of the Wicked. Do I think it is worth the hype? Not entirely.
Themes: fantasy, romance, mystery, murder, witches, demons
Emilia’s family has been practicing witchcraft for centuries but it doesn’t prevent Emilia’s twin to be brutally murdered one night. Emilia swears to find the murderer and avenge her sister. She is ready to do anything to keep her word, even invoking the demons against which she has been warned her entire life. And the one answering to her summon is no other than Wrath, one of the Seven Princes of Hell. But instead of stealing Emilia’s soul as her grandmother told her he would, he offers to help her catch the murderer.
Will they succeed in finding who the culprit is? And are Wrath’s intentions as genuine as he says they are?
I realised recently that Keri Maniscalco is the author of Stalking Jack the Ripper, another book I read earlier this year. And I much preferred this book, even if I gave the same rating to both.
This book is very well written and the author makes you travel in Sicily thanks to the colours and odors conveyed by the food and places. This impression is reinforced by the use of Italian, scattered here and there in the text. However pleasant this touch is for Italian speakers, the ebook cruelly lacks of footnotes translating the terms (I had to search for the meanings of several words despite my Italian being fairly good).
The story is interesting because it evolves from a simple murder to a more complex plot. I didn’t guess who the culprit was (as usual) but I thought it was well done. This discovery doesn’t impact much the material for the sequel which will be out next October since it partially solves Vittoria’s murder. In this book, no one is to be trusted and evil might not be where we think it is.
Speaking of evil, the notion of the Seven Princes of Hell or Wicked Princes was a good idea but underdeveloped in this volume. The ones we meet are well introduced, with scenes perfectly illustrating their sins but we don’t get to know them much besides Wrath. I hope it will be different in the sequel.
I enjoyed Wrath’s character and cannot decide if he’s better than the other Princes or as bad as demons are supposed to be according to Emilia’s grandmother. And I trully enjoyed the interactions he has with Emilia which made me laugh out loud at some points (and are the reason why I wanted to give the book full stars at the beginning of my reading). Emilia has just no respect for Wrath who doesn’t expect that from someone who’s supposed to fear him. I had more difficulties with Emilia since I find her character not being logical. She is sometimes very clever and courageous and at other times she takes irrational, stupid decisons (like leaving at home and in plain sight crucial pieces of evidence while knowing she will not return there for a while). She’s also selfish and even a bit stupid, not seeing what’s in front of her. She’s supposed to have power and be a trained witch but just waits to be rescued each time. She doesn’t even try to learn how to protect herself when she can and this lack of action is very incoherent with her evolution since her sister’s death. By the way, it’s enjoyable to see her becoming risky and ruthless after being passive and obedient at the beginning.
Emilia’s character is not the only one to lack depth and it’s particularly striking when it comes to her friends and family. She could be alone it would be the same since we don’t often meet them or have a lot of information about them. The romance is not fully developed too and I was a bit bothered by the fact that Emilia constantly reminds herself that Wrath is a demon so a bad guy but still falls for him. But after all, Wrath is a very attractive character so I kind of understand her.
The ending of the book is really what makes me want to go on with this series since I found Emilia as she was immediatly after Vittoria’s death again. I just want to see what she is going to do in the sequel even if I was very confused about this ending.
In brief: I hope that the romance, characters and magic system will be further developed in the sequel and that Kingdom of the Wicked will be in fact an introduction to the world Kari Maniscalco imagined (which has a lot of potential). Because of all these points, I hesitated a lot between giving the book 3 or 4 stars. I finally settled on 4 because it remains a good book that I enjoyed a lot.
To finish, a question for those who have read the book: did the ending confused you too or is it just me? Tell me in the comments!
My rating: 3,5/5
Trigger warnings: death/murder, decription of wounds
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