Sunday, January 23, 2022

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco


A lot of YA fantasy these days reads like it was churned out of the same word salad factory, if you know what I mean. Like, there's a vibe, and if you cobbled together a handful of quotes from a dozen or so of these authors, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you which is from where because the whole lot of them feel so samey.

That is why it is such an exceptional treat when you find something that actually cracks, if not breaks, the mold.

I was a little leery about reading the KINGDOM OF THE WICKED because I didn't really care for this author's other series, Stalking Jack the Ripper. It wasn't bad, but it also wasn't good, and I had no plans to revisit the author again. But then I started hearing whispers-- that this new series of hers was a villain romance, that it featured a ruthless heroine, that it actually had stakes-- and I was like BYE MONEY.

Now that I've read the book, I can 100% assure you that the rumors are true. This is such a good book. It's about two sisters, who are witches and twins, who are part of a prophecy about these legendary demon princes who each embody one of the seven deadly sins. Neither of them take it seriously, but one day, they cross the streams-- I mean, the amulets-- and something bad happens because of it. And Emilia, the slightly more practical of the two, ends down a labyrinth of secrets and lies and magic, as she looks to avenge a terrible wrong done against her family, with the reluctant assistant of Prince Wrath, one of the demon princes of hell.

Emilia was such a great heroine. She was every bit as ruthless as I was promised and her relationship with Wrath gave me the kind of enemies-to-lovers fix I've been craving since I finished Holly Black's Folk of the Air trilogy. The magic system in this book is interesting and we're immersed in it gradually rather than being info-dumped in. And the descriptions of food in this book? OH MY GOD. Don't read this on an empty stomach, is what I'm saying, or you'll be guzzling pasta, cannoli, and wine. The only reason this doesn't get a higher rating is because the pacing felt just a tad uneven and as others have complained, Emilia's inner monologues ran on too long sometimes. But apart from that this was truly excellent and I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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