G’day friends. Yes, you read the title right.
The Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco was one of my most anticipated books of the year! It sounded incredible, with a fantastically refreshing premise set in the beautiful Sicily, Italy!
I want to put a disclaimer, that I do know that this book is and will be heaps of people’s favourites, which I can totally understand. I think for me the case was that my expectations were not met and as a result, I was disappointed.
I gave The Kingdom of the Wicked 3 stars, which is a good rating. I did find this book enjoyable (for the reasons described below) but I also found it incredibly fucking boring.
Emilia and Wrath had no real depth. It felt so superficial.
The ‘enemies to lovers’ romance that it’s marketed as, was such a miniscule aspect of it that I was kind of annoyed. Don’t claim a book is and have the two characters have absolutely no chemistry!!!!
The Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Mansicalco is a spell-binding novel of a witch, a demon prince and the wickedness of humanity. I would describe the story as a fantasy/mystery young adult novel with a hint of romance. Set in the backdrop of the Sicilian countryside, Maniscalco does wonderfully well in weaving the cultural setting of Palermo, Sicily with the magical and wicked.
Emilia Di Carlo is a young woman from a family of witches. Her family-owned restaurant, Sea and Vine, is the setting for which she, alongside her twin sister Vittoria, her Nonna and her mother, learns her legacy as a witch descened from the First Witch. Maniscalco has created a world with its own mythology and history, set in an ambiguous time period, where witches live amongst humans and must be protected from the Malvagi.
From the onset, the reader is made aware that Emilia is the rational one, the witch with the head on her shoulders. Vittoria is secretive and seemingly always busy and ultimately murdered as a result. From this point on, Emilia is positioned completely in the centre, as the only person who is aware of the seemingly random killings of witches. Confused and devastated, Emilia makes a somewhat illogical decision to turn to dark magic and summon a demon to gain some answers. Wrath, one of the seven princes of hell, is instead summoned.
Emilia as a character was unique and interesting, with the strength and courage to not stop until she has found answers. I found her intelligence startling as well as her cunning, with her ability to manipulate Malvagi an absolute gift and incredibly enjoyable to read. Her relationships, love and affection for her family were written so wonderfully realistic. This familial love is so strong that it leaps off the page, not only Emilia’s love for her family, but her Nonna’s love especially. It was beautiful.
However, Emilia also frustrated me immensely. She said things as well as did things that did not make sense, that confused me because of how illogical they seemed (summoning a demon when you have never done so and was surprised when it went wrong, being one of them). One particular example is the summoning of Wrath. When Emilia summoned Wrath, she bonded him to her obviously without his consent, in which he essentially could not leave her side until she ‘unbound’ him. Nevertheless, she argued with Wrath against her partaking in a blood bond with him for protection as it wouldn’t be an ‘equal partnership’, but she literally did that without his consent if you want to be technical. In the beginning, Emilia also constantly mentioned that she didn’t believe in demons, which I thought was completely ironic since she was a witch herself, believed in shapeshifters, but demons were absurd.
The mythology was also slightly confusing as elements of the reasons why the Malvagi could/couldn’t leave hell seemingly changed throughout the novel. But this could be purely from me misreading the information. I would have also enjoyed much more of an exploration of Wrath’s character. I liked Wrath’s character enough, but he felt two-dimensional with no real depth. The ‘relationship’ between Emilia and Wrath was not the priority of the novel, which I enjoyed, but in saying that, I didn’t quite believe in their chemistry as Wrath felt quite dull.
There were many questions that were brought up throughout the novel, such as why the Di Carlos were particularly worried about four of the Malvagi, that were never answered. Although, this book is a set up for the second novel, so I am hoping that in the second novel, we have some of those questions answered.
Another aspect of the novel that I didn’t quite understand was the character of the Devil. Early on in the novel, Emilia mentionst the demon prince Pride is typically ascribed to the Devil. Which, I wondered as to why that was the case. If the formulation of the mythos places ‘hell’ in what we, as Westerners with a very Christianised understanding of it, having the Devil as a Demon Prince, doesn’t make sense as the Devil is a fallen angel, and the King of Hell. However, there were other mentions throughout the book of Pride and the Devil being separate, as it talks about Pride looking for a bride (why? we don’t know why) and not the Devil. But it then mentions that the Devil is trying to maintain Hell’s gates to be closed which is why he needs Hades’ Horns and to be married (?).
Overall, I believe many people will absolutely adore this book, especially if you were fans of the author’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series, or books such as Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurn and The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller.
Anway, rant over.
Until next time, happy reading!
All the love,