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 is the new historical-fiction / fantasy about witches and demons (the Wicked) by the author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series.
I entered in to this novel only having read Stalking Jack the Ripper, a novel which I absolutely detested. I put it down for around a year before I picked it back up, having finally found the willpower, to power through into the ending. After that, despite owning the sequel (I was so sure I was going to be a fan) I did not continue on with that series.
So, when this was announced I went ‘hmmm’ because it sounded amazing but so did SJTR, and look where that got me. But the pretty cover and the premise hooked me in, and I decided to give the author another shot.
And for most of the book, I was glad I did. The novel opened with a whooping heap of pathetic fallacy, with the raging storm, wind beating on the windows, loud, angry, scared . . . reflecting part of the mood in the cabin, signaling the lurking danger that the twins are unaware of, as their Nonna begins to tell them a story about the evil Wicked . . . It was incredibly atmospheric, and I was immediately pleased that the prologue was drawing me in further, and hadn’t turned me away.
And so the book continued, showing Vittoria and Emilia ten years later, working in their family restaurant. Their Nonna is still overly superstitious and protective, warning the girls of danger that they refuse to take as seriously as her. And then the worst happens, Vittoria is murdered, found by Emilia herself – who instantly regrets not listening to her Nonna’s warnings, and for not paying closer attention to her sister, and for not believing her when she said she summoned the devil . . .
So, Emilia goes on a mission to avenge her sister – was it the man she found above her sisters body, who fled in to the night? – which leads to her unravelling secrets about her family lineage, her sisters secret and the identity she kept hidden, and the Wicked Prince Wrath.
And my goodness. Wrath was an excellent character. I thought he was hilarious! His dry humour and no nonsense attitude gave me a good giggle. Emilia and him had such good chemistry, and I loved all of their scenes together and was continually yelling at the page whenever they had an angsty interaction that was filled with subtle (not) yearning.
And it was all well and good.
But then it just got messy. I don’t think it’s me, I was reading this book pretty closely, but the ending suddenly appeared and all these answers came tumbling out and I sat there like
Because it just did not make sense! After the entirety of the book – and this is not a short book by any means – that’s how it ends? And I’m not saying this because I’m bitter it didn’t end in a romantic declaration of love. It just seemed the author forgot to actual show & tell the reader that was going on, but instead sped through it, without realising the audience isn’t in her head and doesn’t have the knowledge of the story as she does. It seemed contradictory, rushed, and just not very cohesive. Like I get it, but I also don’t get it? I don’t want to give spoilers – but AHHH. It is SO frustrating. Seemed like Maniscalco went for the shock factor, leave it on a cliffhanger, we will work through the facts and make it clearer in the sequel ending . . .
And I’m not a fan.
I didn’t expect an entire resolution in this, knowing that it will have a sequel. But I did expect an ending that would draw the threads together, to show a well developed character and plot arc, and this just did not have it. Which is such a shame, because most of this book was brilliant and had the potential to be wholly incredible.
Alas, it was not. 3 stars.
Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for providing this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.