Hi friends! This was the book I received for my October Bookish Box! This is a new addition to my book box subscriptions, but I love it so far! Each month you get a new title (often they’re signed or have unique covers or artwork!) along with some really cute goodies and things from small artists. Last month I got an amazing candle, a super cute scarf, a pretty necklace, and more! I’m not a Bookish Box affiliate or partner (I wish!), but you can sign up using my referral link here, if you’re interested. It’s a super great gift for Christmas or the holiday season.
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
Kingdom of the Wicked is the first novel in Kerri Maniscalco’s latest series. Twin sisters Vittoria and Emilia are witches, working in their family’s restaurant in Italy, hiding their secret powers and avoiding persecution. One evening, Emilia finds her sister dead, her heart ripped brutally out of her body. Determined to find her sister’s killer, Emilia accidently summons Wrath, one of the seventh princes of Hell, and forms a shaky alliance based on their common desire to solve the case. But with the Wicked, things are never as they seem.
Apparently I saved the best book of the month for last. This is such a fun start to a YA series and will definitely be one I continuing when future sequels are released. I enjoyed the concept of the kingdoms of Hell and the romance and the mystery. Although I had some issues with the characters, it was such a fresh breath from a couple of my previous reads this month.
I think my favorite thing about this book was the unique worldbuilding that took place. I think that having princes of Hell and the rules and dynamics that go along with is such a cool and unique concept and I was so excited to learn more about the world throughout the plot. I also liked the magic system, with the summoning circles, rules within the Kingdom of the Wicked, and explanations of the dark arts; it was a good example of a soft magic system done right.
My favorite part of this novel is the love and care that was clearly put into its writing. Reading in the dedication that Maniscalco’s grandparents owned a restaurant in Italy really shows the close connection she has to what she’s writing about, and that love is so apparent in the prose. The descriptions of the ingredients and foods were enough to make my mouth water, and that aspect of the characters’ lives was unique and such a cool addition to the story.
My two issues with this novel lie within Emilia’s characterization and the ending of this novel. Emilia is kind of a dumb main character. She consistently makes poor choices and is shocked at every small reveal that other creatures exist (she’s a witch with a spellbook and she’s surprised that demons and vampires and shape-shifters exist? Make it make sense). I don’t like not having trust in your main character, especially when they’re likeable and have good intentions, but I found myself shaking my head at Emilia a lot. I hope she grows in subsequent novels.
One of my pet peeves is when novels set up storylines for a sequel rather than focus on telling a solid story within a single novel. This book did come across as a little sequel-baity. I wish that there was more focus on the murder mystery and giving a solid answer to that plotline rather than establishing a set-up for the following novel. It’s just a little bit of a bummer because I find novels that do so slightly ingenuine and more profit-focused, which is not the vibe I got from the care put into the creation of this book.
Rating & Final Thoughts
Despite my gripe about the ending of this book, Kingdom of the Wicked is a total 4 out of 5 star read. This was my favorite book of November and while I normally like to wait until a series is complete before starting to read it, but I’m really glad I got this in my Bookish Box. Definitely look into this series if it sounds good to you, you won’t be disappointed.
Buy Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco here.*
*as a reminder, I am an Amazon affiliate and make a small commission off of purchases made using my link.