ARC Review: Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Thank you to Netgalley & James Patterson Books for providing me with this eARC! 

Two sisters.

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.

Title: Kingdom of the Wicked
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: James Patterson Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery
Age Range: Young Adult
Trigger Warnings: Death, Murder, Demons, Religion, Food Description
Rating: ★★★★☆

Let me start by saying I am a huge fan of Kerri’s other series, Stalking Jack the Ripper. Thankfully, Kingdom of the Wicked was not a disappointment. Fans of Stalking Jack the Ripper will be pleased to find that Maniscalco’s writing style has not only improved, but become more lush and descriptive for this novel. You truly feel as if you are in 1700s Italy with our main characters Emilia and Wrath, experiencing their lives with them as they go along. 

Maniscalco’s careful creation of the central characters left them enjoyable and likeable, but still flawed. Emilia goes through a journey throughout the novel to find her bravery and solve her sister’s murder. The development she receives feels natural, with the events leading to her changing feeling genuine and believable. She starts off quiet and somewhat timid, and grows into a strong, brave young woman. It’s really refreshing to see. As for our other main character, Wrath is one of the seven Princes of Hell. As his name may suggest, he has a temper and is unafraid of putting you in your place, yet, as most YA love interests do these days, also has a soft side that only gets shown to our leading lady. While this novel isn’t romance heavy, it’s hinted at being developed throughout the books following, leading to a satisfying pay off. And besides, who doesn’t love a slow burn?

“I believe I am powerful, therefore I am.” 

For me, the best part about this book was the plot. Maniscalco crafted a dark and interesting story, perfect for fantasy lovers. However, if fantasy isn’t your cup of tea, it is still readable and enjoyable due to the familiar setting of the real world. Maniscalco did a good job writing the streets of London in Stalking Jack the Ripper, but is perfect with her take of magical realism in Italy. It’s almost as if this was what she was made to write. The magic of demons and witches melded nicely into village life, with it being so near-perfect I half expected to see an author’s note explaining it was based on folklore. Instead, this compelling setting and plot was created entirely by Maniscalco – I often wonder how she does it. The mystery element to this novel was played off perfectly, with the reveal at the end being satisfying and unexpected. After all, from the author who has perfected the plot twist in Stalking Jack the Ripper, it’s no surprise it’s perfectly executed in Kingdom of the Wicked, too.

Kerri Maniscalco has succeeded in creating a compelling and interesting series for her follow up to Stalking Jack the Ripper. The lush writing style and the likeable characters will keep you up at night, turning pages until there are no more left to read. Kingdom of the Wicked is a near-perfect start to a series, which leaves the reader itching for the second book. 

Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | Indie Bound | Boomerang Books

About the Author:

Kerri Maniscalco Promo shots

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

She is the #1 NYT and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series and the forthcoming Kingdom of the Wicked.

Follow Kerri: Twitter   |  Facebook   |   Instagram   |   Website   |   Tumblr   |   Pinterest 

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