This book has taken me two weeks to finish. While work has kept me from reading a few days of the week, I can't just make that the main cause for taking so long to read this book. Yesterday, June 2, 2022, I was only 31% into the book and I started this one on May 21, 2022. And I have a lot to say about it.
Two Sisters. One brutal murder. A quest of 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 restaurant in Sicily. 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--who are 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 a series of women's murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems...
I don't usually start these reviews off with my rating, but I want to make it perfeclty clear that I didn't hate the book. In fact, I basically read it in two days, which is normal for me. However, there are some things I was really disappointed with, which I will get into. So, for the time being, I'm going to give you my rating and then explain why along the way. I have the second book, Kingdom of the Cursed, on my bookshelf. I do plan on reading it because I already purchased it and I am curious to see how the second compares to the first in terms of character development and change in setting.
So, my rating: ⭐⭐⭐
I wasn't crazy about the character development in this book. So, we have two twin sisters: Vittoria and Emilia. Vittoria is the curious and out-going sister. She has been hiding some secrets from Emilia, which are revealed later in the book, but she is very bold. She isn't afraid to step out of her comfort zone and have fun.
Emilia, however, is very reserved. She loves food, which is great. And she doesn't mind staying in on a Friday night with a good romance book. And while those qualities are good, they basically make up her entire character. She sticks to the rules, up until finding her dead sister. So, this should give room for some good character development. But it doesn't. She's just angry. And kind of dumb. I have notes from my book where I'm so annoyed with her character, which I will get into momentarily.
Then we meet Wrath. He's funny, temperamental, and a demon. The banter between Wrath and Emilia are so great. I absolutely loved it. It was the highlight for me. Throughout the book, we see his character start to change. He's kinder towards Emilia and willing to help her, which seems abnormal for a demon, especially the one specifically tied to war. The ending, that's what got me.
Back to what I was saying about Emilia's lack of intelligence in some areas. She creates a certain bond between her and Wrath, which keeps him from lying. However, she constantly questions his judgment. She keeps asking he's telling the truth. Sis, HE CAN'T LIE. Unless it's by not sharing a specific detail with you, which is lying by omission, but still. HE. CAN'T. LIE.
I'm not going to lie, the plot was confusing at times. As an example, Emilia is walking out of her house. She's outside. Then she hears her parents talking, and she's about to open the door to the hallway? I don't even remember. It made no sense. It kind of felt like Kerri Maniscalco was adding things just to add chaos? For example (not a spoiler), a specific demon is chasing Emilia. It's creepy. But it happened suddenly. Her and Wrath are sitting somewhere, he tells her to watch out for this specific demon, and suddenly, it's there. And then she runs. It made no sense to me.
There were also so many instances where she just talked about food. Pages and pages of food that didn't need to be there. Like, 80% of her magic just focuses on food? Which makes no sense to me. I don't know a lot about witches, but that just seems strange to me. And then she does a full 180 and uses dark magic. She is so fueled by anger, she is willing to do anything, which I don't think helps the plot or the character development. Again, Emilia is dumb.
Okay, so the synopsis explains some things that are definitely not there. The romance is not intoxicating. In fact, it's barely there. It's like the romance in The Cruel Prince, but there still arent' many moments where Emilia discusses her feelings for Wrath. It's just barely existing. At least, I felt that way. Even in The Wicked King, the romance isn't necessarily present until towards the end, but it's a lot more than Kingdom of the Wicked. There's supposed to be a lot more romance in Kingdom of the Cursed, but I'm not sure how that will play out.
There was just a lot in this book that didn't sit well with me, and that's mainly because of Emilia's character.
Why I Gave it 3 Stars
So, here's why I gave it three stars:
There were some good intense scenes that I enjoyed, that I felt like really brought the book up a couple of notches and were entertaining to read
The back-and-forth commentary between Wrath and Emilia
Wrath. Just Wrath.
Again, there were some good qualities, but Emilia's character really made me enjoy the book less.
Why am I going to read the second book? Because I already have it and I'm curious to see if Emilia's character changes due to scenery, the plot of the book, and how her relationship with Wrath will continue.