HELL YESSSSSSSSSSSS. Guys, this book was fantastico *wink wink*. I think I actually screamed when I finished it, I can’t even be sure though because I was too hyped up on that cliffhanger ending. Kingdom of the Wicked had everything I was looking for and more. First off, I’m Italian (part of my family is actually from Sicily, the region where this book takes place), so Italian witches? YES. Second, the seven deadly sins as Princes of Hell? HELL YES (pun intended). Everything about this book, from the main characters to the suspense to the aesthetic held me in complete rapture as I raced through the pages. And, boy, did I race.
Emilia and her twin sister, Vittoria, are witches hiding in plain sight in the city of Palermo, and they come from a long line of star witches. Their grandmother has made them promise to never take off their cornicello amulets, and most importantly, never unite them. If they do, the Malvagi, who also represent the seven deadly sins, will come after them. The twins, or at least Emilia, always ignored grandma’s warnings until one night Vittoria is brutally murdered. Vittoria’s death is one of a string of witch murders across Palermo. Emilia discovers that her sister had been keeping dark secrets from her, and she vows to avenge Vittoria’s death by destroying those responsible. Her path towards vengeance teams her up with Wrath, one of the seven deadly princes, who is also trying to prevent more witches from dying. They form an uneasy alliance as they search for Vittoria’s murderer, and Emilia can’t quite figure out Wrath’s motives for keeping her safe as they battle demons on the streets of Palermo.
As I read, I looked up pictures of Palermo, which may or may not have been a good thing… talk about longing for a place you’ve never been. Kerri Maniscalco did an amazing job of incorporating the beauty of this seaside town into the story. Another amazing element to this book was the lush and vivid descriptions of food… my mouth watered and longed for some heavenly Italian meals. I thoroughly enjoyed the details of every dish, which made the story seem incredibly real. Kerri weaved her Italian heritage and love for food and family into the story, which I truly appreciated. I also found the witchcraft magic to be delightful; every spell was so meticulous… my cup of tea. I’m obsessed with all things witchy, so I naturally drank in every detail.
Emilia was a stunning MC, and one I found myself closely aligned with. She often described herself as the safe sister, the one less inclined to break the rules. When she discovered her sister’s death, she had to swallow her own fears and step wayyyyy out of her comfort zone. She watched as her family wished the whole ordeal to disappear, and she used her rage as fuel when she realized she was the only one willing to find the murderer. On the other hand, Wrath was EVERYTHING I wanted; dark, mysterious, handsome, morally grey, feral, dangerous… excuse me while I wipe up my drool. There might be one thing I love more than enemies to lovers, and that’s enemies to lovers with some serious moral questioning. I loved their dynamic as they worked together, with Emilia’s rage a perfect match for Wrath. I think I loved it even more when we found out Wrath had been working on his own agenda the entire time. Mmmmmhmmm, bad boy through and through. We end the story with them definitely not in love, but serious tension, and I cannot wait to see where they go from here. For me, it’s allllllllllll about the tension between the characters over anything else, and Kingdom of the Wicked delivered.
The concept of this book, using the seven deadly sins to represent the seven princes in hell, was super original, and I loved how it played upon religion and witchcraft alike. Each time Emilia met a prince, I was so intrigued and ready to learn more about them… even Envy. Their individual powers stoke those very real, very human feelings within all of us, which is how they ultimately overwhelm people. Kingdom of the Wicked moved at such an addicting pace, and I highly recommend this book to those who love witchy stories, fast paced reads, and Italian food. The only downside to this entire story is that I devoured it in less than two days… and the sequel won’t be out for a while *sigh*.