“Kingdom of the Wicked” by Kerri Maniscalco

Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

I will admit my expectations for this book were pretty low. Not for any particular reason other than almost all of the YA Fantasy I’ve read recently have all been rather meh and I thought this would be much and such the same. In this instance however, I was very happy to be proven very wrong.

The book is set in an alternate universe version of Sicily (cool setting, tick!) in a world where witches must remain hidden to avoid persecution. Witch twins Emilia and Vittoria have been raised to protect themselves against the Wicked, demon princes from hell (swoooooon, who doesn’t love a demon prince from hell?) but when Vittoria is brutally murdered, Emilia must summon one of the Wicked to help uncover the truth.

So we’ve basically got a magical murder mystery revenge tale with some morally ambiguous demon princes thrown in? What a treat indeed!

Honestly this book kinda reminded me of Sarah J Maas when she is at her best. I know not everyone will consider that as a positive but I’m talking A Court of Mist and Fury rather than….Crescent City.

I also appreciated that the writing and characterisation felt quite mature. Emilia didn’t have to be some insanely beautiful, badass warrior queen. She managed to be an interesting woman, thrust into events not of her making whose main driver is the love she has for her murdered sister and her desire for vengeance.

The romance is slow burn and falls firmly into the enemies to lovers trope (I unashamedly love this trope, fight me) and is seriously sexy, if a little predictable, but that’s nothing new for the genre.

The pacing was effective too, I didn’t realise the book was a series until close to the end and I liked how it wasn’t one of those books with glacial pacing just to justify a duology or trilogy *coughBloodandHoneycough*. The downside of course is that I have to wait now for a sequel.

I’m from an Italian background myself and a few of the names seemed a bit silly. Growing up my mum used to tell me I was betrothed to the son of a family friend in Italy called Tony Tortellini (my sister was betrothed to Freddy Fettucini….) and some of the names of the side characters made me think “my mum missed a trick not thinking of that name for our mythical fiancees” but the author gets a pass because her name suggests she’s of the same ancestry and the book is just that dang good.

Suffice to say I loved it and can’t wait for the sequel.

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