Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Narrator: Marisa Calin
Audiobook Length: 12 hours 6 minutes
Two sisters. One brutal murder. A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself….
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….
Kingdom of the Wicked has been a novel that it seems that everyone has read, but me. It is the first installment of a trilogy of the same name. The prologue opens with two twin witches, Emilia and Vittoria di Carlo when they were eight years old and introduces the Princes of Hell. In the main story ten years later, Vittoria is murdered and Emilia is determined to solve the mystery. As she begins her journey, she meets Wrath, a Prince of Hell, who claims also to be in pursuit of the murderer. The two of them navigate the mystery as they work reluctantly as a team in historical Sicily complete with a nice gothic feel.
Emilia begins the story as the more introverted sister compared to Vittoria’s more adventurous and outgoing side. She lived in Vittoria’s shadow, so part of the story is Emilia learning to come into her own. She was an enjoyable character and I liked that she was determined to find answers, even if she was blinded by her desire. Though there were some moments where she was rash and immature, she remained a likable character, for me. The enemies-to-lovers will they-won’t they between Emilia and Wrath throughout the story was very well-done as it leaves room for anything to happen in the sequels while keeping the reader hooked to their growing relationship. Due to this setup, romance is always a present factor, but it is not the driving force of the story. Instead, the quest to find Vittoria’s murderer remains at the center. The other Princes of Hell, such as Lust, Greed, Envy, and Pride, were enjoyable additions. As one of the Princes of Hell seems like the key suspect, Emilia must eliminate each one by one until she finds the answer.
While the pacing of this story may be, slow in some places, the audiobook version more than made up for it. I was fully on board with the added sound effects as they added a lot of additional tension to the writing. There is some predictability to different pieces of the story, but there are some twists that I did not see coming. This novel was a semi-typical intro story for a trilogy as there is a lot of build-up and exploration of the characters. I enjoyed the romance blooming between Emilia and Wrath, but I am not fully invested in them yet based on this story alone. Although I could imagine Emilia and Vittoria’s close sisterly relationship, I wish Vittoria were featured a little more to explore that connection with the reader. As it is written, the reader must trust the closeness between the two characters. My hope for the sequel, aside from a continuation of the plot, is a larger exploration of the characters as there are many questions that still need to be answered. Overall, this was a captivating story that lived up to the hype as it left me eager to read the next installment!