Kingdom of the Missed Opportunities
Title: Kingdom of the Wicked
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Difficulty: Moderately easy
Series: First published in (presumably) a series
Always spoiler free
I succumbed to the hype and preordered this gorgeously covered book. I arrived home after a week away and was excited to tear it open on Halloween (perfect timing) and delve immediately into to it.
Emilia is a twin with a family secret – her family are witches. After the mysterious murder of her twin, Vittoria, Emilia has to decide how far she will go to solve the murder and get revenge. Along her journey Emilia meets the Princes of Hell, the same princes that her nonna has warned her about her entire life.
The book is solidly written. The characterisation is okay. I’ve heard complaints Emilia is too naïve, but I found her character fine. I did feel that a lot of the character were…shallow. They were sketched out, but never fully fleshed. Her mother and father, for example, barely make an appearance and Wrath is pretty one dimensional. This is (supposedly) a YA novel, but it’s on a tipping point between YA and adult, and for some reason never fully embraces either. This might be my biggest issue, it’s lack of commitment – it could have been steamy but was only slightly. It could have embraced the darker aspects of the characters and plot but shies away from these elements completely. It’s an almost book.
There were small inconsistencies in the book that continued to bother me after finishing the book. Emilia is supposed to be remaining under the radar due to dark forces but…she runs around her town in some pretty spiffy clothes and no-one appears to notice. She essentially goes missing for a period of time…and no-one looks for her, or comments on it when she reappears. Maniscalco appears to bring plot points back in when they are relevant and ignore them when they aren’t.
The overarching themes of the book aren’t new. I’m actually a big fan of hell (demons/princes of Hell etc.) themed fantasy books. They don’t always included witches, but it’s not exactly a twist on a fairly established theme. That’s another issue – I’ve read books with similar based characters (demons and witches) that have intrigued me more.
The book ends with a bit of a cliff hanger – there are parts of the plot that are not fully explained or make complete sense even after the big reveal. I get it, Maniscalco is going to continue to explore these points in book two, but I was left confused and annoyed because I was confused. Maybe I missed an explanation somewhere along the way?
The overwhelming feeling after reading this book was…disappointment. I’d seen it advertised all over ‘bookstagram’. The cover is gorgeous. The blurb is intriguing. It should have been a winner – big ticks in all my favourite things; a mystery to solve, with magic to boot. But I wasn’t engaged, and I wasn’t inspired. There was nothing new about the book, there was no plot twist or exciting new element that I hadn’t come across before. It just feels like a missed opportunity.
Well Red Reviews
Would I recommend this book? Yeah, sure