Fantasy, New Adult/Adult

Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco

Amazon.com: Kingdom of the Cursed (Kingdom of the Wicked Book 2) eBook :  Maniscalco, Kerri: Kindle Store

Pages: 448

Series: Kingdom of the Wicked #2

Publisher: JIMMY Patterson

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Genre(s): Fantasy Romance

Format: Hardcover

*SPOILERS AHEAD! If you have not read the first book in this series, Kingdom of the Wicked, please stop reading immediately! Lots of spoilers for book #1 follow this warning, but no spoilers for Kingdom of the Cursed will be included in this review.*

Goodreads Synopsis

“After selling her soul to become Queen of the Wicked, Emilia travels to the Seven Circles with the enigmatic Prince of Wrath, where she’s introduced to a seductive world of vice.

She vows to do whatever it takes to avenge her beloved sister, Vittoria… even if that means accepting the hand of the Prince of Pride, the king of demons.

The first rule in the court of the Wicked? Trust no one. With back-stabbing princes, luxurious palaces, mysterious party invitations, and conflicting clues about who really killed her twin, Emilia finds herself more alone than ever before. Can she even trust Wrath, her one-time ally in the mortal world… or is he keeping dangerous secrets about his true nature?

Emilia will be tested in every way as she seeks a series of magical objects that will unlock the clues of her past and the answers she craves…

One sister.
Two sinful princes.
Infinite deception with a side of revenge… Welcome to Hell.

What Did I Think?

Holy cannoli, y’all! This book was SO GOOD, and my love for it really caught me off guard after I had such a neutral feeling about Kingdom of the Wicked. Also, I have never in my life experience a book that ended on a double cliffhanger, and even though I hate it now, I can’t wait to start the next book as soon as it comes out next year.

Let’s kick this thing off with a little recap of what happened during Kingdom of the Wicked. Emilia summons one of the Seven Deadly Sins “named” Wrath, and together, they work together (and bicker a lot in between) to discover the true culprit of Emilia’s sister, Vittoria’s murder. Even though Wrath and Emilia both have a lot of distrust and hate for one another due to their respective pasts/upbringings, the more time they spend together, the more they realize the other may just not be exactly as they prevously believed. The reader definitely gets smacked upside the head with the enemies-to-lovers vibe early on, and the SUPER slow burn romance continues to progress as the book goes on. Romance is anything but on Emilia’s mind when she realizes that the spell she cast to bind Wrath is actually one of betrothal, and while somewhat problematic at first, it does come in handy when disaster continues to strike on earth as demond escape through the gates of Hell to prowl the mortal world. At the end, Wrath and Emilia are on very unsteady ground when it comes to how they feel about one another. Emilia also learns that Antonio, one of the brothers of the monestary, is responsible for Vittoria’s death. Consumed with uncontrollable wrath and a thirst for vengence, Emilia signs a contract in her blood – literally signs her soul over to Pride – and we are left with her plotting the ways in which she can destroy those responsible for her sister’s death as the queen of Hell.

One of my favorite things about Kingdom of the Cursed is how there was so many drastic shifts in this series that managed to make everything about the first book that much more compelling in the second. The first of these shifts was the fact that Kingdom of the Cursed has moved firmly from young adult to new adult. While this is most drastically shown through the romantic elements, it is also shown through the mature thinking of Emilia and in the general shift in the tone in Maniscalco’s writing. Due to being a reader who loves YA but is in my 20s, I thought this shift was one of the main reasons why Kingdom of the Cursed grabbed my attention so quickly. The second major difference was in the story shifting from a plot based tale to one that is character driven. I felt so much more invested in the characters in Kingdom of the Cursed, and because there are so many parts of the plot that are complex, I found that it really helped me enjoy the series more by focusing in on the growth of the characters. I mention all of this because these new dierections Maniscalso is taking is what is going to not only ensure that I read the next book, but that I also run to the bookstore to grab it!

Speaking of Kingdom of the Cursed being character driven…. let’s talk about how Miss. Emilia di Carlo, the prospective queen of Hell who I didn’t wholly like in Kingdom of the Wicked. Man oh MAN did her character grow into her own in this book! Was she bloodthirsty, super pissed off a good portion of the time, and vengeful to the max like she was in Kingdom of the Cursed? Yes, yes she was, maybe even more so, but there was so much more to her character this time around! I think there is a lot to be said for the fact that our life experiences change us in more ways than we probably even realize, and the reader sees this come to life so clearly in Emilia’s thoughts and feelings about everything happening around her. I lived for the moments when she would stop and logically dissect the information she was given rather than just jump to conclusions. One of my favorite parts of her character development was the fact that Emilia began to no longer care about the expectations people set for her and instead made attempts to embrace her own thoughts/feelings and act on them. Given her character’s age and all the change (and risk-taking/scheming) that is often associated with late adolescence, I think Maniscalco did a remarkable job of showing this in Emilia’s character in a way that many readers can relate to. Overall, I’m so happy with how far Emilia’s character has come since the first book, and I can’t wait to see how much more she grows in the next book!

Honestly, my opinion (and endless love) for Wrath hasn’t really changed much since Kingdom of the Wicked. If anything, I love him more, even though he had his moments in this book when I wanted to punch him for being so cold. The juxtaposition of his title and who he is at heart is equally as compelling now as it was in Kingdom of the Cursed, but, as twisted as it sounds, it was kind of good to see him actually see his darker side show. I mean, come on. You can’t expect a price of Hell to be a saint, can you? I have a strange feeling that this next book will be like Kingdom of the Cursed was for Emilia – an opportunity for his character to become more in tune with his feelings. Who knows? Maybe we’ll even get a deeper dive into his past and see his real truth! No matter, though. I would literally read 12 more books if there were that many in the series just to learn more about Wrath and laugh at his dry sense of humor!

Other than the relatively minor things mentioned above, there is one MAJOR reason why I couldn’t give Kingdom of the Cursed five stars. In Chapter 17 of the book, there is some demonic influence happening that, quite honestly, I found extremely disturbing and some things that go down don’t appear to be completely consentual. I personally feel as though the chapter does not add anything more to the book other than some very negative shock value, and while I think I understand what the author was trying to get at by including it, I’m just not on board and wanted to provide its potential readers with a heads up that this is something they should prepare themselves for. This didn’t ruin the rest of the book for me, obviously, but it did make me take a step back for sure.

I know everyone dreads the second book slump when reading a book in a trilogy, but I can honestly say that you have absolutely nothing to fear when it comes to Kingdom of the Cursed. Maniscalco’s writing was hauntingly beautiful, and the shift from a young adult audience to that of a new adult crowd was seamless. If you are like me and are obsessed with books that have complex plots but are mainly character driven, I have no doubt you will fall madly in love with Maniscalco’s newest installment of the Kingdom of the Wicked series and be desperate to see what is in store next for Emila, Wrath, and all of the supporting demons, witches, and mortals the reader is introduced to.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

Let’s just keep this really simple: If you thought you loved Kingdom of the Wicked, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet so you best get you a copy of Kingdom of the Cursed ASAP, particularly if you are a reader who loves books that are YA/New Adult crossover titles!

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