I hate to say this, because as a whole I did enjoy this trilogy, but my gawd I could have done without half the subplots in this book. Where Kingdom of the Cursed minimized the plot movement to a point of stagnation until the end, Kingdom of the Feared decided to throw everything everywhere, all at once. And not in a good way.
THAT SAID. Outside of the stupid, annoying non-Emilia-and-Wrath-related arcs in this book, the main couple and their relationship did not disappoint. I wish them well for eternity and thensome!
SPOILER ALERT: Kingdom of the Feared is the third and last book of the Kingdom of the Wicked trilogy, so definitely expect spoilers from the previous two books.
KINGDOM OF THE FEARED
by Kerri Maniscalco
Little, Brown, September 2022
NA fantasy, romance
Rated: 3 / 5 cookies
Emilia is reeling from the shocking discovery that her twin sister, Vittoria, is alive. But before she faces the demons of her past, Emilia yearns to claim her king, the seductive Prince of Wrath, in the flesh. Emilia doesn’t simply desire his body, she wants his heart and soul—but that’s something the enigmatic demon can’t promise her.
When a high-ranking member of House Greed is assassinated, Emilia and Wrath are drawn to the rival demon court. Damning evidence points to Vittoria as the murderer and she’s quickly declared an enemy of the Seven Circles. Despite her betrayal, Emilia will do anything to solve this new mystery and find out who her sister really is.
Together Emilia and Wrath play a sin-fueled game of deception as they work to stop the unrest that’s brewing between witches, demons, shape-shifters and the most treacherous foes of all: the Feared.
Emilia was warned that when it came to the Wicked nothing was as it seemed. But, have the true villains been much closer all along? When the truth is finally revealed, it just might end up costing Emilia her heart.
So remember when I complained about the lack of plot in my review for Kingdom of the Cursed and how everything there was kind of just character-centric? Yeah, I take all of that back. I kind of miss just reading about the shenanigans the characters got up to. Because honestly, Kingdom of the Feared was a lot of “WTF” moments without the satisfaction of finding out the WHY.
But let me start at the beginning.
KotF starts immediately after the ending of KotC (not counting the prologue I really didn’t pay much attention to, because honestly, can we get back to how Wrath is going to react to Emilia’s “come-hither” pleas at the end of book 2?!). Wrath and Emilia are about to have another one of their sexy times, but Emilia is abruptly spirited–yes, I mean that in as literal of a sense as I can get–away into the Shadow Realm by the machinations of her actually-alive twin sister and her latest boy-toy, Domenico (gawd, I hate this guy almost as much as I hate Antonio). Turns out Emilia’s still got a lot to learn about herself and her past, and Vittoria wants nothing more than for her sister to unleash her hellish and fearsome powers. Then we start actually finding out the stuff and nonsense of that particular mystery.
Which, to be honest, could not have been further from my mind, especially because these reveals made things even more confusing. If anything, the more the plot unraveled, the more questions I ended up with, and it even got me to the point where I actually missed the murder mysteries at the beginning. Finding out what truly caused the murdering seemed so anticlimactic, and I mostly just sat there, taking things in, and asking “FOR WHAT?!”
Also, I know this was part folklore and there were mentions of vampires and werewolves–because of course there are vampires and werewolves in a story about witches–but I was actually hoping this trilogy didn’t throw them in willy nilly. Adding more supernatural beings to the mix kind of took away from the intrigue of the world, and the focus went away from the actual Wicked–and the coven of witches–to the threat of a war against vampires, werewolves, and the other denizens of Hell. I honestly thought the conflict between the Wicked, the Feared, and the witches was big enough of a deal not to have to add anything else to it. Give me more story about the curse with the First Witch, and less about the vampire ruler “trying” to broker for peace. Show me more of Wrath’s brothers and their shenanigans; hell, even the whole thing with Greed was interesting enough, and could have been done without adding extra entities into the subplot. Overall, there was just too much going on and at some point I found myself skimming certain parts just to get to the good bits.
THAT SAID. There were definitely a lot of good bits.
And some of them involve the other Wicked Princes. Mostly Lust and Envy. I particularly loved that these two brothers are fleshed out even more, especially since they had such a bad rep from Kingdom of the Wicked. We see a more sassy and playful side to both, and Lust takes the clown award for his sin. AND his zingers.
“Hurry along. Some of us have yet to indulge in our baser desires. Murder, unfortunately, seems to be an aphrodisiac only for House Wrath. Surprising to none actually.”
The fact that he’s walked in on Emilia and Wrath in flagrante delicto and just continues to smirk about it in an unashamed way is owed to his House’s specialty, but still. It’s hilarious to see. And the Envy-Lust shenanigan near the end?
I twisted in time to see Envy kick Lust in the shin.
Yeah, I can see him being my second favorite sin. Because, you know, there’s always Wrath.
“Your methods might not have always been ideal by mortal standards, but everything you’ve done has been to help me.”
Which comes to, once again, circle back to my favorite thing about the trilogy itself: Wrath and Emilia. I think by this point, the relationship between the two has settled down inasmuch as that there’s less of a need to kill Wrath in Emilia’s point of view. Finding out more about herself in terms of her past and her relationship with Wrath kind of makes reading through all the stuff and nonsense worthwhile. Besides, I couldn’t imagine these two walking red flags with anyone else but themselves. Two negatives can often form a positive, so why not these two, right?
But there’s also just because of my favorite sinfully murderous boi. Who somehow has no problem casually dropping a mountain down on someone, ripping somebody’s tongue or head off, or, you know, making someone pee their pants as he simultaneously wrecks an entire gambling hall because his wife is being threatened/ridiculed/flirted with. And yet the same guy also is particularly loyal, thoughtful, and absolutely wrecked with love for said wife, to the point that he is willing to make a great deal of sacrifices just to make her happy.
“I don’t give a high holy fuck about my court, my lady. Magic does not make you powerful. Your courage. Your heart. Your mind. Your very soul makes you a force to be reckoned with.”
Romantic words, those. He’s filled with them, I’m telling ya.
…and he’s also got some filthy lines, too. But I’ll stop there.
3 out of 5 cookies! Overall, despite my complaints, I actually did like this series. I thought it was a solid trilogy, and the ending was definitely satisfying, albeit dragged a bit in the resolution stage. My version of the book also has Envy’s POV as bonus content, so that was a plus!