Kingdom of the Cursed
- Author: Kerri Maniscalco
- Genre: Fantasy
- Publication Date: October 5, 2021
- Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
- Series: Kingdom of the Wicked #2
CONTENT WARNING: gore, violence, blood, grief, forced non-sexual behavior involving magical control without consent
One sister. Two sinful princes. Infinite deception with a side of revenge … Welcome to Hell.
On a mission to avenge her beloved sister, Emilia has traveled to the Seven Circles and sold her soul to become Queen of the Wicked, with the enigmatic Prince of Wrath by her side. But the first rule in the court of the Wicked? Trust no one. Because the longer Emilia resides in Hell, that seductive world of vice, the clearer it becomes that nothing is what it seems. Even Wrath, her onetime ally, may be keeping secrets about his true nature. And soon Emilia finds herself trapped between Wrath and his even more wicked brother, the Prince of Pride, king of demons.
Faced with backstabbing courtiers, luxurious palaces, dazzling galas, and conflicting clues about what truly happened to her sister, Emilia finds herself on a mission to unlock the mysteries of her own past and uncover the answers she craves. As long as her sins don’t catch up to her first …
This book took me for a loop. More than one to be honest. First off, I was expecting this to be firmly in the realm of YA, but it’s most certainly not. It’s definitely more along the lines of NA, with a much steamier theme running through it, although it doesn’t step fully into erotica, or even go as far as SJM’s more spicy offerings, but it’s definitely a lot more sexual that the previous book.
I jumped into this just after finishing an audiobook reread of book 1, and this is the kind of book that I just couldn’t justify rushing through — I wanted to savor every moment of it. The writing is full of Maniscalco’s signature style; full of gorgeous prose, with lush and evocative descriptions of settings and amazing styles that made it so easy to build a beautiful picture in my imagination.
The characters are just as intriguing as always, although as usual, there’s no shortage of secrets, intrigue, and maneuvering amongst the Princes of Hell and their various subjects. There’s a constant sense of danger running through the pages, almost as heady as the immense sexual tension between Emilia and Wrath, despite the fact that she isn’t there to be his intended. In addition, Emilia is still struggling with her grief over the loss of her twin, while also facing the fact that this realm amplifies and twists her own emotions.
“The lines of who we were and how I felt about us were blurring. I had no idea if it was simply because he was familiar, and I was desperate to clutch at anything even remotely comfortable while here. Or if the sins and illusions were doing their hardest to confuse the matter. When we kissed earlier he’d felt nothing like an adversary.”
Everything was going fine and good until I got to chapter 17. This is where things got problematic for me. While Wrath is especially respectful of Emilia’s free will, he’s working on training her. She did ask him to train her, although he took it in a different direction than she expected. And although sexual consent is an important theme that is clearly respected throughout the book, apparently consent doesn’t apply to bodily autonomy. Because there’s a scene where he uses his magical powers to take over her free will and force her to do (non-sexual) things that are against her will. Despite the fact that she flat-out states that she doesn’t consent, he doesn’t stop. And this didn’t sit right with me at all. Even the fact that sexual consent was discussed and respected later in the book, it didn’t make up for this chapter.
“‘You’re a pig.’ ‘I am much worse than that. But a bargain is a bargain.’ ‘I did not consent to this bullshit.’ ‘Lie. You asked me to arm you.’”
As usual, the story led up to a major cliffhanger. And while I enjoyed much of the ride, it honestly didn’t feel like a lot actually happened in this book. Ultimately, I was left with more questions than answers by the time I finished this story. But I already know that I’m going to be lined up to get my hands on the next book, partially because I’m a sucker for Kerri Maniscalco, and partially because I just have to find out some answers. However, this one was more frustrating than satisfying.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 12
Categories: Book Review
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