Book Series: Kingdom of the Wicked
Kingdom of the Feared (Book #3) - ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Previous reviews?: Book 1 & 2 here
Buy link?: at the end of this post ⤵️
“[Emilia] Each time I thought I knew where to start detangling this mess, a new thread knotted itself together.”
This quote from the book, on the tongue of our protagonist Emilia di Carlo, summarizes the book series for me. In my previous review on books 1 and 2, I stated the plot felt all over the place, too many puzzles thrown from different directions without a visible North to hold on to. In “Kingdom of the Feared,” some things improved. The first 30% of the book was magnificent and intriguing. So many things were happening that the story hooked me. Almost all the major conflicts and mysteries first introduced in the previous books, came to an ending. In fact, this was so that I started feeling afraid there wouldn’t be much to tell for the 70% left of the book.
As foretold, that’s exactly what happened. After that 30%, the story felt it could have ended for me. I was pretty satisfied. Of course, there were too many pages still. What happened, then? Kerri Maniscalco introduced us to new characters and courts. She even added a new conflict with a tertiary character—someone who seemed to be becoming a protagonist with such the importance the story was giving to an event she became involved in.
I remembered how in the movie business, they say editors are the ones actually making the movies. I felt this book needed that clinical approach. It needed editing. I can only imagine the author’s mind. She must have had so many incredible ideas swimming in there struggling to come together in the same book series. You see, sometimes, less is more. We already had the Wicked Princes and their Seven Circles of Hell. We had the witches and humans, with the twins Vittoria and Emilia in between. That was more than enough. We didn’t need werewolves and vampires added into the mix. They didn’t really contribute to the story. And Vespa? Remember that tertiary character I mentioned above? We don’t know anything about her. She came out of the blue. Suddenly, what happened to her becomes a central piece in this story. At the end, again, it didn’t really affect the main conflict or storyline.
What all this extra information did was deviate our attention from what really mattered. It was just a distraction. Moreover, trying to solve the main issues plus these extras, took away attention from the puzzle pieces we’ve been expecting to solve. There were some crucial moments with important characters that were subdued too easily, almost as if they didn’t matter, when they were actually la crème de la crème.
Maniscalco created like a story within a story. But because the main riddles had been solved at the beginning, and then a mix of new information was presented, the story became boring. It lost its appeal. As I said, if there are too many stimuli, you lose focus, and therefore our attention as a reader. It seems this desire of creating universes is becoming trendy. However, Marvel, for example, didn’t build their empire in just one comic or movie. It took years and pages. Give the books room to breathe. Each clan or court can have their moment to shine.
Also, maybe due to this same problem, there were some bits that were left without a satisfying resolution. For instance, the vampires seemed to be wanting more. I don’t quite believe that after being scared off that conflict ended there. Same with the witches, they seemed to be regrouping after they lost a battle. However, I don’t feel the war was over. Then, why mentioned them or involved them if they won’t have their deserved last words. Again, I’m of the belief to cut the unnecessary bits. Now, if you’re going to include them, go all in or go home. Otherwise, you’re giving more strength to my perspective that those events and characters weren’t contributing to this story.
Finally, the author repeated something I noticed in her previous books. In that review, I wrote:“you expected certain things to happen, but they didn’t for a while.” Remember how “Kingdom of the Cursed” ended? Emilia was meeting Vittoria the next morning in the Shifting Isles. This last installment resumed there. However, suddenly a lot of things started happening in the middle that makes you believe our characters forgot about that important meeting. Once more, events seem to be always competing for protagonism. Prioritization becomes crucial in this case. Secondary events are that. They shouldn’t compete with the main conflict.
Some parts of the story were interesting. I liked how some bits of the conflict were resolved, how the author tried to find a balance between happy ending and a necessary sacrifice. All in all, edition; after all, a diamond is not a diamond until it’s well polished.
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