This was better than the second book, but still… I don’t know. I have feelings.
Plot/Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Character development: ★★★★
My review of book one, Kingdom of the Wicked.
My review of book two, Kingdom of the Cursed.
This entire review is a reaction review, NOT a book summary. It is also filled with spoilers for the entire series. Please don't read if you don't want spoilers.
It's a few days after my read. I intentionally let it stew for a bit to see if I felt any other types of way about it. I still feel the same, which is... conflicted.
My journey with this series was a rollercoaster.
I absolutely LOVED the first book. I was obsessed. As an early ARC reader, I devoured it and then spent several months hyping it up to anyone that would listen. When book two came out, I bought it and its special editions immediately—and then waited for the release of book three, because I wanted to avoid cliffhangers and read the entire series in one chunk.
I'm kind of glad I did that, because if I'd read book two (Kingdom of the Cursed) right away... I likely wouldn't even be here writing a review for book three. I hated book two that much.
This third book was much better than Kingdom of the Cursed—more plot, a return to Maniscalco's clear plot strength (mysteries), and the character development felt authentic again. Kingdom of the Feared had a few notable plot twists that surprised me and I felt that the ending fit Emelia's journey given her particular set of character traits.
I guess... I just wanted more from this series. I wanted Wrath to be a stronger character, in line with who I thought he'd have to be after being alive for hundreds of years. (He read so young.) I also continued to find Emelia's weird blend of naivety + adult content super weird to read as an adult woman. She's like a baby in terms of life experience, and yet the plot throws her into these very New Adult situations and I'll be honest, it squicked me out a bit. Her weird switch from immature teen to Grown Adult Woman vibes in between books two and three due to... plot reasons... was also super abrupt to me. I wanted that transition to either have more time to grow organically or have it occur earlier in the story so I had time to get used to it. The immediate flip was odd.
Strengths in this series—even with my lackluster feelings—were still present in Kingdom of the Feared. I think this concept is super fun. I think the realm of Hell and its various kingdoms is worth exploring further, possibly with more intention spent on character depth and unique plot structure. I loved the gimick of the seven deadly sins represented in seven men. The romantasy element there is promising—I am planning on picking up her spinoff with Envy this fall, which should lean into that quite a bit. I think the storytelling is there.
I'm worried I'm alone in this corner, as a lot of other people whose reviews I trust not only LOVED book two, but they also seemed to enjoy this last book more than I did. Oh well--I still will recommend this to older teens and adult readers who don't mind a weaker plot arc.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.