Published: October 27, 2020
Genre(s): fantasy, young adult, romance
Read as: eARC
One brutal murder.
A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…
And an intoxicating romance.
Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.
Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems… (Goodreads)
“Man had a funny way of blaming the devil for things he didn’t like.”
I’m having a difficult time formulating clear thoughts on this book. If I look back at the notes I took while reading this eARC most of them relate to being bored, wishing something would happen, and getting annoyed with our main character talking about food incessantly. Some people really enjoy food descriptions but I am not one of those people. If I had to suffer one more page of pasta sauce and recipe ideas I was just going to toss the whole thing.
Let me back up…
When I received the ARC of this book I was a little apprehensive. I had read Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series and was consistently underwhelmed. The series had such potential but I just felt like the author never capitalized on it and her characters lacked all interest and spark for me. Be that as it may, I absolutely loved the idea of the Wicked (demon manifestations of the fabled Deadly Sins) come to Earth leaving chaos and mayhem in their wake. The premise had me hooked.
However, and there is always a however, I was once again let down. Three-quarters of this book is a slog to get through. Our main character, Emilia, is the epitome of the idiot main character thinking they know better and doing whatever they want even though it goes against common sense. She does not listen, she does not observe her surroundings and make intelligent or informed choices, and she allows herself to be manipulated over and over and over again. Emilia is character I would have expected from early 2000s YA but I thought the genre had outgrown her particular batch of stereotypes.
Then we get to the “romance.” I’m sure someone will swoon over it but it sure won’t be me. I don’t want to give spoilers but I will say that the supposed romance revolves around manipulation and emotional abuse. I understand the concept of “torture your darlings” but good grief was this lackluster romantic entanglement completely unbelievable.
I feel a rant building up so let me try to tie this up before I get a good head of steam rolling. This book was DULL. The hidden bad guy was obvious, themes such a family loyalty are introduced as fact and then action never supports them, and the plot drags so badly I fell asleep while reading this on more than one occasion. Also, let us not forget about the plethora of convenient plot points. Emilia gets into a bind or does something stupid? Here is a convenient plot point to get her out of it that doesn’t make sense or encourage continuity! Repeat for 448 pages.
Will I read the next book in this series? Maybe. The ending had promise and we were left on a considerable cliffhanger that once again managed to snag my interest but I’m not sure I can drag myself through another bone dry story like this again.