Review: Kingdom of the Wicked (#1) by Kerri Maniscalco

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Emilia and her twin sister Victoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Victoria 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 discover who did this, and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.
Then Emilia meets Wrath, the outlier among the seven demon brethren, always choosing duty over pleasure. He’s been tasked by his master with investigating a series of women’s murders on the island. When Emilia and Wrath’s fates collide, it’s clear this disturbing mystery will take a bewitching turn…

This book was so different to Stalking Jack the Ripper, Kerri Maniscalco’s other book series. Although of course, she couldn’t resist making this series also focused on a murder! The setting of this book is completely different, as it is set in Italy around a monastery and a restaurant, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. I adore books about food and as the main character Emilia works in her family’s restaurant, there is no lack of food discussions. I just find that when written well, they really draw me into the story and make the book feel very real and tangible, which I loved.

After Emilia’s sister was brutally murdered, she discovered her sister had been tampering with dark magic. I really loved the magic system, which felt unique and creative with the different witches and demons across this story. The relationship Emilia had with Wrath and the other demons was so enticing and enthralling to read about. Kerri Maniscalco knows how to write a dark and mysterious love interest!

Love is the most powerful magic.

Personally, I loved the mystery element almost as much as those in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. I didn’t guess the killer, but I wasn’t shocked to find out who the killer was, if that makes sense. I don’t tend to try to guess the killer in books like this, but it definitely did feel a little more obvious than in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series.

However, I really enjoyed the plot in general and oh my gosh, that ending was so good! It left on such a cliffhanger and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. My only complaint about this book was I just felt quite a disconnect from the characters. I think this may come from going straight from Stalking Jack the Ripper to Kingdom of the Wicked but I just felt I struggled to relate or connect to Emilia and Wrath after loving Thomas and Audrey Rose so much.

Above all else, remember that. It will always guide you where you need to go.

Overall, I enjoyed this but it was the kind of book you read and think other people will enjoy it a little more than you did. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, it just wasn’t perfect for me!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Capturing the Devil (#4) by Kerri Maniscalco

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.
Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.
Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

I really didn’t know if Kerri could top Escaping from Houdini and then she pulled this out of the bag. I knew I was saving that half star for a reason and she didn’t let me down! I’ve been reading this series with my lovely friends Amy and Jo and it’s been so fun – we’re also going to be buddy reading Kingdom of the Wicked soon and I can’t wait to read it. This series improved ever so slightly with every book and I could see Kerri’s writing getting better and more enthralling.

The characters in this book are my absolute favourite and I adore them. I became more connected to Thomas and Audrey Rose with each book and I really went on a rollercoaster with them throughout Capturing the Devil! It left my gasping, shocked, in tears and also with a warmth in my heart. Even though I had an idea of where this book would lead, I was absolutely hooked at the twists and turns.

Love is immortal. 

Audrey Rose is honestly one of my favourite female leads ever. Her character and romance with Thomas is absolutely timeless. Her determination and individualism is amazing, especially for the time, and I admire her so much. She suffers from an injury at the end of Escaping From Houdini that leaves her with a limp and she uses a cane throughout this book. Not only is this disability rep, but is also Own Voices as Kerri has a disability herself!

I adored the setting of this book and I really enjoyed reading about New York and Chicago! Reading about the Chicago World Fair was enchanting and I loved that element of the book, it allowed me to really picture it. I also really enjoyed the Author’s Note at the back of the book which explained the inspirations for the story, what was based on real events and places, and even how to visit where the locations of this book are set! I really appreciate Kerri adding these little details as it fascinated me.

Death can neither touch nor steal it.

Overall, this was an epic rollercoaster of a conclusion to a series I’ve really enjoyed. It has some of the best characters I’ve read and has made me fall in love with a historical series which I would not usually pick up! Thank you Amy for introducing me and Jo to this series!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Becoming the Dark Prince (#3.5) by Kerri Maniscalco

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Goodreads

Enigmatic, brooding, and darkly handsome, Thomas Cresswell has always been the one mystery Audrey Rose has never been able to fully solve. As brilliant partners in crime investigation, they understand each other perfectly…but as young lovers, their passionate natures have led to both euphoria and heartbreak throughout the Stalking Jack the Ripper series.
This novella features a collection of scenes that takes place during and after the pair’s horrifying Atlantic voyage in Escaping From Houdini. Experience new and familiar scenes from Thomas’s unique point of view, including an intensely personal look into his plea for Audrey Rose’s hand in marriage.

This is a novella from Thomas’s point of view, focusing on his relationship with Audrey Rose. This has only been published in ebook format, and is set at the very end of Escaping from Houdini and before the events of Capturing the Devil. I’d definitely recommend reading this after Escaping from Houdini like we did! Again, I read this one with Amy and Jo as part of our buddy read of the whole series. I’m really glad Amy recommended we read this one too as we all enjoyed it quite a lot!

Winning is an archaic way or looking at romance.

I really like Thomas as a character and a love interest. Learning about his perspective on their relationship and his own inner demons was really interesting. His passion and love for Audrey Rose is so heartwarming and his willingness to let her make her own choices (especially in this historical setting) is so beautiful. Their relationship is so great to read about and I love how they treat each other as complete equals, especially due to the time period.

The setting was lovely, and I’m really excited to read about the couple exploring New York! I love the descriptions of the surroundings and the clothing, it really makes the books feel historically accurate.

Her heart isn’t like a cheap round of cards. Love isn’t a game. It’s a choice.

I really enjoyed this novella and I’m glad it was my first read of the year! If you like the series, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Escaping from Houdini (#3) by Kerri Maniscalco

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a travelling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

This is the third book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series and it might just about be my favourite so far. Again, I buddy read this one with my lovely friends Amy and Jo, and I’m so glad we’ve been reading these together! This book is set straight after Hunting Prince Dracula, with the two main characters Audrey and Thomas travelling on a cruise ship across the ocean to America. I didn’t realise this would actually be set on the ship but I honestly ended up loving it!

I’ve been lucky enough to go on a cruise once in my life and this book definitely captured the essence of being on a cruise ship, with the luxurious and elabroate lifestyle and enchanting shows. I really liked how Kerri used the classic cruise ship magic show and made it into a carnival with lots of behind the scenes extravaganzas.

I love you… More than all the stars in the universe. 

I’ve always enjoyed books with carnivals, circuses and other games, such as Caraval and The Night Circus. This book really held elements of those with the carnival on the ship, and I really enjoyed reading about the carnival nights on the ship. The contrast of the carnival with the darker events happening behind the scenes was really interesting and intriguing.

As usual, I really enjoyed reading about Audrey Rose and continues to hold her own in this book. Her relationship with Thomas feels mature and they both have their own independence. I really like how the romance takes a backseat and is a subplot to the book.

In this life and ever after. I love you.

Again, I had absolutely no idea who the killer was and Kerri constantly manages to surprise me! I’m always trying to work it out without success. I can’t wait to read the next and last book!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Hunting Prince Dracula (#2) by Kerri Maniscalco

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend. 
But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

I buddy read this book with Amy and Jo, who I buddy read the first book with and it was so much fun despite being deep in assignments and busy at work and only managing to read a very small amount a day! As with the first book, Maniscalco has the most amazing way of describing the world Audrey and Thomas are in. This book is set in snowy Romania, and funnily enough we ended up reading it over some of the days in the book, as it is written kind of in diary format and set in December!

I adored the setting of this book and it just felt so magical, especially in the snow. The first part of the book really reminded me of Murder on the Orient Express, and I loved how much I could picture it. The castle that most of this book is set in was also so well described, and I could picture it so well along with the nearby village they travelled in to.

You are not mine to take.” He brushed his lips against mine. Softly, so softly I might have imagined them there. My eyes fluttered shut.

As with the first book, Audrey Rose made for an excellent protagonist. I loved how strong and independent she is, and she just really holds her own, especially for the main character of a book set in the Victorian times. She continues to be such an admirable woman of her time and I really enjoyed reading about the decisions she makes in regards to her relationships.

Thomas was also a great love interest, despite a few questionable moments that Audrey certainly doesn’t let him get away with (and I love her for it!). Again, this story has another dark mystery which I loved. It felt sufficiently creepy and atmospheric, and I had no clue who the killer was until the reveal!

He could persuade me to build a steamship to the moon when he kissed me. We could orbit the stars together. “You are yours to give.

Overall, this is an excellent edition to the first, and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read more about Audrey and Thomas and the adventures they get up to!


4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper (#1) by Kerri Maniscalco

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

I read this with my lovely friends (and colleagues!) Amy and Jo and I really liked it. Amy has been wanting us to read it for a while because it’s her favourite series ever and I’m so glad she did! We buddy read it over 2 weeks and we all loved reading it together.

I’m not usually one for historical fiction at all but this one was more steampunk horror which I loved the aesthetic of. The Victorian Gothic vibes worked so well and I loved reading about the city of London in the late 1800s. It felt like the perfect set for this book!

Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower.

Audrey Rose was my absolute favourite and I loved her as a female main character. She was so ballsy and brave and was such a strong character that I fell in love with her instantly. Some of the lines she came out with even in the first few chapters were amazing and I loved her for it. The way she defies societies norms is great and I really admired her as a character. This is exactly what we need from YA fiction for young female readers!

I also didn’t feel like the love interest took away from her character or the plot at all, I’m glad it was more of a side addition to the plot rather than the main plot. In fact, I really enjoyed the plot and I thought the element of her being a female ‘detective’ looking for Jack the Ripper. It had a real mystery element to it that intrigued me so much, especially in the last 50 pages or so! I didn’t know who Jack the Ripper was either, and was constantly kept guessing.

You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.

Overall, I really loved this book and I can’t wait to carry on with the series! The only slight thing I struggled with was the actual cutting up of the cadavers, which I honestly think I found more difficult because I’m vegan! But it only got me a couple of times and I really enjoyed reading it despite those very few scenes.

★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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