Most authors want readers to fall in love with their main characters. Yet so often in books it’s not the protagonists who readers end up adoring the most but the side-characters – those scene-stealers who appear sporadically but leave a lasting impressing. In Kerri Maniscalco’s Kingdom of the Wicked trilogy, Wrath was without a doubt the main attraction but it was his brother, Envy, who delighted and intrigued readers in equal measure. If there was any character in that series who deserved their own book – and there were quite a few contenders – it was the dark and deliciously villainous Prince of Envy. Thankfully, Maniscalco knows exactly what readers want and when she announced that she’d be writing a spin-off trilogy focusing on three different brothers, it wasn’t too difficult to guess which sinful prince she’d begin with.
Throne of the Fallen is a dual perspective standalone novel that follows Envy’s quest to save his failing court. When a cryptic invitation to join a deadly game arrives, Envy knows that this is his last chance to put an end to the devastation sweeping through his demon court. He’s determined not to let anything or anyone stand in his way of winning, but his success hinges on a mysterious artist with troubles of her own. Camilla is in debt to a notorious rake and facing ruin in more ways than one. So when the enigmatic Lord Synton – aka Envy – commissions a very specific kind of painting, Camilla is forced to enter a devil’s bargain with him. Camilla might be the key to Envy winning the game but she’s also hiding secrets that threaten to bring both their worlds crashing down around them.
Envy and Camilla’s deal takes them on a perilous journey filled with riddles, hexed objects, flirtations with temptation and anonymous players all seeking their heart’s desire. Travelling from polite society to glittering demon courts, to the seductive vampire realm to the very depths of the underworld, the grudging allies must risk everything to win the game, whilst also trying to avoid the most dangerous trap of all: falling in love. Envy might have vowed never to let anyone close enough to steal his heart but he didn’t bank on Camilla being able to slip through his defences. If Kingdom of the Wicked taught us anything, it’s that falling for a demon prince should come with its very own hazard warning. But in this book, the same should be said for falling for troubled artists too.
Unlike in a fairy tale, the prince who’s now coming for Camilla isn’t at all charming. But like all storybook villains, if Camilla isn’t careful, this dark prince just might end up capturing her heart. Unless she succeeds in the impossible and steals his wicked one first…”
Making up for any missteps the final book in Maniscalco’s original trilogy made, Throne of the Fallen is a book rooted in the dark magic and mythology of its predecessors, but it also feels entirely new. Whilst Wrath, Emilia and other beloved characters from the Wicked books make welcome cameos here, this story moves away from the Italian backdrop of Palermo and replaces it with a Regency London inspired city filled with high-society lords and ladies. The shift in atmosphere and landscape is an exciting one, instantly painting an intriguing – yet just as treacherous – world for Envy’s story. Though the tone of the book continues the intoxicating hostile-but-heated, enemies-to-lovers trope, Throne of the Fallen doesn’t rehash what’s come before. Envy is a very different character to his brother, and whilst Camilla shares some of Emilia’s traits (chiefly that she’s much more than she initially seems), the chemistry between the characters holds a different dynamic.
True to its central demon prince, this is a book infused with desire and jealousy. Every interaction between Envy and Camilla is a push-pull of who holds the cards of control. Envy revels in stoking Camilla’s jealousy and, though she initially gives off the impression of respectability, she gives back as good as she gets. The fact that Envy has a rule of only ever spending one night with any one lover makes his intensifying attraction to Camilla all the more ruinous. Yet whilst this is a book filled with sexual tension that sizzles from page to page, it’s the more tender moments – an unguarded look, an unselfish gesture – that will make readers adore Envy even more than they already did. And if there’s any character you hope will be able to break down his walls, it’s intelligent, creative and resourceful Camilla.
Throne of the Fallen is a wish-fulfilment book for Maniscalco fans. It has all the elements that readers loved about the original trilogy: ruthless but conflicted demons, brave heroines with tragic backstories, hellish monsters, sinful magic, forced-proximity angst and steamy bedroom scenes built on a love-hate battle of wills. Combine that with evocative regency vibes, cryptic treasure trail games, an appreciation of art, and the sinisterly whimsical inclusion of a troublesome fae court, and this is the kind of page-turning adult romantasy that leaves you wanting more. With two more books, featuring two different brothers, it won’t be long until readers get to travel back into Maniscalco’s dark and seductive demon world. If you comb this book carefully, you might just be able to guess at which prince will be central to the next story but half the excitement is in this anticipation, something the characters in this book know all too well.
Throne of the Fallen is published by Hodderscape on 3 October 2023