Sex, art, and scandal in Kerri Maniscalco’s latest novel.
“Unlike in a fairy-tale, the prince who’s 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.” Kerri Maniscalco, the #1 New York Times bestselling author, returns to the world of Kingdom of the Wicked with her latest novel, Throne of the Fallen; a story of desire, longing and female pleasure.
After his demon court begins to crumble, the Prince of Envy receives a cryptic note signalling the beginning of a deadly game. Envy has never claimed to be a saint and he knows it will take more than a hint of sin to win. Nothing will stand in his way as he faces riddles, hexed objects, anonymous players. Maybe except for his burning desire for the beautiful and enticing Camilla. An artist with troubles of her own: a desperate mistake has landed Camilla in debt to a notorious rake, Lord Vexley. Threatened with a ruinous scandal, she is forced to enter a devil’s bargain with Envy. A bargain that reveals secrets and ignites passions that neither of them expects.
Together, Envy and Camilla must embark on a perilous journey through the Underworld—from glittering demon courts to the sultry vampire realm and beyond—while trying to avoid the most dangerous traps of all: falling in love. Throne of the Fallen evokes tones of Oscar Wilde’s A Picture of Dorian Gray but with ramped up passion and sex scenes that dandies in the fin de siècle could only dare to imagine. Like Dorian Gray, this novel is primarily concerned with art: Camilla is a talented artist living in the mortal realm of Waverly Green who is bound to the whims of the manipulative Lord Vexley after painting a forgery for him. When Envy enters the human realm, he is tasked with getting Camilla to paint a hexed throne for him as part of the game, triggering the beginning of a game of their own.
The artistry of Throne of the Fallen doesn’t end with Camilla’s occupation. The descriptive and scenic writing by Mansicalco places the reader firmly in a fantastical and floral version of Victorian high society in the dandy era. Stunning handmade gowns with jewel-encrusted bodices are worn by pretty characters who flaunt in the ton, whispering gossip at parties. The columnists who publish society scandals hide in the corners of parties, spying on the residences of the ton’s members, waiting to report on the next scandalous scoop. Waverly Green is a revised fantastical court of the likes of Bridgerton.
The enticing exterior of Throne of the Fallen (you shouldn’t normally judge a book by its cover, but in this case, you must) only reflects Maniscalco’s delectable writing. The language is straight-forward and vivid. The simplistic but detailed style drives the novel’s action forward, making this a page-turner for any reader obsessed with the subgenre of erotic fantasy. If you love heated romance look no further. I have never read any fantasy novel that has as many sex scenes as this one. Maniscalco puts Camilla’s pleasure first and Envy is not afraid of foreplay. Whilst Maniscalco’s plot and sentence-structure sit in the domain of YA fantasy, the content is far from YA. Throne of the Fallen makes Sarah J. Maas’s sex scenes look vanilla. However, as the first consideration seems to be sex and passion, the rest of the plot is secondary. At times the game felt opaque, too abstract, lost amidst the tangled limbs and dirty talk, with Maniscalco’s focus on the very teenage notion of ‘the chase.’
Camilla and Envy are both likeable characters, flawed by their secrets. And whilst Throne of the Fallen contains explicit scenes at every turn, the text reflects a number of aspects about relationships in modern society. Vexley’s manipulation of Camilla is an example of domestic abuse using emotional manipulation as a gaslighting tactic; Envy is a fuckboy, known for his one-night rule with his partners. Despite this, Camilla is an outspoken, strong-minded, talented woman with a curvaceous figure, unwilling to be tamed by the males in her world. Throne of the Fallen is in many ways a feminist and subversive retelling of the handsome prince who intrudes on the peaceful life of the maiden for his own gain.
Throne of the Fallen is out now in bookstores and available online.