I fell in love with this cover when I saw it on NetGalley, and the summary sealed the deal for me. I quickly requested the book and was thankfully approved. So, big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of the book in exchange for my honest review! Spoiler alert: I LOVED THIS BOOK.
A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.
A prince in danger must decide who to trust.
A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.
Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.
In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.
I want to preface this by saying I’m scared that this is a trilogy. The first book already messed with my emotions enough, I’m not sure I can handle two more books of emotional turmoil.
This was a really great book! I loved the slavic roots in the worldbuilding so very much. The characters were so multi-dimensional (maybe in more than a figurative sense??) and were always surprising me. The plot was such a beautifully twisted thing that never let you trust anyone fully and always kept you turning the pages. Plus, there’s magic. That’s awesome.
Nadya, one of our POV main characters, was a very compelling person. Throughout the book she is conflicted with her beliefs. Growing up in a monastery with divine powers from the gods is enough pressure already. Add a dash of war, a sprinkle of romance, and a hint of doubt and you have a relatable character who, at the root of everything, is learning how to find her own voice in a sea of others telling her what to do and how to live.
Serefin, our other POV main character, is similarly conflicted. Both High Prince and war general, Serefin has grown up with multiple identities. On the front he is a general, with his friends he is a goofy teenager, and at court he is the dignified High Prince. Like Nadya he struggles with whom and what he can trust, especially when he is called back to court under the guise of traditional courtship ceremonies only to feel surrounded by enemies.
And then we have Malachiasz. Oh, Malachiasz. He is by far the most mysterious character we have in Wicked Saints. I would have loved to read some chapters from his POV, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. *sigh* He plays a central role in the book for our characters and our plot, both providing clarity and confusion as the story progresses.
Did I mention this book has magic? Because it does, and it is really cool magic.
Nadya can talk with the gods and, if they give it to her, can wield their magic. On the other side of this magic spectrum we have blood magic which, duh, requires blood to use. The magic is a main reason these two nations have been at war for so long. On the one side we have the divine and on the other side we have the heretics. Of course there’s more to the war than that, but a lot of it has to do with their magic systems. And of course the magic spectrum isn’t so black and white, which adds more intrigue to our characters and plot.
Long story short, you need to read this book. This is one I’m going to need to buy for my shelves just so I can look at it and remember the pain it put me through, and then of course reread it.
But really, if you’re into Laini Taylor with a touch of April Genevieve Tucholke and gothic undertones, you’ll love this book. Alternatively, if you love having your heart shattered into a million pieces, this is the perfect fir for you.