Hello! Today I’m bringing you a review as a part of the blog tour for Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan. I was so excited I nearly burst into tears when I got an email from the publisher asking if I would be interested in being a part of the blog tour, so without further ado, let’s get on with the post.
Buy it here!
In case you haven’t heard of Wicked Saints before now, here’s a little bit more about the book:
“Prepare for a snow-frosted, blood-drenched fairy tale where the monsters steal your heart and love
ends up being the nightmare.” – Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-
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.
“This book destroyed me and I adored it.”- Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author
Praise for Wicked Saints:
“Prepare for a snow frosted, blood drenched fairy tale where the monsters steal your heart and love ends up being the nightmare. Utterly absorbing.” – Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author
of The Star-Touched Queen
“Full of blood and monsters and magic—this book destroyed me and I adored it. Emily is a wicked storyteller, she’s not afraid to hurt her characters or her readers. If you’ve ever fallen in love with a villain you will fall hard for this book”- Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval
“This is the novel of dark theology and eldritch blood-magic that I’ve been waiting for all my life. It’s got
a world at once brutal and beautiful, filled with characters who are wounded, lovable, and ferocious enough to break your heart. A shattering, utterly satisfying read.” – Rosamund Hodge, author of Cruel Beauty and Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
“Wicked Saints is a lush, brutal, compelling fantasy that is dark, deep, and bloody—absolutely riveting! With a boy who is both man and monster, mysterious saints with uncertain motives, and a girl filled with holy magic who is just beginning to understand the full reaches of her power, this gothic jewel of a story will sink its visceral iron claws into you, never letting go until you’ve turned the last page. And truthfully, not even then -the explosive ending will haunt you for days! ” – Robin LaFevers, New York Times bestselling author of the His Fair Assassin trilogy
“Dark, bloody, and monstrously romantic. This is the villain love interest that we’ve all been waiting for.” – Margaret Rogerson, New York Times bestselling author of An Enchantment of Ravens
“Seductively dark and enchanting, Wicked Saints is a trance you won’t want to wake from. Duncan has skillfully erected a world like no other, complete with provocative magic, sinister creatures, and a plot that keeps you guessing. This spellbinding YA fantasy will bewitch readers to the very last page.” – Adrienne Young, New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep
Number of pages: 400
Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1
Rating (out of five stars): 5
Release Date: April 2nd, 2018
*Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.
So I got really nervous when I found out my review was going to be coming out on release day… for the official blog tour. I was so excited for Wicked Saints before I even signed up for the blog tour, but if you’ve been here for a while you know that I’m frequently disappointed by books I’m super excited for because I’m a very picky reader. However, as soon as I picked Wicked Saints up I forgot all that and got lost in Kalyazin, Tranavia, and the midst of a holy war.
Oh my god this book was so good. As I said on Goodreads, my reaction after finishing this was to take in a few gasping breaths (because I had STOPPED BREATHING… MULTIPLE TIMES while reading this book), and then pull my covers over my head and just lie like that in silence. If that’s not a sign of a good book, I don’t know what is.
Unfortunately, reviews tend to require a few more substantial arguments for why you should read the book, so first let’s talk about the characters. I love my new sarcastic murder children so much. Like I will protect Nadya at all costs, and she would probably stab me for it. She’s fierce, and loyal, and she just wants to do what’s right with the power she’s been given, but she also makes mistakes along the way. I love her, and I will fight anyone who reduces her to just a love interest.
There’s also Serefin, the powerful blood mage prince who loves his country and his people, but who will also 100% ask you what drink is being served to make sure he can get drunk enough off it. And completing our trio of disasters is Malachiasz, our anxious monster boy who just wants to fix his country. They’re all just so flawed and human, and I love them so much.
There are also some amazing side characters in this books, and they genuinely all feel completely fleshed out. They don’t feel like side characters. I feel like I could probably tell you as much if not more about Ostyia (or Kacper, or Parijahan, or Rashid) as I can tell you about Malachiasz.
The romance is so well done, and my heart hurts because reasons. I’m so invested in it, and I feel super guilty for shipping it as much as I do, but it just felt so organic. It’s not insta-lovey. It doesn’t feel forced. It just sort of happens.
I’ve touched on this a little bit, but I was sucked in from start to finish. It was such a shame when I had to stop reading to actually do school work or perform basic functions. Like this book has my whole heart. I’m still screaming writing this review a week after finishing it. It also got to the point where I had roughly 15% left in the book, and I had apparently started digging my nails into my hand I was so stressed. This continued for the rest of the book, along with me screaming expletives at my phone and stopping to update Goodreads because my body needed oxygen. I don’t think I’ve ever held my breath because I was so invested in a book before.
There is a huge content warning on this book for self-harm. 2/3 main characters are blood mages, and they use a lot of blood magic. If that’s not something you can handle at this point in time, it might be best for you to sit this one out. The blood magic is an integral part of the book.
Barring that, the magic system and the world-building were so well done. If you told me Kalyazin and Tranavia were real places, I would be very concerned, but I would also totally believe you. I think the thing that really helps with that is that religion plays a major role in the book. There are a lot of YA fantasy books that have one scene where some vague ceremony is performed in some temple/church in book one, and then they just call it a day on including religion in their fantasy world (I am thinking of a specific book, but you can insert a lot of other books here). I’m not religious, but even I can tell that’s not how it works, and that’s not how it works in Wicked Saints. Instead, we have a very devout character, excerpts from books on the gods and saints, and you get to see the effect religion (or lack thereof) has on these two waring countries. You can see that it plays a part in how their countries are run, and their everyday lives.
Going off that, this book is so unique. I never knew I needed a book about monsters, magic, and fantasy Poland and Russia before reading Wicked Saints, but now I’m sad there aren’t more books like it out there. It’s also very dark, and my inner emo is very happy about it. Dark in YA doesn’t always mean dark, but here it certainly does and I could not be happier about it.
The reveals are also so well set up that figuring them out ahead of time just feels more shocking than predictable. For example, I have a Goodreads update at 51% that just reads “Oh my god I think I just figured out a thing based on one line from our favourite idiot, Serefin. I want to scream”. I did in fact scream when it was actually revealed that I was right, because even if you figure out the reveals there are so many other implications to consider.
Overall, Wicked Saints was so well executed and gripping, and I would die to have book 2 in my hands right now. It has therefore earned 5 out of 5 stars from me.
EMILY A. DUNCAN works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons. Wicked Saints is her first book. She lives in Ohio.