Blog Tour Book Review: WICKED SAINTS by Emily A. Duncan
Series: Something Dark and Holy #1
Published by Wednesday Books on April 2, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Thanks so much to Wednesday Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for Wicked Saints. I’m thrilled to be able to share my thoughts on this riveting read today.
Emily A. Duncan’s Wicked Saints is a dark and gritty fantasy that captivated me and kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. It’s also a multi-layered story that features a religious war, political intrigue, morally gray characters, and a pretty hefty dose of secrets and lies.
At the center of the novel is a war between two lands, one is a land filled with heretics who rely on blood magic, while the other, a more religious land, is filled with those who worship saints and with clerics who can communicate with the saints and borrow their powers. The heretics loathe all that the religious land stands for and the King of their land has made it his mission to wipe out his enemy. This war has been raging for a long time and the King is so close to his objective, he can practically taste victory.
In fact, there is only one cleric left, a teenager named Nadya. As the last in her land who is able to call magic from the saints, Nadya had a target on her back and therefore has spent most of her life hiding in a monastery. When the novel opens, the monastery is under attack because the King’s men, including his son Crown Prince Serefin, have figured out where Nadya is hiding and have been sent to kill her.
Nadya manages to escape but is on her own until she meets up with a band of rebels, led by Malachiaz. The rebels say that they want to bring this war to an end, and when Nadya says she does as well, they hatch a plot to work together and assassinate the King. Since he’s the one driving the war, they think eliminating him is the key to peace.
When they start implementing their plan, however, it becomes clear to Nadya that nothing and no one is as they seem. She begins to question everything and has no idea who she can trust, if anyone…
Can Nadya bring an end to this war and bring peace to her people or is she destined to fail?
* * * * *
5 REASONS WHY WICKED SAINTS SHOULD BE ON YOUR MUST-READ LIST
Wicked Saints sounds pretty epic, right? Now I want to dive just a little deeper (in a non-spoilery way, of course) and share some of the highlights of the story for me. If you love these qualities as much as I do, then Wicked Saints is a must-read for you!
- Nonstop Action and Suspense. I’m all about action scenes when I read fantasy, and this book is filled with intense fight scenes. They’re violent and bloody and probably not for the faint of heart, but they are an adrenaline rush for sure. Think Game of Thrones and you’re in the right ballpark!
- Incredible Worldbuilding. It’s a Russian-inspired world and it is beautifully done. The snowy, rugged landscape, the magic system, the lore surrounding the Saints — all of it combined to make a very atmospheric read. If you’ve read Leigh Bardugo, there’s a slight Grishaverse vibe, but I actually preferred this world.
- Morally Gray Characters. The characters in Wicked Saints really drew me into the story because each one has his or her own agenda, whether political, religious or something else altogether, and all of them are willing to do whatever it takes to try to achieve that agenda. Some motives seemed purer than others, but I found myself constantly second guessing which characters were the monsters but still liking them all even if I started to consider them villains. I really liked Nadya, Serefin, and Malachiaz pretty equally even though they all couldn’t possibly be heroes. And in many ways, the character who turns out to be the most monstrous ended up being my favorite, which I totally did not see coming and was fascinated by my own reaction.
- The Magic. Nadya’s use of magic was just so cool. Most clerics have the ability to communicate with a single saint and to borrow that saint’s magic as needed. As we learn in the opening pages, however, Nadya somehow has the ability to do this with all of the saints. She therefore has a pretty powerful arsenal of magic at her disposal. While she may be the last cleric, she is a mighty one. What I loved most about her magic is that she literally has conversations with these saints in her head and they talk back to her.
- The Vultures. I don’t want to say much about this little band of creeps, but they are just deliciously evil and add an extra layer of danger throughout the story, which helped to ratchet up the suspense. Everyone is aware of the Vultures and how menacing they can be, but what no one anticipates is that these villains are somehow able to weasel their way into the castle and become unexpectedly tight with the King.
I have to admit that I was really nervous when I first started reading Wicked Saints. I had been in a fantasy rut for a while – nothing I was reading was holding my attention – and I worried that Wicked Saints would fall short for that reason. I’m thrilled to say that I had absolutely nothing to be worried about though because Wicked Saints is everything that I love in a dark fantasy. The story is riveting and gritty throughout and it ends with a jaw dropping cliffhanger that has me anxiously awaiting the next installment. Thanks to Emily A. Duncan for a read that was so entertaining it busted me out of my reading slump!
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.