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.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley. I was initially drawn to this book by the title. The juxtaposition of “wicked” and “saint” is just a tantalizing concept that I could not pass up. I was especially lucky in this case, as the concept of the plot (not just a good title) also peaked my interest, as politics, magic and religion collided.
The plot of this book really takes off from the first few pages. Usually in Young Adult Fantasy novels, you have about a chapter of getting to know the character, her friends, her life, and then the action starts up at the end. Instead, we’re thrown into the chaos of the situation just as the main character, Nadya is. And things do not slow down from there. The book is a constant roller coast of suspicion, mystery, magic and just a tinge of romance. It was nearly impossible for me to put this book down as I was constantly left on edge from the events that had just happened. I was really impressed by the intricacies of the story and could not predict what was going to happen next.
The setting of the book was equally well done. The world this book takes place in is entirely unique. Nadya’s powers of a cleric are original and interesting to learn about, and the system of blood magic that others use in the book was equally disturbing and intriguing. I appreciated the presence of the gods in the book, especially when so many stories just elude to their existence, and the religion of this world plays a pivotal role in the story from beginning to end. The author also does a great job with her description of the locations the characters are in. Everything felt visceral and real to me as I read through the scenes.
As a character, Nadya was a bit difficult to understand in the opening chapters. Part of this is due to the fast -paced nature of the book. Since we only ever know her in crisis, it’s hard to know who she really is. The other issue is that’s going through a large change in her beliefs and world-outlook during these beginning chapters too. By about 40% I had a good sense for who she was and what her goal for the story was, but I think that may have been too far in for many. Regardless, I enjoyed having her a narrator and thought she and her relationships with other characters developed well over the coarse of the story.
Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy. The plot was complex and exciting from start to finish. I especially loved the setting of the book, with it’s intricate politics, magic systems and religion. I enjoyed Nadya as a narrator and protagonist, but it did take me a long time to get to know her. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next book in the Something Dark and Holy trilogy.