Release Date: April 2, 2019
Series: Something Dark and Holy, Book #1
Publisher: Wednesday Books
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.
“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
I was provided a copy of this book to review as a part of this blog tour. Thank you to Wednesday Books for approaching me about this tour and for providing me a copy to review. This in no way affected my opinion.
Trigger Warning: Torture, Self Harm
It is not very often that I book is truly deserving of its hype.
This book was my most anticipated read of 2019, as I am sure it was for many of you. So when I was offered to read it early I WAS SO DELIGHTED!
This book was all that I had hoped for. I have developed a deep appreciation for Slavic inspired stories which was a big draw for me. Well besides the fact that it is heavily Grisha-esqe, that is if everyone had the mind of The Darkling.
The story begins in the most unlikely of places. Nayda and her friend, Kostya, peeling potatoes as punishment for their hijinx. But the fun of peeling potatoes ends quickly when the Tranavians show up on their doorstep and chaos ensues. Nayda must flee monastery before she is captured by the Tranavians. Why would the Tranavians want to capture a young girl you ask? Well, when your enemy has a cleric that can speak with all the Gods and therefore be quiet powerful, you find a way to make sure that she isn’t really a problem for you.
This is where Serefin Meleski, Prince of Tranavia and the most powerful Blood Mage comes in. He is the one who storms the monastery and is viewed as the main enemy throughout the book. Though it turns out in the end that he actually isn’t all that bad.
Then there is Malachiasz Czechowicz. (Don’t worry there is a pronunciation guide below!) Malachiasz is The Darkling of this story, down to the ultra-powerful bad boy lover. Now if you read my review of Shadow and Bone, you will know that I kind of despise The Darkling. I went into this book knowing that Malachiasz was the main love interest and that he had Darkling tendencies so I was expecting a cruel character that I was going to have issues with. Malachiasz, though he was not my favorite character, I did enjoy his mannerisms and effect on the plot. There is a scene towards the end of the book where Malachiasz shows Nadya his self-harm scars. They are from the past and there is no talk of them directly or recently but it is something that I do want to put out there just so readers who are triggered by this are informed of it.
The world of Wicked Saints is heavily inspired by Slavic cultures. This is most evident through the names which I had a fun time pronouncing when I was reading the book. I have a love/hate relationship with the way the information about the world was written into the story. On the one hand, it was more natural as the characters weren’t stopping in the middle of the scene to talk in detail about a general aspect of their world. So the other hand is that as the reader you had to wait to get your questions answered if answered at all. Though there are more books in this series so I am hoping that Duncan will be able to expand the world more.
I do love all the aspects of this book. The characters were human. The world is interesting. But the writing is where it is at for me. Duncan picks you up with the story but then she settles down. The whole middle portion of the book, where it is basically a Selection type event going on was completely unexpected. I didn’t hate it per se but I wasn’t counting on a competition for the Prince’s hand in marriage to be in the middle of such a dark story. But don’t worry, the ending is so, so dark and I was also completely unprepared for it in the best way possible.
That being said, I am definitely looking forward to re-reading Wicked Saints and reading the sequel when it is available.
You can check out an excerpt of the book here!
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.
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