Author: Emily A. Duncan
Publisher/Imprint: Wednesday Books
Edition: Hardcover, 385 Pages
Publication Date: April 02, 2019
A Spine that Shines? Fairly Well
“Dazzle the monsters, Nadya. You’ve already charmed the worst of the lot; the rest should be easy.”Malachiasz, Wicked Saints
Wow. There is so much blood in this book! That was one of the first thoughts I had after finishing Wicked Saints today. You’ll see what I mean if you read it for yourself. But it includes things like blood mages cutting themselves to use their powers, etc. Sometimes, it did make me feel a little uncomfortable, but other readers may not mind as much.
The opening chapter definitely sucked me in! The whole first part of the book when Nadya is on the run was quite engaging. But the book loses a bit of momentum later on, and it took me longer to get through the middle chunk of the book.
I love books that draw upon mythology/folklore influences, so I thought it was cool that this book is inspired by Russian and Polish folklore.
I enjoyed the snippets of information about the saints provided at the beginning each chapter. They added a touch of authenticity to the mythology.
Overall, I wish there had been more character backstory. I didn’t really connect with them all as much as I’d wanted to. Here is a brief overview of some of the characters:
- Nadya is a Kalyazi cleric who has been cooped up in a monastery for most of her life. Kalyazin, her country, is at war with the country of Tranavia. She is the one person who can converse with the gods and request power from them. I enjoyed Nadya’s POV chapters more than I enjoyed Serefin’s; I think it took longer for Serefin’s plot arc to develop. Some aspects of Nadya’s powers are a tad confusing, but the magic in her world can do interesting things.
- Malachiasz seems to be the most interesting character to me. He is someone important in Tranavian society, but also a certain kind of “monster.” Although Nadya first considers him an enemy, she must learn to trust him in order to accomplish her goals. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how I feel about the romance between them. I wasn’t rooting super hard for them, but I did find their relationship interesting since they are enemies. Personally, I think more chapters from Malachiasz’s POV would have added a lot to this book. I really wanted to know more about Malachiasz’s past and history.
- Serefin is one of the most powerful blood mages in Tranavia, and he also happens to be the prince of Tranavia. He is called home from the war in order to attend an event in which female blood mages of the nobility compete to become queen (similar to the competition in Red Queen). He undergoes an interesting transformation near the end of the book.
Here are some other reasons why I didn’t give Wicked Saints 5 stars:
The more abstract, “philosophical” scenes threw me off a bit – specifically chapters 25 and 31. I’m the type of reader who usually needs to understand what’s actually physically happening in the concrete world. I felt that these two particular chapters kind of gloss over what actually happens to the characters, and I was a bit confused. (I won’t say anything more about this due to spoilers.)
Aside from the general concept that Vultures somehow undergo transformation there, we don’t know what actually happens in the salt mines. I’m hoping for a scene down there in the sequel.
Also, what happened to Nadya’s friend Konstantine? Other than what happens in the first few chapters, I have no idea what happened to him. (Nadya thinks he’s dead, but are we ever given actual confirmation of this?)
Wicked Saints is overall an entertaining story. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would, but I would still recommend to other readers if you think it would be your cup of tea 🙂 Have you read it yet? What did you think?
*Content warnings: Self-harm (blood mages repeatedly cut themselves to access their powers), torture, some intimate kissing (no actual sex, but close), and one scene in which a father slaps his son*