Ruthless Gods: A Bloody, Vicious Sequel

3/5 Stars

Author: Emily A. Duncan

Publisher/Imprint: Wednesday Books

Edition: Paperback ARC, 534 Pages

Hardcover Publication Date: April 07, 2020

A Spine that Shines? Partially


*This review is based on a paperback ARC received from the publisher. All quotes used in this review come from the uncorrected proof. These are my honest opinions. Thank you.*

Book Synopsis

Darkness never works alone…

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

In her dramatic follow-up to
Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless.

Image showing Wicked Saints and Ruthless Gods OwlCrate editions.
Wicked Saints and Ruthless Gods OwlCrate editions.

Book Review

‘The creeping shadows slither from the dark; retribution falls from the sky,’ she murmured.

Emily A. Duncan, Ruthless Gods

Initial Thoughts

Good afternoon, bookworms! How are you all holding up? I hope you’re all doing well despite these strange circumstances keeping us all at home. I managed to finish reading Ruthless Gods (sequel to Wicked Saints) yesterday, so here is my book review! I had some mixed feelings about this book. Overall, I enjoyed the first book better. Unfortunately, this sequel felt a bit long and took a while to get moving.

Let’s begin with some positive points:

  • There are some great fight scenes to read!
  • You will also find a dark, magical forest in this book! It is quite sinister and tries to destroy people who venture into it.
  • I definitely enjoyed learning more about the mythology in this sequel. As in the first book, the author continues with snippets of mythology/folklore excerpts at the beginning of each chapter.
  • I thought it was good to give us some page time inside the salt mines; that was something missing from book one that I was hoping for in this book.
  • I was also glad that the author explained more about what happened to a specific character from book one whom I had wondered about.
  • There are a few interesting twists throughout the book.
  • If you’re looking for a bloody, vicious sequel, this book is definitely that!

‘The only thing the gods ever leave behind is heartbreak.’

Emily A. Duncan, Ruthless Gods

Characters & Romance

  • Ruthless Gods OwlCrate edition.
    Ruthless Gods OwlCrate edition.
    Of course, we have the cleric Nadya. She has somehow lost her connection with her gods and is desperate to get that connection back. There seems to be a darker power growing inside of her that she doesn’t know what to do with. At the same time, she must deal with her feelings for Malachiasz.
  • Malachiasz is dealing with some huge issues of his own. His order of Vultures is divided, and he struggles with the part of himself that has become a monster with unspeakable powers. Can Nadya save him, or is he too far gone?
  • I liked the Reylo vibes that I sort of got from Nadya and Melachiasz’s relationship. (But I do question how you can kiss someone with iron teeth? Ouch?)
  • I wanted more of Malachiasz’s POV! We hardly get any scenes from his perspective.
  • Serefin’s character arc with the voice inside his head becomes interesting and complicated. The old ‘gods’ seem to have some sinister plan up their sleeves, involving him in their mess. Meanwhile, his control over his kingdom is threatened by his court nobles.

‘Things are waking up. Old things, dark things. The old ones who have slept for so very very long.’

Emily A. Duncan, Ruthless Gods

Final Thoughts

Here are a few more things to point out about this book:

A lot of this book is internal/emotional struggles and political tension. If you like that type of focus, then great! I do like some of that, but sometimes it became repetitive in this novel. Personally, I prefer a good balance between internal struggles and outward action. The characters in Ruthless Gods often contemplate their own miseries. They often don’t know what to do to fix their issues, and they repeatedly gripe about their problems.

I’ve also noticed that the author has a tendency to skip over important scenes. There are a few dramatic moments in the book that are just cut off, leaving the reader hanging. In one scene, a character literally passes out during the fight, creating a huge gap in the story. I would have preferred these scenes didn’t cut out, but rather showed the reader what actually occurs.

Sometimes, the writing style has a way of sounding cool while actually remaining a bit too vague. The writing style also becomes a bit repetitive when it repeats several phrases over and over throughout the novel.

It also doesn’t make complete sense to me that Serefin teams up with someone who just tried to kill him. He seems to get over the attempt too quickly.

It takes 100 pages or so for the plot to really get going. Overall, this sequel felt a bit long. I don’t think it required 500+ pages. It could have been shorter, and I even wonder whether this series could have been a duology rather than a trilogy. Hence, my 3-star rating. Of course, I understand that each novel is a product of an author’s hard work and effort, but I do feel it is important to present my honest opinions in books reviews. Happy reading 🙂

*Content Warnings: Lots of gore, self-harm, blood, gouging; at one point, someone performs a bloody altar ritual on a living human being; a few f-words and s-words scattered throughout; some passionate kissing.*

Copyright © 2020 by Spines that Shine (Caitlin Shaffer)

Up Next on My TBR: Aurora Burning (ARC)


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4 thoughts on “Ruthless Gods: A Bloody, Vicious Sequel”

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