Book Review

Wicked Saints

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan sounded like such an interesting premise, but it took me a while to figure out what I thought about the book.

TRIGGER WARNING: self-harm

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A girl named Nadya, who hears the whispers of the gods inside her head.

A prince surrounded by desperate suitors and deadly assassins.

A monster hidden behind pale, tortured eyes — and a smile that cuts like a knife.

The paths of these three characters become entwined during a centuries-long war filled with sinners and saints, magic and mystery, and a star-crossed romance that threatens to tip the scales between dark and light … forever.

This book reminded me of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo in a way, but the story set itself apart. The story took place in an Eastern European inspired world, a girl who has unique magic that may be the only thing to save the world as she knows it, and there was a darkly alluring villain (sounds familiar).

“Using her power was inevitable, and the minute she did, people would know Kalyazin had clerics again after a thirty-year absence.”

In this book, Kalyazi magic is tied to religious beliefs, while Travanian magic relies on blood and pages in a spell book. The magic system is fascinating, and unique. Nadya’s power is granted directly from the gods:

“Magic flooded through her veins, a rush of power that came with chiming chords of holy speech — a language she only knew when the gods granted it.”

None of the characters are exactly what they appeared to be. They each change drastically over the course of the book. There’s political maneuvering, war, assassins, and plenty of action throughout the book. Unlike S&B, Nadya winds up being reduced to a ball of hormones. I was really disappointed by this unfortunate turn — she started out as an interesting character and devolved into a love interest, regardless of her powers and her role in the story. Two of the main characters struggle with morality, and there’s something very appealing about characters who exist in the morally gray areas.

I was especially frustrated by the incredible number of foreign words that weren’t defined at all. It made the story confusing to follow at times, since I didn’t always know what was being said.

Overall, I found the book interesting and frustrating in equal measures. The story left off on a pretty major cliffhanger, but I had already decided to read the next book.

Fingers crossed for the next one!

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 9

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