Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Something Dark & Holy #1
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. Their paths are 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.
Wicked Saints was a buddy read with my wife, Shannon. Somehow, she ended up with two copies of this book, so we both read them at pretty much the same time. Shannon has since received an e-arc from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the sequel, Ruthless Gods, which she posted a review for earlier today.
This was Emily A. Duncan’s first book, and to be brutally honest, it started off reading like one. I absolutely couldn’t stand the foreign names that we difficult to pronounce even in my head (like why could Tranavia have not simply been Travania? — which would have made much more sense from a reader’s perspective). It took me a long time to get into this book (nearly halfway-through), but once it started getting good, it got good quick. The magic started flowing, and it turned out to be a really solid read.
The political intrigue was all there, the schemes and plots and twists and turns were all on-point. I found the premise of this book to be very unique in the sense of the different types of magic that were used — a combination of blood magic, holy magic, elemental magic, and self-discovery, which I found to be quite refreshing.
I found myself infatuated with the somewhat archetypal idea of The Vultures — a cult-like secret society, who practice dark magic and have a separate kingdom alongside the secular king and act as his secular advisors. Very interesting stuff, indeed.
The characters are all very unique, and the main characters are shown from multiple perspectives, which adds a whole additional layer of realism to them, allowing the reader to put themselves in the shoes of certain characters and actually empathizing with them and feeling their faults and uncertainties. I feel like the multiple perspectives played a huge role in this book having the impact that it did, and it really allows the reader to be sucked into this world and feel what each character feels and to watch the story unfold from multiple points of view.
Even though it started out kind of slow, I would actually recommend this book to people who enjoy fantasy, magic, and blood…lots and lots of blood. Shannon said the sequel fell a bit short, but we have discovered over the years that we often have differing perspectives and opinions, especially when it comes to books. We both really enjoyed Wicked Saints, so even though Ruthless Gods may not have been her cup of tea, I am absolutely going to be reading that one, because who knows — I may love it even more than this book. This book gets about a 3.5, rounded up to 4 stars.
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