Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan
Publication: April 2nd, 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
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.
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A BLOODY AND VILLAINOUS GOOD TIME. I had some parts that I did not like and some aspects but overall this was 4 & 1/2 stars. I am so thankful to Netgalley, the publishers, and the author for this ARC review. I am so excited to own the physical copy of this book and to continue the trilogy. Emily A. Duncan is definitely an author that will get better with every book. While some parts in the plot were confusing overall I liked this book so much. It starts off with a devout woman in her faith to the gods named Nadya being hunted by a blood mage prince of Tranavia named Serefin. While being hunted, Nadya along with a woman from her home named Anna meet Malachaisz, Rashid and Parijahan. Malachaisz is a Tranavian as well and Nadya immediately distrusts him but knows she has to go along with these three in order to save herself and her people. She vows to bring the gods back to Tranavia after she destroys the monarchy.
The beginning is a bit slow but not terribly slow. I except it because this is the first in a trilogy and the foundation of the overall story, not just the first book. But it does pick up and when it does the book becomes very exciting and a lot of action happens. The atmosphere of this story shows that Duncan really appreciates and did her research on Russian/Slavic/Polish culture. The setting is “hauntingly beautiful” and everything feels very vivid and rich. The world building is immersive and done with such care. I am so excited for book two.
Nadya is a very holier-than-thou person at the beginning but towards the end, though she still has that mentality she is beginning to question her way of thinking and her religion. I enjoyed how devout Nadya was to her faith and how much she believed in her faith. I did not like how she thought of non-believers and it’s something that is a character flaw. She has a lot of strength and I am excited to see more development in her powers and in her character.
Malachaisz is a monster. He is a wonderful villainous disaster that I WILL protect at all costs. I love how soft he is and how much he wants to change and save his homeland. The twist that we find out is one that surprised me and made me love him even more. He is such a king and I adore how much he is just trying to do right but he might not be doing the best. He is really complex and I just enjoyed him every time he was around.
Serefin is this drunk sarcastic prince that I think you are supposed to hate because he is the “enemy” and hunting Nadya but I ADORE him. I love him so much and how much of a walking mess he is. And the more you read the more you realize they all want the same thing lol they are a mess walking in circles and they are like OHHHHHH. He is very caring and misunderstood. He has a father who is mean and I would even say borderline verbally abusive and at times physically. He just wants to belong and is doing the best he can for his kingdom.
Writing– Ok so, this is where some of my issues in the book came about. Many times the character would be somewhere and the next sentence time has past or they are somewhere else. It was very confusing and simple things like a page break would help let the reader know there is a change in location or time. Also, the description of some things in the plot and characters were a bit confusing and left me saying, “what?” I think if things were more thoroughly explained it would really add to the story.
Romance– This I did like. Nadya and Malachaisz were a bloody (literally) wonderful enemies to lovers romance. I loved the back and forth between them and I loved how soft he was for such a disastrous monster boy. The slow burn is wickedly delicious and worth the wait. The only issue I had with it was the continuous mention of him being a monster boy lol. Also, Nadya’s holier-than-thou complex towards him was ugh but I don’t take points off this because I think the author did this on purpose. I am really excited to see her development from this and how she changes her perspective in thinking that just because someone worships differently doesn’t make them less than you.
“He was a liar and she wanted his truths.”
“You could be exactly what these countries need to stop their fighting… Or you could rip them apart at the seams.”
“Blood and blood and bone. Magic and monsters and tragic power.”
“You must make a choice, little bird. Do you continue on with your wings clipped or do you fly?”
“Don’t be a martyr. We have no use for yet another saint.”
“This act—the pressure of his lips against hers, and the heat that flooded her veins—this was heresy.”
“Some gods require blood.”
“I’m heartless, but not cruel.”
“Monsters are real, and I am their king.”
“We’re all monsters. Some of us just hide it better than others.”