Title: Wicked Saints
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Something Dark and Holy #1
Date of Publication: April 2, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
The countries of Tranavia and Kalyazi have been at war for over a century. Kalyazi is the land of the divine, and Tranavia is the land of heretics. Nadya is a cleric, one who has been hidden away in a monastery for her entire life because of her ability to commune with and channel the power of the gods. But when Tranavians invade the monastery, killing everyone with their heretical blood magic, Nadya learns that her safe haven is no more. She must run if she’s to survive. But she encounters some strangers in her travels, and they show her that she can’t run forever. She will have to fight if she wants to end the war and save her land from ruin.
Wicked Saints is a non-stop thrill ride right from the very first pages. We are barely introduced to the main character, Nadya, before a battle erupts at the monastery she’s called home for her entire life.
The novel also follows Serefin, the High Prince of Tranavia, who is a blood mage and a warrior. While Nadya believes him to be a ruthless killer, he is revealed to be much more complicated than that.
This novel has incessant action, which makes the worldbuilding even more impressive. Duncan weaves the intricate details of how the different types of magic work into the story just as the reader needs to know it. It never feels like an information dump. The plot plunges onwards far too quickly for me to feel like I was being bombarded with too much information.
Both types of magic–the power of the gods and the blood mages–are unique and fascinatingly executed. Blood mages carry a book of spells, ripping out pages and activating them with their own blood. As a cleric, Nadya calls upon the favour of the gods, hoping that they will assist her when she needs their help the most.
There is a fascinating recurring theme of faith throughout the novel, as Nadya grapples with her beliefs and what she’s coming to learn of the world she lives in.
Nadya is a relatable, loveable main character. She wants to help those she cares about, she wants to protect her country, and she wants revenge against the mad king of Tranavia for all that she has lost. Upon escaping the monastery, she meets several strangers, including a Tranavian. She wants to hate him just for what he is, but there’s something undeniably alluring about him. I won’t reveal more in fear of spoiling any twists, but their burgeoning relationship is a highlight of this book. It isn’t overdone, by far it isn’t the focus of the story, but it is a compelling romance that kept me turning the pages.
Just like the advertisements say: This book is recommended to anyone looking for a blood-drenched young adult, high fantasy fairy tale. It’s not for the faint of heart, or for those who think that they can just put this book down and pick it up again a few days later. Nope, this is a consume-in-one-bite type of novel.
*Thank you to Wednesday Books and OLA Super Conference for the ARC for review*
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