Title: Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1)
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
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 (goodreads).
Wicked Saints was a powerful start to a series I can't wait to read more of.
Plot: Wicked Saints opened with the brutal murder of Nadya's friends and teachers at the monastery. As the last individual with the power of communicating with the gods and channeling their power, she ran off and found herself in the midst of people who had the power of being her enemy or friend.
Wicked Saints sold me with the second half of the novel. The first half was intriguing, albeit a bit slow. It was the second half where we learned about the corrupt king and our main character Nadya had to decide who was worthy of her trust. The plot in itself was fairly simple: two countries were at war with each other and girl had the power to change the course of it all. While the plot was simple, that didn't stop Duncan from throwing twist after twist and making you question everything you knew, up until the last page.
One thing to note was that the writing led readers to assume happenings instead of laying it out. This is something minor, but there were some scenes where I would have preferred over explanations because I wasn't confident I knew what Duncan was trying to hint.
Characters: Wicked Saints' middle name is 'complex characters'. Nadya was an intriguing character because she believed she was the last person in her country with the power of the gods. Being in enemy territory led her to question everything she knew about the gods and the power they granted her. Her frustration and confusion was evident, but I never doubted that she was trying to do the right thing. Serefin, the other POV was the High Prince who was at the forefront of the war. He had enough blood on his hands to mark him the enemy, but he also had the potential of being a better ruler than his father. While these were the two characters whose perspectives we followed, there were important secondary characters as well. I wish that some of the relationships were explored a bit more as it all seemed surface level. There weren't opportunities to explore the characters' separate pasts and how they had come to depend on their friends.
Worldbuilding: Duncan's inclusion of religion made the world of Wicked Saints fascinating. The two countries both had access to magic but from different sources which all stemmed from their differing religious beliefs. I especially enjoyed learning about the gods and what power they controlled, as well as the anecdotes from previous clerics who had been blessed by the gods. This book was definitely a dark fantasy and the atmosphere portrayed that perfectly. I'm excited to return to this world and see more of the world and the gods.
Short N Sweet: Wicked Saints is perfect for readers who prefer fantasy on the darker side, I just wish there was more time dedicated to the characters' relationships with each other.
Emily A. Duncan was born and raised in Ohio and works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons.
Labels: 4 stars, blog tour, book review, emily a. duncan, review, something dark and holy, wednesday books, Wicked Saints