One of our most anticipated releases for April is Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan. This is the start of a new YA fantasy series, Something Dark and Holy, and has been compared to the Grishatrilogy. When we saw it was available for request on Netgalley we tried our luck and we got approved! Wicked Saints will be published this Tuesday, so this review is right on time for you to decide whether you want to preorder it or not 😉
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.
Isabelle I really like this cover! At first glance it’s a pretty simple design but the longer you look at it the more details you see. I love the blood stain on the title and the city looks beautiful. It definitely tells you something about the story and I love the general vibe of the cover.
Candyce This cover seems really simple, but there’s so much more to it. I thought it looked really interesting, but after reading for awhile it started making more sense. I saw the finished copy of this book and fell in love. I definitely plan on adding this one on my shelf!
“You could be exactly what these countries need to stop their fighting. Or you could rip them apart at the seams.”
Isabelle We follow Nadya’s and Serefin’s POVs in this YA fantasy. Nadya is a cleric from Kalyazin (a Russian inspired country) and Serefin is the crown prince and a powerful blood mage from Tranavia (a Polish inspired country). Malachiasz is another main character but he doesn’t get his own POV, he’s pretty mysterious at the start of the novel but you’ll learn more about him along the way.
Kalyazin and Tranavia have been at war for decades, Kalyazin is very religious and believe the Tranavians are heretics. The Tranavians have denounced the gods and use blood magic. This war about religion is very much the main plot and raises very interesting questions. All characters think they are on the ‘right’ side of the war but slowly grow to see the other side of the war as well.
The story has been compared to the Grisha trilogy and I can definitely see the comparison, Emily even mentions and thanks Leigh Bardugo in her acknowledgments. I think part of the comparison lies in the fact that both fantasies have a country inspired by Russia, there is a Darkling type of person, and the overall feel of the story is somewhat similar. Although I do think Wicked Saints is a bit darker!
I think the story flows quite well, there is a good balance between action and character development and I just flew through the story. This was such an addictive read and I didn’t want to but the book down. I loved every twist we got and you can already tell there will be more revealed in the next installment. The world will probably be expanded in the next two books as well.
All in all, I really liked the plot, we got court-intrigue, a little competition element, some good fight scenes, great plot twists and good world building. I can’t wait for the sequel, especially after the epilogue!
Candyce Wicked Saints was a darker YA fantasy than most, but so interesting. We get to read from Nadya’s and Serefin’s POV. I love it when stories do this, especially when characters are so different like they are in this story! It makes this so interesting and I didn’t want to put this book down. I won’t talk too much about who and what we follow, because Isabelle just did!
Wicked Saints is the first book in the trilogy and it doesn’t disappoint. There is plenty of world building and character development and I really enjoyed this unique story. Nadya is the last cleric and stands behind the gods for magic. Serefin is the crown prince and doesn’t believe in gods. They use blood magic instead. I loved all the different aspects of magic use. Learning how it worked and their beliefs behind it made it very interesting.
Because of the two POVs we got to see how the characters’ beliefs developed during this story. Nadya starts to learn that her people aren’t always right and Serefin starts doubting everything his father is doing. While interacting with each other and others they meet along the way, a whole new world kind of opens up. I loved this aspect of the story.
Wicked Saints is definitely a book I would recommend. It has a good plot, great world building, interesting characters, lots of action and some very interesting plot twists. I’m rather sad I have to wait so long to read the sequel!
“Dazzle the monsters, Nadya. You’ve already charmed the worst of the lot; the rest should be easy.”
Isabelle Like I said, there are basically three main characters, Nadya, Serefin, and Malachiasz. But I do have to say it felt like Nadya was our main main character so to say. Parijahan, Rashid, Ostyia, and Kacper are our most important secondary characters.
Parijahan and Rashid are Akolan, a country bordering both Kalyazin and Tranavia and they travel with Nadya. I really enjoyed reading about them and getting to know more about their backstory. They are both wonderful and I hope to read a lot more about them. Ostyia and Kacper are part of Serefin’s guard basically and they are his best friends. I feel like we got to know them a little bit less but I did like them as well. Especially Ostyia was a great character. Hopefully we’ll learn more about them in the sequel.
Malachiasz is very mysterious and I don’t want to say to much about him. You will get to know him more and more but you have to discover him for yourself. I thought he was very intriguing and I enjoyed reading about him. It took me a while to decide whether I trusted him. He challenges Nadya’s beliefs and that was probably what I liked most about him.
Serefin is such a wonderful character, he’s bisexual and has a visual impairment. He is the crown prince and a very powerful blood mage. I thought the whole ‘blood mage’ thing was super interesting, I haven’t read that much about them yet so it was super cool to discover all that. Because our first POV is from Nadya, I immediately disliked Serefin but he definitely wiggled his way into my heart.
“It’s full of stars, Serefin.” Her voice was hushed, awed. “You’re surrounded by stars.”
And then we have Nadya, arguably the most important character of all. She’s a cleric and that’s something else I never read about. I didn’t even know it was a thing until this book, shame on me haha. Part of why I enjoyed this book so much was probably because I hadn’t read about clerics and blood mages before.
But back to Nadya, she really got on my nerves from time to time. She is super strict in her beliefs and the way she feels about the Tranavians, the heretics. And it fits the story super well and she slowly gets to see not everything is black and white. But at times I did get super frustrated by her attitude haha. I did love her development, she really starts to trust in herself and she comes in to her power. It’s going to be great reading more about this super powerful young lady!
Candyce I have to start off by saying that I love that the characters in Wicked Saints are far from perfect. There are some physical handicaps, but they all clearly have certain flaws and even realized that during the story. I love that so much more than a character who is already ‘perfect’ and doesn’t have a lot to learn.
We have Nadya, basically the most important character of this story. As the last cleric, she was basically hidden away and hasn’t seen much of the world. After being attacked her whole world turns upside down and she has to start dealing with things she never expected.
At first she’s really not open to any other beliefs, but she slowly opens up. Nadya thinks everything is black and white at first until she meets Malachiasz. When he starts pushing her to think differently, it kind of wakes her up. While she could be really frustrating at times, it was great to see how she opened up to different ideas and things weren’t so black and white. I can’t wait to see how she continues to grow and get even stronger.
Serefin wasn’t my favorite character in the beginning. In my eyes he seemed really arrogant and very full of himself. It wasn’t until he had to go home and face his family that I realized why he is the way he is. Serefin didn’t understand why he had to go home and get married when there was still a war to fight. He was definitely more reasonable in that sense than other royalty in a lot of fantasy books.
I loved reading about his blood magic and how it worked and how his family fit together. I don’t think we’ve seen even a fraction of what there is to come for this character. We also read about his friends Ostiya and Kacper. I thought they were both really interesting, but I felt like we didn’t see them very often. I hope that changes in the next two books, because I want to know more.
Malachiasz is a character I didn’t know if I should trust in the beginning and he did surprise me in many ways. I kind of wished he had his own POV, because I think that would’ve added just a little bit more to this amazing story. He’s definitely mysterious and even though he was taught to see things a certain way, it’s clear he’s created his own ideas. I don’t want to give away to much about him. You’ll have to read more for yourself.
Parijahan and Rashid are also two characters who travel with Nadya. I didn’t know if I should trust them either, but I really grew to love them. Both of them have interesting pasts and I hope we get more about them as well in the rest of this trilogy!
We both really recommend Wicked Saints and hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you’ve had the chance to read an early copy, we’d love to hear what you thought of this book!