Title: Wicked Saints
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Pub. Date: April 2nd. 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Wednesday books
This may just speak to the dark corners of my soul but once I started reading this book on a flight to New Orleans, there was no other place I’d rather be. Between the pages of this dark gothic fantasy a war is being waged between Kalyazin & Tranavia. Kalyazin, a land of people who still believe in the Gods that ruled them. Gods who have partially retreated their presence but have chosen Clerics to use as messengers and vessels for their power. The war however has pretty much wiped out almost all Clerics & only one really powerful remains hidden in a Monastery to be protected at all costs. The one who is believed to be the end to this war against Tranavia. This is a land of people who have turned their backs on the Gods in favor of free will. Referred to as heretics, Tranavia set out to never to be controlled or be at the mercy of Gods whims. They chose instead to tap into blood magic and cast powerful spells. They’ve eradicated any and all signs of the Gods & made it so that the Gods cannot access Tranavia. We get introduced to 3 pivotal characters who all have a role to play in this war. Their lives somehow interconnected…
“You could be exactly what these countries need to stop their fighting. Or you could rip them apart at the seams.”
Content Warning: War themes, Violence/gore, parental abuse, Self-harm (cutting as part of the magic system), torture, alcohol abuse
Nadya Lapteva Our MC is a powerful Cleric chosen by the Gods. She stands out among the few that are left due to her ability to communicate and draw power from all of the Gods. This alone made this character a total bad a** to me! I LOVED how she learned the personalities of all of the Gods she called upon. Which ones to approach with more caution than others. Nadya is dutiful & devout, she takes her role in this war very seriously. My only gripe with Nadya was that she’s got a whole lot of power and wisdom bestowed upon her & yet her judgment is severely clouded in matters of the heart. I don’t just mean with regards to the love interest but also when it comes to the Gods she serves without question. I hope to see some maturity from this character in the follow-up, especially after the way things left off.
Malachiasz Czechowicz a VERY powerful Blood Mage who from the very beginning is hard to read. It’s hard to go into this character without spoiler so I’ll leave it as vague as he was upon first meeting him 😉
Serefin Meleski The crown Prince sent to the front lines as a blood general. Serefin is one of my favorite characters in this story. It couldn’t have been easy being born a more powerful Blood Mage than your father & in turn have him hate you for it. Serafin knows he has a target on his back placed there by his own father. Serefin wants to end the war but he isn’t without his faults.
Although the story is centered around the three MC’s we do get some awesome side characters from both the Kalyazin & Tranavia sides. There are no clear cut good/bad characters. Everyone is fighting for what they believe to be right in order to end this war. I really enjoyed the relationships between all of the side characters as well as seeing the diverse representation. We get POC characters as well as a sexually diverse cast on the page. One of our side characters who plays sort of a right hand role to the Crown prince is disabled. My only hope is to see more of these characters brought to the forefront in the follow-up.
Wicked Saints is just the book I was looking for to get me back in the mood for YA Fantasy. It checked off so many of the things I believe make for a good story. I felt immediately invested in the characters and their relationships with one another. I questioned Nadya’s choices in general but can see this was necessary as a foundation to who she will become. Many have compared Malachiasz to the Darkling from the Grishaverse whom I wasn’t really sold on. Malachiasz however…is 50 shades of messed up! it doesn’t get more darker than this guy right here. Complex characters, interesting blend of religion in a fantastical setting, complete with a magic system I was genuinely intrigued by…This was a 5 star read by the time I’d read the last page & a pre-order for the follow-up is definitely in the future.
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