Spoiler Free Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Title: Wicked Saints

Author: Emily A. Duncan

Pub. Date: April 2nd. 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Wednesday books

Pages: 385


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 

Credit: Orulyon-Sama @ Tumblr (Click on photo for link)

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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Review: Wrecked by Maria Padian

wreckedWrecked by Maria Padian

Published by: Algonquin Young Readers

Date of Publication: October 4th 2016

Genres: Contemporary

Pages: 368

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Trigger Warning: Rape

Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Everyone has heard a different version of what happened that night at MacCallum College. Haley was already in bed when her roommate, Jenny, arrived home shell-shocked from the wild Conundrum House party. Richard heard his housemate Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with. When Jenny formally accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard find themselves pushed onto opposite sides of the school’s investigation. But conflicting interests fueling conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible–especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict.


I’d like to thank Algonquin Young Readers for approving me to receive an eGalley of Wrecked by Maria Padian via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I requested this book from Netgalley after reading the synopsis & thinking…this sounds like an episode of Law & Order:SVU which I used to love watching! I figured that this book would have to be told from multiple points of views which is also a favorite format of mine. The book didn’t disappoint, the author handled the topic well & in doing so, she sheds some much needed light on the rape culture in colleges/universities. Another topic/theme playing in the background is sports related head injuries leading to concussions. We first get introduced to Haley who has suffered her 3rd sports related concussion on the field & is facing the very real possibility of not being able to continue playing soccer in college. Haley is sharing a college dorm room with Jenny who enters the room acting very strangely but not really saying much other than to grab some of her things. Haley & Jenny are polar opposites & don’t really know each other this being their freshmen year of college. Where Haley is more outgoing, athletic, and quick witted…Jenny is quiet, small framed, referred to as “mousy”, and always in the schools lab. Their schedules are set-up such that they barely cross paths. Jenny had accepted an invitation to attend a party with the request that she bring other freshmen females along with her. The events that took place at the party are basically given to us the readers as the story unfolds. Bits & pieces fall into place with every account that is given and just like in a game of old school Telephone, different versions start to convolute the truth.


We meet Richard & Carrie who have just broken up, Richard is a math tutor where Haley goes to work on her math sets & Carrie happens to be the person who works at the hotline set up for victims of sexual assault. Carrie is the person who takes Jenny’s call & quickly befriends Jenny. We also meet Jordan, the accused rapist who also happens to live in the same house as Richard. Haley & Richard find it easy to be in each others company and start seeing each other outside of math tutoring. None is the wiser to just how connected everyone in their lives are to the events that took place the night of the party. The chapters bounce back & forth between Haley & Richard as they tell their sides of the story. In between chapters there are pages that offer a different piece to the puzzle of what really happened that night. So in some pages you may read the thoughts Jenny was having as she is making her way around the party house while extremely intoxicated. These parts capture vividly what it feels like to be intoxicated at a level where you lose yourself in your surroundings. Some pages are the thoughts of other key players who witnessed Jenny stumbling around but who also never come forward. When the university begins it’s investigation, it is days after the rape took place & Jenny has forgone the option of reporting it to the police. In doing so, the university now carries a formal investigation away from the public and the possible outcomes are: expulsion for the accused OR if no evidence or witnesses can be found, a “no sanction” can be ruled & the accused would be permitted to remain in the school.


The way this book was written hooked me in & kept me turning the pages. I really wanted to get to those in between pages that offered a little bit of insight as to what happened the night of the rape but it was never enough. I realized that this was purposefully done by the author to give an accurate portrayal of what happens when a college student loses consciousness due to intoxication & is taken advantage of. The victim would NOT be able to recount details with absolute certainty during the time they lost conciousness (scary thought). I often found myself trying to decipher what was fact from fiction. I could NOT stop myself from thinking about the real life Broch Turner case & how that played out. I felt a range of emotions, confusion, frustration, and helplessness for Jenny. Just like Jenny, I was left feeling a whole lot of anger for many different reasons. Some ranging from where were the “friends” she came with to the party? why weren’t they trying their hardest to look for her? why is everyone keeping quiet? why is everyone more worried about the fact that they were drinking? I mean the questions in my head just kept me turning the pages faster hoping for closure. Maria Padian handled this sensitive topic really well & I honestly believe that this story should be read. Wrecked is a book that sheds light on a prevalent issue in our current day & the underwhelming attention placed on the rape culture within our colleges & universities. I would absolutely recommend this book if you’re looking for a very real take on this sensitive topic.