WICKED SAINTS (Something Dark and Holy #1)
Written by Emily A Duncan
Published by Wednesday Books, April 2, 2019
My star rating – 5 stars
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. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy. Find it on Goodreads
I fully accredit this book for ridding myself of an oncoming book slump! I’ve really been struggling to connect with books lately. I want to read but, as soon as I start, I struggle to get into it. This book doesn’t give you a choice! It starts off with an action packed bang that propels you forward at lightning speed! Seriously, this was one of the best first chapters I’ve read in a long time! It wastes no time with introductions – it just throws you into magic, friendships, alliances, and bloody fighting – good times! It felt a little like I skipped over the first 5 chapters in the book and got straight into the good stuff! It was an epic way to start a book! You learn as you go, and aren’t confused as to who’s who and what’s really going on.
This book also had a very unique magic system. Young Nadya doesn’t necessarily have magic. But what she does have is a prayer bead necklace with carvings in each bead that connects to a god/goddess. When she touches the bead she can actually speak to that God/Goddess and request their help in the form of a spell. Nadya ends up being a conduit of sorts for the powers and wields it as she chooses. This type of power is rare, and could be used to tilt the war to one side or another. She was hidden for many years so she wouldn’t be used as a weapon, and she could prepare herself for what was to come. But the war had other plans (as wars often do). There’s also blood magic where the person carries a spell book. On each page is a spell written on them and, as soon as blood is added, it activates the spell……… it’s so interesting!!!
Along with magic we have political intrigue. The Prince is the person who was sent to find Nadya but, as we get to know him, we realize he isn’t the monster he first seemed. He has a very troubled relationship with the king. The king himself is an interesting man who we quickly realize is acting differently and may be getting his strings pulled from other directions. And then there’s the “Vultures. These people are a cult of sorts. They’re a trained group of people who seemed to have undergone a transformation and are now the most feared and powerful group of people. They themselves have their own hierarchy. On top of all that we have a seer who seems to be able to foretell the future and speaks of prophesies.
The characters were great! Nadya’s character arc was amazing to follow. She went from being sheltered and feeling powerful, to being on her own and navigating her powers. But as her powers changed, she found herself questioning everything she’s ever known. Hands down though…. the prince was EVERYTHING!!! He was so headstrong and competent, even though his father was a worthless man who had no confidence in his son. He was also a total drunk smart ass…… he’s the perfect character for me!
The pacing was steady and like a rollercoaster!! Like I said about the first chapter, it feels like the first 5 chapters happened and were never included in the book. I thought that this would be disorienting – just being trust into the story and action without any prior knowledge. It just worked! And right after that moment we are brought forward on this journey and are never let alone to sit and collect our thoughts. Something is always happening and we’re quickly moved along in the story.
One flaw with this book though (at least for me) – the names! It was SO distracting! I really do hope that this book comes with a pronunciation guide for the names of people and places. I spent a lot of time trying to sound it out but finally gave up and just invented my own short form for everything. I feel that they were a little too confusing and it tripped up my reading rhythm. Keep in mind that some will love this, but it was difficult for me.
Pronunciations aside, this book was amazing! It had literally every single magical element that I enjoy wrapped up all into one book! The writing was great, and the non stop action had me on the edge of my seat! I NEED the next book NOW!
Want to know what I’m talking about with that explosive first chapter?? CLICK HERE TO READ AN EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT!
Thank you so much to Raincoast Books and Wednesday Books for the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and are uninfluenced.
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Until next time, happy reading!