Wicked Saints is Brutal, but I Couldn't Shake the Feeling it was Missing Something | Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

4:22 PM

Well, I finally finished Wicked Saints but honestly feel like I haven't. Which is unfortunate. Retract your claws, please! (I'm so sorry!!! This was the rare case in which I really didn't like a buzzed about book.)


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.

 Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (1.5) 

“Are we so different, Nadya?” He lifted his hand, fingers tipped with long claws, and pressed his thumb against her lips. “We both long for freedom. For power. For a choice. We both want to see our kingdoms survive.”

Uh-oh, get ready for an unpopular opinion: I did not like this book. Can you lower your pitchforks for a moment? Thanks! Okay, so, as we've figured out long ago--taste is subjective and what works for you, may not work for me, and what works for me, may bring you nothing but hellfire. That being said, Wicked Saints was definitely not for me. I think this was the rare case in which hype made my expectations soar so high, that Wicked Saints couldn't keep up.

It just fell flat in so many ways. While I did appreciate the chilled atmosphere and a little bit of the world-building (mostly, it left a lot to be desired and some question marks but maybe I missed something), and thought that Emily A. Duncan's prose was solidly compelling enough, there wasn't much else about Wicked Saints felt completely captivating for me.

In theory, there was so much to it that could have hit all the right notes for me and left me aching for a sequel and something warm to ease me down. Yet, here we are. I'm disappointed. There were moments when it felt like Wicked Saints was picking up after itself only to suddenly drop and wander off in a way that left me starring at the page, dizzily and blank. (Yes, that's a made up phrase, I don't know why I typed that.)

Normally, I'm all for some seriously dark and cold. I'm even moreso here for morally gray people and the acts they commit for the sake of a cause they've aligned themselves to. With all the buzz surrounding its darkness and whatnot, I expected to be engulfed in something that resembled the tones found in books like And I Darken or The Poppy War (I am not saying that these books in any way resemble each other's plotlines, cultures, genres or timelines, I am merely highlighting the varied levels of darkness in literature) but came out feeling vastly underwhelmed.

(There are things to Wicked Saints that are triggering and dark enough, so I *do* recommend looking into what trigger warnings are represented in the content. Obviously.)

Perhaps my hesitation in rating, and my indifference towards the novel itself, were mapped directly from the author's unsavory behavior on Twitter (which, I've only heard bits and pieces about) or I sabotaged my own focus on it by having read it so close to many other five star fantasies, but I do think that this is just a simple case of it not being my cup of tea.

It's not you it's me> doesn't really begin to cover it. By the time I reached the last quarter or so of Wicked Saints I felt like things might be picking up only to reach something of an emotional dead-end in reading it. I was relieved to have finished it at this point and am a bit undecided on whether or not I will pick up the sequel.

I will say that I did like Nadya, but other than that the characters each felt infuriatingly like mirror images of other characters in various forms of entertainment. Insert film and literary nods here. I sound like a jerk, but it's true: I felt like I could see through them and almost always knew what was coming before it did. And the character's blandness (which is strange because by all accounts they shouldn't have been bland!) really, really ruined the experience for me.

The novel itself had some redeeming factors to them (folklore and the like), but for the most part just didn't click with me. I feel as though that I'd have loved Wicked Saints ten years ago, but right now? It just isn't my time for it. Although the novel had a specific brand of brutality to it and in its more promising moments, the cruelty of Wicked Saints shone through, it was mostly a miss for me.

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