Wicked Saints

Wicked Saints

Book - 2019 | First edition.
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Nadya, 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. In a centuries-long war, their paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints. Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war. But a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.
Publisher: New York : Wednesday Books, 2019.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781250195661
1250195667
Branch Call Number: TEEN DUN
Characteristics: 385 pages :,map ;,25 cm

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forbesrachel Jun 30, 2019

Is a saint truly saintly? Is a monster only monstrous? For Nadya, a devote follower of the Kalyazin gods, and the hope of her people, this used to be an easy question to answer. But when her home is destroyed, and she decides to help one of those monsters kill the rival nation's king, doubt spreads, especially as her feelings for this young tormented man develop. Counter to this, is the perspective of Serefin, a prince, and deadly magic user of said nation, who begins to feel dejected about the never ending war, and the suffering of his people. When he returns home, matters are even worse than he suspected though, for his own father, and the ravenous Vultures have their own schemes in mind. Quick thinking, cooperation, and a little bit of magic are all that stands in the way. Duncan has created a solid premise, with some well-founded magic systems. Certain plot points do come out of left field, and the rapid progress of the plot, do make some of the character developments unearned though. Whereas many authors would spend time on the "tournament", this one gives only one duel, before moving along. Because of this Nadya goes from not grasping her magic in one moment, to feeling perfectly in control in the next. While her character arc, and that of some of the others was interesting, these additional steps were missed. Then, there was the love interest. Even it was a very predictable tale and didn't reflect well on the female lead, it actually leaves open some doors for the next volume; now that Nadya knows what an unhealthy relationship is like, there is the chance for a better one with another. There are also plenty of mysteries still unsolved, and with this foundation, there is hope that the promise of the first will still be delivered upon.

PimaLib_ChristineR May 01, 2019

TL:DR: The book is okay but not great. May be worth it to see if the next installment improves.

I wanted to love this book, and there were parts of it I did. I love the idea behind it. The magic system is interesting, if not completely explored. The three main characters are unique and well-developed and the plot and pacing are perfect. But with all that, there were some things that were just "off" about the novel. Like it could have used a couple of more trips to the editing block.

Some were small things, easier to overlook, like the moment, out of nowhere that Nadya "felt a confidence she had never really known before." What? Why? Or the flawed logic Serefin uses when riling his father. He tells himself, "if he was just being paranoid, his father would ignore his snark as he usually did." Um, don't you think his father could have faked it? Pelageya is supposed to be "mad" but she doesn't seem too far out there and her prophecies seem to make sense. In fact, she is extremely straightforward, especially the second time they meet.

But there are larger problems. Nadya spends an inordinate amount of time angsting over Malachiasz, the defector from the Tranavian side, who seems, "off-putting" but of course, she just can't resist him. Nadya never comes to term with the changes in her understanding of her magic. Nadya hates using her magic without "contact from the gods." But if she has magic without the gods, how can her magic be related to her religion? Why does she need to make way for them in a country that doesn't want them? Too much time was dedicated to creating an unnecessary love interest instead of answering the big questions. And twice Nadya has to use, what she considers "heretical" blood magic. Both times she gives herself a nearly identical speech about how she wouldn't do it if there were any other way. Okay, we get it. And because of that, it is difficult to connect with any of these characters.

Regardless, the story held enough interest that I'll be picking up the next in the series. Duncan sets us up with this image from the evil Black Vulture, or whatever controls him: "he needed four things: one that was lost, one that was held in a different song's grasp, one that had stopped listening to songs years ago, and one who was untouchable because they were too close to being a song themselves." So there's that.

Duncan shows promise with this novel and I hope her editing team steps up on the next go around.

DCLteens Apr 25, 2019

A Must-Read YA pick. In this stunning Joan of Arc-inspired debut, a peasant girl who can speak to the gods must find a way to work with a deadly adversary to turn the tide of war and assassinate the mad king.

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