Something Dark and Holy; #1: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

“Shadow and Bone meets Red Queen…plus a little bit of Avatar The Last Airbender sprinkled in *ahem, Soka*.”

Review by Rayleigh Setser

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. 

Shadow and Bone meets Red a little bit of Avatar The Last Airbender sprinkled in *ahem, Soka*.

Wicked Saints is one of the books that I've had on my shelves for a couple of years (at least) and I have to say that it's not one that I would've purchased for myself. It came in a book box subscription with some incredible book goodies (and a cloth map that is epic!) and though it looked interesting, I knew that it was going to be a pretty dark read so I put off reading it. That being said, once I started it, I couldn't put it down!

Wicked Saints has a LOT in common with Shadow and Bone. So much so, that I can recommend that if you liked Shadow and Bone, there is a high probability that you may like Wicked Saints. The biggest difference is that it is much darker than Shadow and Bone with its use of blood magic and how other characters try to extract that magic from others. But it is also unique enough that I thought I knew what was happening, but even up to the epilogue, I didn't know who to trust. The story is very skillfully written to mask the twists and turns, and more than once I smacked my own forehead and muttered "duh!"

The characters were good. Nadya challenged her beliefs and struggled to understand the truth, all the while doing her best to mask her questions and appear to remain sure of her decisions so as to not become vulnerable. I felt for her; her entire world was upturned and she had to pull every string to find the one solid truth. I was just as confused as she was for most of the book, and I think her decisions reflected that internal turmoil very well. I don't know that I can talk about Serefin and Malachiasz without mentioning spoilers, so I'll just suffice it to say that one left me heartbroken and the other...also left me heartbroken. This is most definitely not a "happy ending". Resolved, yes, but there is still a very long way to go before these characters get a chance at happiness.

The audiobook is expertly narrated! I'm very glad that I started the book listening to the audio so I knew how to pronounce their names, but I finished the book reading my copy because I didn't know how to spell their names. So I listened to half and read half, and both were great experiences!

I give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it with caution to fans of Shadow and Bone and the Red Queen series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content Ratings:

Action & Gore:

Rating: 8 out of 10.
8. Intense gore (action scenes take a morbid turn here with abnormal deaths that prolonged and detailed; torture etc.)

Romance & Spice:

Rating: 3 out of 10.
3. Moderate content (heavier kissing, but no grabby hands).

Cursing & Vulgarity:

Rating: 3 out of 10.
3. Infrequent mild cursing (less than 10 "h*lls" etc.)

Other Trigger Warnings:

Trigger warnings: There is very mild cursing and sexual content is limited to only a few kissing scenes (they’re not detailed). Gore will be the highest caution, with blood used in some way on almost every page. Characters cut themselves to use magic, but they heal and do not scar; however, one character wants a “reminder” of what he is so he cuts himself without the magic and so has scars.

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