Audiobook Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
My rating: 4 of 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.

Warnings: self-harm (cutting for blood magic), parental abuse

A complex world with two warring kingdoms and magic based on belief and self, Wicked Saints brings us a dual perspective of a long battle between a religious kingdom and one that rejected religion, through Nadya, a Kalyazin cleric, and Serefin, a Tranavian prince respectively. The plotline is layered and begins with Nadya escaping from an attack by the blood mages led by Serefin, and having to find allies with three rebels, who want to kill the king of Tranavia and end the war. Seeing a common goal, she joins them, even though she is wary of Malachiaz, a blood mage who defected from the Tranavian forces, to go into the heart of the Tranavian kingdom. Meanwhile, Serefin, who has been fighting this tiring war for months on end, is being called back to the capital to participate in a tradition to select his bride, and he is worried that his father, the King, might take this opportunity to get rid of him, a mage who far surpasses his father.

The dual PoV brings an interesting angle to this, because their stories are essentially separate, even though they have a common enemy. While Serefin had been sent to hunt her down, he is asked to stand down to let the Vultures, a sect of the blood mages who are a bit more fanatical in their approach to the magic, take the lead. The politics of Tranavia are the centerstage on which this story plays out, as Serefin is trying to investigate what his father is up to. Meanwhile, Nadya is having a shaky alliance with Malachiaz, who makes her question her own belief in her magic system. She is also a rarity in that she can channel 20 gods as a cleric, all of whom can speak in her mind and lend her assistance in casting spells. The truth of blood magic, and the history of Tranavia make for a good addition later on in her story arc, as she gets cut off from the gods.

Overall, it was an intriguing, dark fantasy. The romance was a nice enemies-to-lovers, with all that angst thrown in for good measure. However, I must add that going by the hype, I sorta thought Malachiaz would be the ruthless and dangerous character, while, for the most part, he is ‘regular’ by this world’s standards. The ending did get a bit confusing, because it brings together everything at once, and I was gaping with – wait, what about that (insert plot obstacle that was previously a problem)? And there was also the fact that the audiobook was a miss for me – the narrator for Nadya uses a heavy accent that rendered some of Nadya’s dialogues, most of Malachiaz’s dialogues and several names nearly unintelligible in the start; it took me nearly half the book to get used to it and not slow down the book speed to let my brain catch up. Serefin’s narrator was marginally better with accents, but the performance was meh, with respect to the character’s complexity. I probably would have liked it more if I read it just in print.

View all my reviews

Buy links

The Book Depository | Wordery

Released on April 2, 2019

4 thoughts on “Audiobook Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

  1. Pingback: Diversity Spotlight Thursday #109 | YA on my Mind

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