Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
First of all, this book initially caught my eye because of the beautiful cover, and actually caught my mother’s eye in the store because she was the one who had said to me “oooh this looks good” and handed it to me, which doesn’t happen often, as my mother couldn’t care any less about books.
I was really excited for it, as it seemed super intriguing and unlike anything I had read before, for the most part. But unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped that I would.
This book did really read like a debut, starting off very slowly until Nadya arrived at the palace, probably about 180 pages in, but the worldbuilding going on is extremely intricate, which I liked, and I can see the way it’s setting up for the coming books. I believe this is a trilogy, but I’m not 100% sure.
As far as the two protagonists went, I much preferred Serefin and his slightly alcoholic and sarcastic angst to Nadya’s naivety. Her chapters tended to feel longer than Serefin’s and there were altogether more of them, but as I understand it, that will be reversed in Ruthless Gods, wherein Serefin will have more chapters.
I found the magic system wholly unique on Nadya’s side of things with her saints’ beads, and I always love blood mages as a form of magic; it’s just so intriguing. I’m excited to learn more about how it works in the next book since I don’t completely understand it.
I sadly, unlike many of the other people on the internet who might start throwing rocks at me for saying this, really didn’t like Malachiasz. He, to me, was an intriguing character to look at perspective wise, but I really didn’t like the way he serves as a kind of love interest/fixation point for Nadya. He doesn’t really give off the “sad misunderstood guy” trope, but more of a sort of creepy seeming to teeter in the morally grey area and not in the way that I enjoyed. It felt more like he plays Nadya more than anything, especially due to her previously stated naivety. He honestly annoys me, so, not a fan.
However, I loved Serefin, who I’d have to say is probably my favorite character in the whole book. His inner monologue felt much less dense than Nadya’s. I loved the dynamic between him, his general and his captain (?). I’m excited to see more of that in the next book, especially given the little taste of it a few months ago when Ruthless Gods was first announced.
What I’m not sure about, is what angle we’re heading towards in terms of romance in the series, which isn’t so much of a focal point in this first book, as it feels like Duncan is setting up for something much larger than the plot of this first book, but I get two feelings. One, is that despite everything, Nadya will pine after Malachiasz and Serefin will either get his own love interest separate from Nadya or not have one at all, which again, since I don’t really like Malachiasz, is a road I’m hoping Duncan doesn’t go down.
The other would be that Serefin would also be considered a love interest in the next book, and there would be a sort of love triangle. I’m just hoping if she does go that route, then she does it in a way that doesn’t stick to the same love triangle trope we all know by now. I’m hoping that if she does do a love triangle, it doesn’t take away from the overall plot.
Either way, I did, when it came down to the end, find myself enjoying this book and did really like where the plot was heading when the book closed and am excited to see where this story is going next.
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