I feel like I’ve been very lucky this year, with yet another new/recent release making its way into my hands. Most years I typically only manage one or three books on my own, at least outside of holidays and birthdays, so this feels nice. Wicked Saints is a slightly unusual book for me, leaving me having liked it, but nonetheless still missing something that would have made it stand out for me.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Wicked Saints is a multi-character POV Fantasy targeted to Young Adults, focusing on three main characters; Serefin, Nadya, and Malachiasz (whose name I might misspell at some point). Nadya, is special in that not only does she have powers, but she must/can speak with the gods in order to use it. Serefin, is the prince of a rival/warring country, his first meeting with Nadya being as he tears apart her monastery home, and hurts her best friend. Malachiasz, is the one piece of this group that seems to be shrouded in shadow the most, his main story being that he once fought for Serefin’s country before running and deserting. All three are thrown into a course of collision as Serefin is summoned back home, and Nadya and Malachiasz team up to take out the King.
I really did like this book, and the lengths to which Duncan went to make the story world come alive. She thought of everything, from the mythology, political structure, and differing culture between the two countries. There was history, and lore and really I could just go on all day how well the world was set up. Where I had disconnect with the story though was in some of the characters not seeming to match up in different settings.
This character for me was Serefin, and unfortunately he was also my favorite, so that likely didn’t help the situation. In the beginning of the novel we are led to see Serefin as ruthless and dangerous in Nadya’s eyes, which makes sense since she is being hunted by him, and she is also going by his dark reputation. Where the author lost me though is in Serefin’s own POV moments. He doesn’t blink or bat an eye at torturing someone of their loved ones if he believes it’ll provide results while he is in Nadya’s country, and yet he seems to be an entirely different person once he crosses the border into his own country. Now, it is possible that he’s gotten really good at writing these moments off in his mind after so many years on the front, but given the “goodness” he gives off when at court, it’s just a little suspect, and makes me feel like we missed some key opportunities to really get to know this character, especially since Nadya and Malachiasz are given a lot of screen time. They are learning to trust each other, but it felt like Serefin is set up to be darker than he became as the story progressed.
How I felt Serefin was feeling:
Other than the Serefin situation for me, this book was fantastic. It started with a bang, managed to bring us a world without slowing down or cramming it into you, and threw some amazing plot twists as well. You sort of see them coming, but Duncan either builds on the known, or throws a curve ball entirely. This became a wild ride with each flip of the page, and I’ll be honest, I really want the next book, if only to get some more Serefin! I wish I could feel like it hit a four star, but the Serefin bit really killed me. He just needed some more time, or a little more visual of his own darkness. I’m hopeful though in that this next book will bring us a lot more of him, and a lot more development for both him and Nadya as the plot thickens!