In arc review book review books fantasy wicked saints young adult

REVIEW: Wicked Saints

Title: Wicked Saints
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Genre(s):  Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: April 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭/5

"We're all monsters, Nadya, some of us just hide it better than others."

I'm going to try to keep this review short, but Wicked Saints is hugely hyped all around the book community. After reading the premise, it also peaked my interest, and when I received a review copy I immediately got to reading. Let me tell you that this book took me a month to finish. For someone who reads around 150 to 200 books a year, that is a long time. Without further ado, let me get into the review.

What is this book about?
In a world where clerics talk to one god in particular, one of them hears all the gods. Wicked Saints follows three different characters; a girl with the ability to talk to gods, a boy consumed by darkness, and a prince who doesn't know who to trust. All of them band together to assassinate the king and stop a war brewing in their country. Can they stop the horrificness and brutality of the war, or will they succumb to a darker power?

What did I think about this book?
In short, I did not love this as much as I hoped I would. Writing-wise, I could not for the life of me get through this. For a story that promises such intriguing storylines, the plot was excruciatingly slow. The writing also did not pull me in as I hoped it would; her writing is fine, but I thought there were some cliché lines and plot-points that just didn't do it for me.

Plot-wise, I understood the writer's intention, I really did. 2019 is a year where villains are the new cool and morally grey characters are a must. However, her characters, especially Malachiasz, felt very, dare I say, cheap. Don't get me wrong, I love characters like The Darkling from the Grisha trilogy, but I do so because they have a certain amount of complexity and they interest me. The dark villain in Wicked Saints is not nearly as well-written as he warrants, in my opinion. I see where the writer wanted to go, but his character fell incredibly flat for me, and oftentimes didn't even make any sense.

The characters I did end up liking to a certain extent were Nadya and Serefin. Nadya has some definite similarities to Alina (I strongly believe this book was inspired by the Grisha trilogy in particular and I even think it's marketed that way? Don't quote me on that!), and Serefin I thought was interesting on his own. I would've preferred to read a book about him, rather than the whole plot this book presented.

Briefly, addressing the setting, there's an overload of Russian-based stories nowadays, so it's crucial for authors to introduce a well-written, original universe. This is where I think Wicked Saints succeeded. I really enjoyed the heavy emphasis on religion and gods. It shows the dark side of religion, and the whole universe has a medieval vibe.

Lastly, please be careful reading this book if any of your triggers include self-harm, abuse, and alcoholism (that last one is used as a character trait/aesthetic, rather than an actual problem, which..... I don't fully agree with). 

All in all, this book formed a minor disappointment. The book's premise really had me intrigued, but it didn't fully plan out like I hoped it would. The setting and some of the characters, were good, but the main plot didn't fully interest me, and I had trouble getting through the book. This, in the end, only ended up being a 3 star read for me.

[Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for sending a Review copy!]

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