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Wicked Saints: A Novel (Something Dark and Holy, 1) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 2, 2019

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,489 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up—A holy war, religious fanaticism, and magical (perhaps divine) powers propel Duncan's protagonists through a Slavic-inspired warscape littered with church ruins and superstition. In the country of Kalyazin, Nadya has been raised in a fortified monastery, the last of the clerics, imbued with magic from the gods that only she can hear. Serefin, heir to the throne of Tranavia and heretical blood mage, can barely remember when he was not on the battlefield. The long-running hostility between their two countries brings them together through circuitous plot developments and uneasy alliances. The core characters include Malachiasz, a mysterious, dangerous mage with secrets that could destroy both nations. The steady action moves through a well-built world with Russian-inspired names that add to the strong sense of setting. Nadya, Malachiasz, and Serefin's trajectories meet and merge, with the attraction between Nadya and Malachiasz a bit awkwardly developed. Nadya's intimate conversations with the divine saints have the tone of teasing family squabbles, which makes the moment the saints turn malevolent disconcertingly scary. Densely descriptive prose flows smoothly despite a sometimes uneven pace, with lush, specific depictions of magic that are compelling. The conclusion is oddly anticlimactic, despite regicide and filicide, but certainly leaves room for a sequel to address those threads left untied. VERDICT Purchase where Leigh Bardugo's books have a following.—Janice M. Del Negro, GSLIS Dominican University, River Forest, IL


**Indie Next Pick for the Spring 2019 Kids’ List**

THE NERD DAILY, “The Best Fantasy + Sci-Fi Books of 2019"

PASTE MAGAZINE, "The 19 Best Young Adult Novels of 2019"

SEVENTEEN, "The 70+ Best Young Adult Books of 2019 So Far"

BOOKRIOT, “20 YA Dark Fantasy Books For Your Winter TBR”

BUZZFEED, "29 YA Books You Absolutely Must Read This Spring"

GOODREADS, “32 Big Books that YA Fans Can’t Wait for in 2019”

CULTRESS, “19 books we can’t wait to get our hands on in 2019”

EPIC READS, "The 16 Most Anticipated YA Books to Read in April"

SYFY, "6 April YA Novels That are Out of This World"

"If you like your young adult fantasy full of ice, blood, and angst, Wicked Saints will sweep you up in its wintery embrace." - NPR, "3 Young Adult Novels To Help You Out Of Hibernation"

"This dark fantasy starts off with a bang... The upfront presence of the gods adds an intriguing twist to a brutal story. The ending is as powerful as the opening, and there are explosive elements waiting to detonate in the expected sequels." - BOOKLIST

“If you love dark fantasy this book promises to be a brutal, enchanting gem, full of terrifying blood-magic.” – BOOKRIOT, “20 Dark Fantasy Books For Your Winter TBR”

“Rarely does a dark, magical epic have so effective a character-grounded sense of humor.” - BULLETIN OF THE CENTER OF CHILDREN'S BOOKS

"Filled with stunning landscapes, engaging lore, and an enemies-to-lovers plot for the ages, Wicked Saints is a dense epic about magic, sacrifice, love, and betrayal." - NERDIST, "8 Books to Enjoy Until Netflix's SHADOW AND BONE"

"Emily A. Duncan’s debut YA novel does not disappoint. It’s thrilling and brutal, reading like a heavy metal song. And it’s the first book in a trilogy! I cannot wait for books two and three―and for whatever else this blistering new talent writes. For Fans of: Authors of dark fantasy novels, like Leigh Bardugo." - PASTE MAGAZINE

"Will leave readers hungry for a sequel." - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"I highly recommend WICKED SAINTS to fantasy readers. Emily Duncan’s writing style reminds me of Leigh Bardugo’s. If you enjoyed the setting of Grisha Trilogy and the characters of SIX OF CROWS, I believe you will enjoy WICKED SAINTS. Duncan’s debut novel is perfect for readers looking for intrigue, dark magic and betrayal on every page." - TEENREADS

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Wednesday Books (April 2, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 400 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250195667
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250195661
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 13 - 18 years
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ HL730L
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 7 - 9
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.36 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 9.25 x 6.25 x 9.3 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 1,489 ratings

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Emily A. Duncan was born and raised in Ohio and works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons.

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
1,489 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on April 18, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on May 21, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on April 2, 2019
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Top reviews from other countries

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable enough read but didn't quite live up to my fevered expectations
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 9, 2019
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5 people found this helpful
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Books of a Ginger
2.0 out of 5 stars Bloody, Dark, but deeply disappointing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 15, 2020
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3 people found this helpful
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4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing concepts and characters
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 18, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Blood and bone. Magic and monsters and tragic power...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 6, 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars Blood and bone. Magic and monsters and tragic power...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 6, 2021
"Blood and blood and bone. Magic and monsters and tragic power..."
WOW! I mean, just wow! This book blew my mind! I joined a read a long after seeing it mentioned on Bookstagram and Booktok. I hadn't heard any spoilers, bar it being based on Russian/Eastern European folklore, and I was very intrigued. If you like Shadow and Bone then you'll love Wicked Saints...
"I'm heartless, but I'm not cruel..."
Wicked Saints is a dark and gothic fantasy set in a version of Eastern Europe that's seeped in a war between the divine power of the gods and the secular magic of blood mages. It follows the POV of Nadya, the last remaining cleric gifted with divine power and forced to flee the monastery she grew up in, and Serefin, the enemy crown Prince and a powerful blood mage who is looking for her. While on the run she encounters three refugees, one of which is a terriblely strong and mysterious blood mage, Malachiasz. They convince her to travel to the enemy kingdom in an attempt to assassinate the king and put an end to the holy war ravaging their two countries. And as you have it, chaos ensues...
"You could be exactly what these countries need to stop their fighting. Or you could rip them apart at the seams..."
I went in to this hearing mixed reviews on the story. Some people absolutely adored it and other people thought it was too chaotic and confusing. To be honest, it is a bit but that chaos spoke to me and I loved it. I'm still left with so many questions and there were times I was wondering what is going on but the book had me hooked and I couldn't stop reading it.
From the first chapter we are straight in to the action and throughout the book it doesn't really let up, it's go, go, go. I loved reading the dual POVs from characters on each side of the holy war. I do wish we got to see Malachiasz's POV and perhaps that might be something in the next books.
There is an enemies to lovers romance, although it does develop quite quickly. I'm a sucker for romance but in this book I found myself too engaged in the plot to mind that the romance was light.
I read Shadow and Bone before this and I preferred Wicked Saints as it felt more was happening with the characters.
"We're all monsters,some of us just hide it better than others..."
Also, shout out to Nadya who understands our struggles with masks... 😂
"Nadya had only been wearing a mask for a day and already she was fantasising about ripping it off..."
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I’d hoped
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 28, 2020
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