Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan (385 pages)
“Wicked Saints”, A Deep Dive into Fantasy
After reading a few lighthearted, realistic YA novels, I was excited to dive back into a fantasy. What I did not expect was to find a story that I would dive into so deeply. Emily A. Duncan’s Wicked Saints begins with the story of Nadya, an orphan girl living in a monastery, who can speak to the gods. Nadya must use this connection to infiltrate the prince’s palace in order to save her people from a bloody war waged by a king looking to conquer new lands. What Nadya did not expect was to find the Prince Serefin worth saving. With the help of her enemy-turned ally Malachiasz, Nadya must learn to embrace the darker features of her power in order to stop the king, a blood mage, from destroying all she holds dear.
A Refreshing Good Vs. Evil YA Fantasy
Let me be clear: this novel is dark. Duncan focuses heavily on the blood magic present in this world and the sacrifice needed for its invocation. That being said, I found this novel intoxicating. Duncan draws heavily from Russian and Polish folklore and faith to create this world which feels fully realized. The characters all seem to inhabit a morally gray area, something I find refreshing in a sea of good vs. evil YA fantasy. While Nadya starts the story completely disgusted by blood magic, she must ultimately use it herself to wage war against the monarchy. She worries that this blasphemy will sever her ties with her gods, the only protectors she’s ever had.
The Bottom Line: 4/5 Brookie Stars
I would highly recommend curling up with this book on a cool fall night with a glass of red wine or spiced chai, preferable with your furry friend in your lap. It’s a perfectly dark novel for the darker seasons.
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Rachel Gomes is a 30-something high school English teacher who lives with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband and their son. Rachel is a voracious reader who loves to learn and has her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. She’s happiest listening to podcasts and talking to friends about the latest news in nerd culture.
Favourite book: Don’t make me choose between A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter
Favourite brunch spot: The Farmer’s Table