Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy…

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This is the first book I read for What’s in a Name reading challenge.

And I didn’t pick well.

The main character is Nadya, a cleric who talks to gods – they grant her powers that she can use to fight against the ‘heretics’. The heretics in this book are Tranavians, who don’t follow the gods; instead, they use blood magic. Nadya’s country, Kalyazin, has been at war with Tranavia for a long time – but I can’t say that the politics of this war are entirely clear to me. Nadya, along with Malachiasz (a guy who ran away from Tranavia and now fights against them) and Serefin (Tranavian prince) plans to kill the king of Tranavia and thus stop the war. But why would killing the king stop the war? It isn’t suddenly going to make all heretics disappear, isn’t she going to keep fighting the war against them?

The world building is weak and there’s too much time spent on a romance that happens too quickly and isn’t convincing. I have a feeling there’s gonna be a love triangle in the sequel, but I’m probably never gonna read it, so whatever. Malachiasz and Nadya have zero chemistry between them, but apparently every YA fantasy trilogy has to have some attempt at enemies-to-lovers in the first book, who cares if it’s forced. Ugh. It would make more sense to develop the world and the characters first, so when someone falls in love, I actually find it interesting.

The thing is, this book had so much potential – if only it was better written, if the religion and magic made more sense. It reminded me of Shadow and Bone (which I LOVE) and I saw some people compare the main guy to Kylo Ren – I can definitely see where that comes from. Maybe that was done on purpose, because the author mentions Kylo Ren in Acknowledgments – she’s obviously a fan, but Malachiasz is not as interesting as him.

At least I got started on the What’s in a Name challenge – this book read for the category ‘An antonym’.

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