Monday, April 8, 2019

Book Review: Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan

Wicked Saints
Something Dark and Holy #1

Emily A. Duncan

April 2, 2019

St. Martin's Press

Add to:

eARC from publisher for honest review

Book Synopsis:

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..

My Thoughts:

I was attracted to Wicked Saints when I read the book synopsis.  It sounded magical, and I've been on a fantasy reading binge lately!  This made Wicked Saints the perfect choice for my next reading adventure!

A century of holy war has raged between Kalyazin and Tranavia.  Seventeen year old Nadezhda "Nadya" Lapteva resides in a secluded monastery in the mountains with her best friend Kostya, where she is to be protected at all costs.  Nadya can communicate with the gods and goddesses, and they give her their power, magic, and language to speak powerful spells into existence.  Marzenya, goddess of magic, sacrifice, and death, is Nadya's patron in the pantheon, and claimed her as an infant.  

The Tranavians use blood magic, a dark and powerful magic.  Their magic profanes the gods and is the antithesis of the Kalyazins form of magic.  There is none more powerful than the Tranavian High Prince, who is just a couple of years older than Nadya. If he were to take her, her blood and magic could be used to make him even more powerful. When the Tranavians overrun the monastery in search of Nadya, dear mentors and friends are forced to sacrifice themselves, so that she can escape.  The Kalyazins believe that she is powerful enough to win the war for them.

While on the run, Nadya and her friend Anna, an ordained priestess, meet and team up with Parijahan (a girl that wants Nadya to murder the Tranavian King), Rashid, and Malachiasz, a Tranavian Mage.  Thus, begins Nadya's perilous and magical journey... Simultaneously, Tranavian Prince Serefin Meleski, and his friends and fellow soldiers, Ostyia, and Kacper are in pursuit of Nadya. 

I enjoyed the opening scene of the story!  I thought it was an excellent beginning and had my undivided attention.  However, after that first scene, the story didn't continue to hold my interest.  I felt like the plot wasn't moving fast enough for me.  I was bored, and found myself falling asleep each time I would attempt to read more of the story.  

I liked that we got the dual viewpoints of Nadya and Serefin, the Tranavian High Prince.  I enjoyed the supporting characters, the elements of the different forms of magic, and learning about the opposing viewpoints on religion, politics, and magic.  I found the Vultures of Tranavia; twisted, violent, powerful and dark blood mages, that were no longer human, and instead had become monster-like; to be extremely fascinating.

Overall, this story had a lot of ups and downs for me.  There were moments of fascination and interest, as well as a majority of moments of boredom, where the plot fell flat, and  the story just wasn't moving fast enough.  This story just wasn't for me and didn't measure up to my high hopes.    


Purchase At:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble 

About Emily A. Duncan:

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. She is represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.


  1. Bummer! I hate it when I'm bored and the story just drags. Hope the next book is a win!

  2. I hope so too! Thanks for stopping by Rachel!

  3. ohhh :( too bad that it dragged. I hope that you enjoy the next book!

  4. So sorry this fell flat for you. I have read reviews that praised it. I have it on my wish list but perhaps a library book.

    1. Yes, I have read mixed reviews on it. It seems readers either loved it or didn't. I really wanted to like it, but just couldn't get in to it.

  5. Too bad the middle sagged for you. It does have a great set up, it seems. I just finished off a great fantasy trilogy, Book of the Ancestor trio by Mark Lawrence. I want to find more, too.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation Sophia! I'm going to check out Book of the Ancestor!

  6. Oh dear, I feel your disappointment. I am so sorry this one did not work for you.

  7. Yes, I wish this one would have worked out for me. Thanks for stopping by Nadene.

  8. Sorry to read you didn't like this book as much as you hoped. Especially since the beginning was so great.
    That cover sure grabs your attention.

  9. Yes, the cover grabbed my attention for sure and I loved the opening scene!

  10. GAHHH It's so hard when a book catches your interest but only in small batches! I've been interested in this book so it was nice to hear a really honest review and see a different POV compared to all the praise. ❤️

    1. This book definitely caught my interest! I wish I'd enjoyed it more.

  11. Thank you for the honest review. Based off the synopsis you'd think this story would be a bit more fast paced than it was. I'm sorry it was disappointing. That being said I'm grateful you were honest so I know not to pick this one up. Good on you for being able to finish it though. I have trouble sticking to books when the pacing isn't well done.

    Sharrice @Reese's Reviews

    1. Thanks Reese! I felt bad for not liking it, but I just couldn’t get in to it.


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