Wicked Saints: A Novel by Emily A. DuncanWicked Saints: A Novel by Emily A. Duncan

Wicked Saints: A Novel

byEmily A. Duncan

Hardcover | April 2, 2019

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An instant New York Times bestseller!

"Prepare for a snow-frosted, blood-drenched fairy tale where the monsters steal your heart and love ends up being the nightmare." - Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Wolves and The Star-Touched Queen

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.

"This book destroyed me and I adored it."- Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

This edition uses deckle edges; the uneven paper edge is intentional.

EMILY A. DUNCAN is the New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints. She works as a youth services librarian and 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 pla...
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Title:Wicked Saints: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:400 pages, 9.39 × 6.66 × 1.31 inPublished:April 2, 2019Publisher:St. Martin's PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1250195667

ISBN - 13:9781250195661

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A For the Lover of Books Review *Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own. So I got really nervous when I found out my review was going to be coming out on release day… for the official blog tour. I was so excited for Wicked Saints before I even signed up for the blog tour, but if you’ve been here for a while you know that I’m frequently disappointed by books I’m super excited for because I’m a very picky reader. However, as soon as I picked Wicked Saints up I forgot all that and got lost in Kalyazin, Tranavia, and the midst of a holy war. Oh my god this book was so good. As I said on Goodreads, my reaction after finishing this was to take in a few gasping breaths (because I had STOPPED BREATHING... MULTIPLE TIMES while reading this book), and then pull my covers over my head and just lie like that in silence. If that’s not a sign of a good book, I don’t know what is. Unfortunately, reviews tend to require a few more substantial arguments for why you should read the book, so first let’s talk about the characters. I love my new sarcastic murder children so much. Like I will protect Nadya at all costs, and she would probably stab me for it. She’s fierce, and loyal, and she just wants to do what’s right with the power she’s been given, but she also makes mistakes along the way. I love her, and I will fight anyone who reduces her to just a love interest. There’s also Serefin, the powerful blood mage prince who loves his country and his people, but who will also 100% ask you what drink is being served to make sure he can get drunk enough off it. And completing our trio of disasters is Malachiasz, our anxious monster boy who just wants to fix his country. They’re all just so flawed and human, and I love them so much. There are also some amazing side characters in this books, and they genuinely all feel completely fleshed out. They don’t feel like side characters. I feel like I could probably tell you as much if not more about Ostyia (or Kacper, or Parijahan, or Rashid) as I can tell you about Malachiasz. The romance is so well done, and my heart hurts because reasons. I’m so invested in it, and I feel super guilty for shipping it as much as I do, but it just felt so organic. It’s not insta-lovey. It doesn’t feel forced. It just sort of happens. I’ve touched on this a little bit, but I was sucked in from start to finish. It was such a shame when I had to stop reading to actually do school work or perform basic functions. Like this book has my whole heart. I’m still screaming writing this review a week after finishing it. It also got to the point where I had roughly 15% left in the book, and I had apparently started digging my nails into my hand I was so stressed. This continued for the rest of the book, along with me screaming expletives at my phone and stopping to update Goodreads because my body needed oxygen. I don’t think I’ve ever held my breath because I was so invested in a book before. There is a huge content warning on this book for self-harm. 2/3 main characters are blood mages, and they use a lot of blood magic. If that’s not something you can handle at this point in time, it might be best for you to sit this one out. The blood magic is an integral part of the book. Barring that, the magic system and the world-building were so well done. If you told me Kalyazin and Tranavia were real places, I would be very concerned, but I would also totally believe you. I think the thing that really helps with that is that religion plays a major role in the book. There are a lot of YA fantasy books that have one scene where some vague ceremony is performed in some temple/church in book one, and then they just call it a day on including religion in their fantasy world (I am thinking of a specific book, but you can insert a lot of other books here). I’m not religious, but even I can tell that’s not how it works, and that’s not how it works in Wicked Saints. Instead, we have a very devout character, excerpts from books on the gods and saints, and you get to see the effect religion (or lack thereof) has on these two waring countries. You can see that it plays a part in how their countries are run, and their everyday lives. Going off that, this book is so unique. I never knew I needed a book about monsters, magic, and fantasy Poland and Russia before reading Wicked Saints, but now I’m sad there aren’t more books like it out there. It’s also very dark, and my inner emo is very happy about it. Dark in YA doesn’t always mean <em>dark</em>, but here it certainly does and I could not be happier about it. The reveals are also so well set up that figuring them out ahead of time just feels more shocking than predictable. For example, I have a Goodreads update at 51% that just reads "Oh my god I think I just figured out a thing based on one line from our favourite idiot, Serefin. I want to scream". I did in fact scream when it was actually revealed that I was right, because even if you figure out the reveals there are so many other implications to consider. Overall, Wicked Saints was so well executed and gripping, and I would die to have book 2 in my hands right now. It has therefore earned 5 out of 5 stars from me.
Date published: 2019-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thrilling fantasy This book definitely lived up to the hype. It had lots of emotional ups and downs. I loved it. While I was reading it, I kept thinking of the Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. They both have a strong presence of saints in the world. There are monsters masquerading as humans in both worlds. Also, the main character has special powers that she is just learning how to use to the fullest. I became so emotionally invested in the story by the end. Some characters were not who they appeared to be at first, so I didn’t know who to trust. I loved that both Nadya and Serefin had separate narratives, so two sides of the story were told. The final scenes were some of the most intense scenes I’ve ever read. There was tons of action and there were revelations that I wasn’t expecting. I never could have guessed how the story ended! I loved this book. I’m excited to see what happens in the rest of the series! I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Date published: 2019-04-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I liked it Wicked Saints is a frosty timeless fairy-tale that is vivid and spellbinding with lore, geography, history braiding death, magic, and winter. It carves out from Russian and Polish inspiration. The world is set in cathedrals, landscapes and ruins. The characters are sinister, ruthless, and intricate. Wicked Saints is a ruthless elegant story that is dark, monstrous and, set in a political war between gods, magic, and religion. * TW; blood, gore, or self-harm, self-harm in the magic system and past experiences for characters. Readers who enjoyed Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo, Vicious, by V E Schwab, The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black, Throne of Glass, by Sarah J Maas, Vassa in the Night, by Sarah Porter and The Crown’s Game, by Evelyn Skye Wicked Saints has been one of the most HYPE books of 2019. Like no one could stop talking about it. I see it around social media. It has one of the most enrapture premises ever. A debut that I could not ignore. 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. This book scream at me to read me. It calls for my monstrous heart. A book that would shatter me and leave me clawing for the next book. I want monsters to pull from the pages to steal my heart and scatter my organs over the snow-cover hills and forests. However, this deliciously dark tale turned a bloody delicious mess. Nadezhda Lapteva–Nadya–is a cleric who communes with the gods. Around her neck, she wears a necklace - prayer necklace, her fingers catching across the ridged beads as she searched for the right one. Each wooden bead was carved with a symbol representing a god or goddess in the pantheon, twenty in all. She knew them by touch, knew exactly which bead to press to attune to a specific god. to communes to the gods to unleash her extraordinary powers. She is to help the gods reclaim theirs on the world. I enjoy her character. Serefin, the High prince of Tranavia and a powerful blood mage. He's after Nadya. He is not my favorite character, yet I was invested in his POV. Many compare him to the Darkling. I don't know howwwwww??? I prefer Serefin over the Darkling. Malachiasz, a Tranavian and mysterious blood mage who needs Nadya. A very charming, bad boy. Another character I was invested and really enjoyed. What really glues the whole book together are the side characters. I adore everyone. Rashid and Parijahan, Nadya's alias and loyal friends. Ostyia and Kacper - Serefin's lieutenants and close friends. Without them, I don't think I would have enjoyed the book as much as I do. The world is spectacular. I love landscapes, ruins, and cathedrals. The atmosphere is dark, bloody, and brutal. Wicked Saints focuses on magic, religion and the theological debates. I love how religion, magic, and politics is weave in the book. For a century a holy war had raged between Kalyazin and Tranavia. Tranavians didn’t care that their blood magic profaned the gods. If they had their way, the gods’ touch would be eradicated from Kalyazin like it had been from Tranavia. But the war had never reached farther than the Kalyazin border. I love the Vultures. They are so grotesque and wicked. The Vultures were a complicated part of Tranavian society and politics. They were the blood mage elite, a cultic sect of individuals, closed off from the rest of their kingdom, living in the hollowed out carcass of an ancient cathedral in Grazyk under the leadership of a king of their own, the Black Vulture, who sat on the Carrion Throne. Overall, I am really impressed with the book. This is such a promising debut and really recommend. I am invested and engage eough to contuine with the series. *Thank you to Wednesday Books for an early edition to read and review!
Date published: 2019-04-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Intriguing First Book This book was a bit of a surprise for me. I went in thinking I had a good grasp of what the plot was going to be about based on the synopsis, but as I continued reading, I learned that this book was so much more than a historical retelling. Wicked Saints is a story about Nadya, the first cleric her country of Kalyazi has seen in many years. She is able to communicate with multiple gods, who grant her magical powers that she uses to help her fight and defeat the heretics from Tranavia with whom the Kalyazi have been fighting for a very long time. At the forefront of the Tanavian army is Serefin, a High Prince, and a gifted mage. His goal is to defeat the Kalyazi, capture the cleric, and end the war. Nadya soon joins a ragtag group of people who only have one goal in mind, to kill the king of Tranavia, and end the war between the two countries. I loved the world in this book. We have two countries, both of which have two very distinct magic systems. It is hard enough for an author to create and explain to the reader one system of magic, but this author created two and, in my opinion, explained them really well. The world was very robust and well rounded. I really appreciated that there were not super long info dumps, which is fairly typical in a young adult fantasy book in order to help the reader understand the world the novel takes place in. Instead we had short bursts of explanations throughout the book, which helped to flesh out the world. There were moments were moments where I did feel a little confused about something in the world, but it was almost immediately explained, which I loved. I also loved the historical setting of the book. Even though it was obviously a fictional world, you could really see the real-world influences in the descriptions of the architecture, cities, and other surroundings. I also really enjoyed how the book started us in the middle of action. It really helped me get into the book and I was engaged right away. I did think there were parts that dragged in the middle, and some parts of the narrative felt a little disjointed. We jump between Nadya and Serefin's perspectives in this book, and there were some points between their POVs that I felt could have linked a little more clearly, as I was left a little confused as to where we were in terms of time and place. Although there was a slow middle, the ending made up for it. There was a lot of action, twists, and turns happening, and I found myself flying through the last 20% or so. Nadya was an intersting character and I liked seeing her going from despising those who were different to her, to learning to accept people for who they are and not where they are from and what they believe in. I also enjoyed Serefin's character, but I wished we could have seen more development from him as a character, but I am sure we will see that in the next book. To me, the most intersting character was Malachiasz. We never got to see into his head, as a reader, so he was always slightly mysterious and I never knew what he was going to do next. I also have a soft spot for morally ambiguous characters so I loved that about him as well. The only thing I didn't love about the characters was the romance in this story. I felt Nadya was a very strong, and independent young woman but she spent so much time pining after her love interest and worrying about that instead of her mission. It just didn't quite match her character, in my opinion. Overall, this book was great! I loved the plot and I am very excited to see where it goes in the next books in the series.
Date published: 2019-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dark Gods, Romance and Magic THIS BOOK WAS ABSOLUTELY MARVELLOUS. It was a dark fantasy novel, with a complicated forbidden romance, intense world-building, complicated, multi-faced characters, power and OH SO MANY TWISTS AND LIES and I loved every minute that I was immersed in Emily Duncan’s debut novel. THINGS I LOVED ABOUT WICKED SAINTS: 1. THE PLOT: I’m always afraid that fantasy with romance means that the romance will overshadow the plot but despite the fact that romance was a big part of Wicked Saints, the plot, the reason behind the war, the progression, the power-seeking was ALL SO WELL DONE. I was not only invested in the characters but also the story and NOW THAT I’M DONE, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF. 2. THE GIRL, THE PRINCE, AND THE MONSTER: I LOVED Serefin, Nadya and Malachiasz as individual characters and together. I can’t start explaining them, and their growth through the book without spoilers but THEY FELT LIKE THEY WERE REAL CHARACTERS, trying to understand their purpose, with unwavering love to save their country and immense power and I loved it. 3. THE MAGIC: By the time the end (and the moths) came, I was a little lost, but I loved every minute of discovering the different magic that existed in this world. It’s always intriguing when magic that doesn’t follow standard rules and Emily Duncan’s world was definitely different. 4. THE ROMANCE: I think I more love how the romance developed as the two characters traveled and schemed together. They were such polar opposites, in terms of loyalty and power, and I loved seeing how Emily Duncan played with that in the book. I feel like my review hasn’t done justice to the magnificence that is Wicked Saints. I was HOOKED at every turn, invested in the plot, the war, and the romance and totally in love with the characters. It is one of the best debut novels I’ve read in a while and I CANNOT RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH.
Date published: 2019-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dark, cruel, twisty, bloody, magic and oh so good. I went into this one not knowing what to expect and came out pleasantly surprised! It took me a little bit to get used to all of the Russian type names and such, but once I decided to just babble my way through them it got easier. There were quite a few elements to this story and thought there were moments where I felt like they skipped ahead or rushed, for the most part I was really impressed with the complexity and how elaborate the plot was. I was completely intrigued and thought I didn’t really feel “connected” with any specific characters, I loved them all – especially Malachiasz. The ending crushed me and sent me for a whirl. I feel like I couldn’t read fast enough, but I also felt like I had to reread because my mind was blown and I was just left in a WTF state for a while. I have so. Many. Questions. And I need answers. I definitely can’t wait for the rest of the series and will be buying this book.  Disclaimer: This is a little bit of a darker book, so may not be suitable for those more sensitive readers. Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Date published: 2019-04-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Gods, War, Magic and Blood *I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review* This book has magic, monsters, gods, blood and war. Kalyazin and Tranavia have been fighting a holy war for many years. Tranavia practices in blood magic while Kalyazin worships Gods who bestow magic on clerics. The main character, Nadya, is one such cleric. She joins a crew of outcasts with the goal of assassinating the Tranavian king and ending the war. However, one boy in her party harbors a dark secret. For me, the ending of this book was missing something. I love a good betrayal and I understand that this is the first book in a series, but in my opinion, it was too messy. Recommended for fans of The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco and Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller.
Date published: 2019-03-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Mini review on GR! Mini review: DNF Trigger warning: War. Graphic scenes. Up till the point I read. I received this E-Arc via St. Martin’s Press, as a part of the blog tour, and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I was so excited when I got the email for the blog tour! I’d read the expert and was hooked. Even more floored when I got the widget. Unfortunately it wasn’t for me. When I reread the first chapter that was in the expert, I felt nothing. The more I read on the less I cared about the plot and characters. I also realized that this book won’t work for me. I’m not sure I would enjoy the religious elements. It sounded great when I heard about it. Not when I read it. Still recommend. This was a personal thing and I’m sure others would enjoy it.
Date published: 2019-02-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I devoured this book! This book has everything I love in a fantasy book. It has fast-paced plot, told from two perspectives that gives great insight into both sides of conflict, a forbidden romance, unlikely alliances, twists and crackling magic. Also a great book on the themes of identity and choice. I will definitely be recommending this book to fantasy lovers that come into the store when it comes out. #indigoemployee
Date published: 2019-01-27

Editorial Reviews

**Indie Next Pick for the Spring 2019 Kids' List**SEVENTEEN, "The 35 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" THE NERD DAILY, "2019 Book Releases" "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"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"Prepare for a snow frosted, blood drenched fairy tale where the monsters steal your heart and love ends up being the nightmare. Utterly absorbing." - Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Wolves and The Star-Touched Queen "Full of blood and monsters and magic-this book destroyed me and I adored it. Emily is a wicked storyteller, she's not afraid to hurt her characters or her readers. If you've ever fallen in love with a villain you will fall hard for this book." - Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval "This is the novel of dark theology and eldritch blood-magic that I've been waiting for all my life. It's got a world at once brutal and beautiful, filled with characters who are wounded, lovable, and ferocious enough to break your heart. A shattering, utterly satisfying read." - Rosamund Hodge, author of Cruel Beauty and Bright Smoke, Cold Fire "Wicked Saints is a lush, brutal, compelling fantasy that is dark, deep, and bloody-absolutely riveting! With a boy who is both man and monster, mysterious saints with uncertain motives, and a girl filled with holy magic who is just beginning to understand the full reaches of her power, this gothic jewel of a story will sink its visceral iron claws into you, never letting go until you've turned the last page. And truthfully, not even then -the explosive ending will haunt you for days! " - Robin LaFevers, New York Times bestselling author of the His Fair Assassin trilogy "Dark, bloody, and monstrously romantic. This is the villain love interest that we've all been waiting for." - Margaret Rogerson, New York Times bestselling author of An Enchantment of Ravens "Seductively dark and enchanting, Wicked Saints is a trance you won't want to wake from. Duncan has skillfully erected a world like no other, complete with provocative magic, sinister creatures, and a plot that keeps you guessing. This spellbinding YA fantasy will bewitch readers to the very last page." - Adrienne Young, New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep