I genuinely have no idea how to feel about Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan. It’s the sort of novel that leaves you feeling conflicted, unsure whether or not you actually enjoyed it or if there were just fractions of the story that you would love to see replicated somewhere else. For me, the experience of reading Wicked Saints was one that teetered back and forth between fascinating and boring. On more than one occasion I had to put the book down in favor of something else because I could feel myself slipping into a slump with it.
And yet, ironically at the same time, Wicked Saints was actually a rather quick read.
The story centers mainly around the characters Nadya and Serafin on opposite ends of a war, the first a young cleric who has the unique power to converse with and receive power blessings from all of the gods her people believe in and the second a young prince of a land that has defected from the gods in favor of using heretical–so far as Nadya’s people believe–blood magic. Malachiasz, a powerful blood mage and ex-vulture (blood mages who have transformed themselves grotesquely in exchange for power), is another key player in this rather tumultuous war as he joins forces with Nadya.
The story begins when Prince Serafin of Tranavia and his army attack and desecrate the monastery where Nadya lives, setting into motion what she believes is her destiny to end the war and bring her gods back to Serafin’s people. As Serafin’s father calls him from the front and back home for reasons Serafin suspects are more nefarious than his father lets on, both characters eventually make their way to the heart cause of the war, the Tranavian King. And while Malachiasz and Nadya form an uncertain alliance, it is clear that neither can trust the other and both have their own ends to meet.
Much of the “adventure” part of the story created the bulk of my boredom. It felt long and drawn out, somewhat like filler and left me dropping and picking the novel back up at regular intervals. However, once everyone got to Tranavia, the story did pick up quite a bit. It was the end of the story, tied in with some facts that Nadya learns about her gods, that really sold the book for me.
The romance aspect wasn’t done well enough for me to care. I think this was due in part to Nadya’s character. At times she felt rather underdeveloped, though the potential was definitely there, and I never really got the sense that she actually cared for her love interest as she was said to. It was Malachaisz who really sold the story, in my opinion, as his feelings at least did seem somewhat genuine.
As far as twists go, I didn’t see a single one coming, and that at least I would love to credit the author for. Those twists are the very reason that I actually have interest enough to continue reading the story, though where she goes in the sequel will really solidify whether I think this series is worthwhile or not. I have several ideas in my head for how the new problems will be addressed and admittedly only one of those really works out in its favor.
Despite being rather awful in the beginning, I actually grew rather fond of Serafin. Sadly, out of all the characters within the story, Nadya was the one I liked least. I suppose, in true fashion to how I felt about the book as a whole, I feel as though I’m leaving this review without ever having managed to express how I feel about it. It seems like something that is unfinished, just as the cliffhanger of Wicked Saints leaves evrything unfinished. The truth is that I remain conflicted, both in emotions and in this review.