Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Hello everyone! Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan comes out next month, so I decided to finally crack open my gorgeous Owlcrate copy of Wicked Saints and read it to see if I should preorder a copy to match (Spoiler alert, I should, and in fact, I already did!) Keep reading to learn more about the dark and bloody world of Wicked Saints and what I thought about it.

About the Book

Title: Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1)

Author: Emily A. Duncan

Genre: YA Fantasy

POV: Third Person Dual (switches between Nadya and Serefin)

Page Count: 385 pages

Release Date: 4/2/19


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.



  • The unique magic system! (Blood magic and divine magic from the gods? Count me in!)
  • Malachiasz. (Enough said.)
  • We’re thrown into the action within the first few chapters. (No long, boring opening scenes here!)
  • Gorgeous dust jacket design (I’m a sucker for book design, can you tell?)
  • The names were not too hard to pronounce, at least in my opinion. (I’ll include the pronunciation guide below this review.)
  • Worldbuilding! (There’s even a map at the front of the book!)


  • At times, the plot seemed a bit rushed, and at other times, too slow.
  • Certain parts were a bit confusing. (partially due to pacing, partially due to writing style in general)
  • Felt too long at times.
  • The side characters felt very flat, and I barely cared about any of them.
  • There were some points where the writing style seemed almost inconsistent with the rest of the book.
  • The fact that the pronunciation guide wasn’t included in the book itself.
  • Instalove moments. Ugh.

There’s a lot to like in Wicked Saints. The writing is (mostly) quite lush and easy to follow, even during dizzying battle scenes. The main characters on this series (Nadya, Malachiasz, and Serefin) are all quite interesting and unique, and I can’t wait to read more about them in the future books, especially given the ordeals they all went through toward the end of the book, which fundamentally changed them all within the last 40 pages. I hope that the side characters, especially Ostyia and Parijahan, get developed more in the future, because I can see great potential in them as well. The side characters all felt a bit flat to me in this book.

I want to talk about my issues with the pacing for a moment. The book had a bit of a lull in the middle, which wasn’t the end of the world, because many books struggle with that issue. My main problem was the pacing within scenes, or sometimes between them. Off the top of my head, there was a scene early on were Serefin leads an attack on a camp or base of some sort, and while it happens off-the-page, there’s no break indicating that time has passed. It goes from preparation to Serefin leaving the scene, almost as though it had been deleted from the book. Another instance involves a scene toward the end of the book, which I won’t spoil, but the jump in time, place, and logic made me quite confused. I think a lot of the confusion people experienced could be chalked up to the pacing issues.

Lastly, I want to touch on the writing style. I thoroughly enjoyed… most of it. I’m normally not a 3rd person POV type of girl, but I found myself enjoying it because each chapter switched between Serefin and Nadya. There were a few odd POV switches within chapters, but they were clearly marked and not confusing at all. My issue lies in the points where the writing style shifts and becoming confusing. I think this can be bundled with the pacing issues as well. There were just a few scenes where the events were presented in almost a stream of consciousness-esque form, which didn’t match the rest of the book. Coupled with Duncan’s comma usage (or occasional lack-thereof) these scenes were almost hard to read. Luckily, they were very rare and I can only really think of 2 or so instances of this, so don’t worry too much.

All-in-all, I really enjoyed Wicked Saints and will definitely be reading the sequel next month! (I’ve already got my Owlcrate exclusive copy preordered!) Wicked Saints isn’t without its problems and confusing moments, but I’d give it a solid 4 stars for being unique, interesting, and dark! Fans of the Grishaverse series, The Crown’s Game series, and The Shadows Between Us will likely enjoy this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you for reading! If you read Wicked Saints, what did you think? Will you be reading Ruthless Gods next month? Let me know in the comments!

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