So I thought a lot about what I wanted to say about Wicked Saints. (I was a lucky one who got an ARC back in like… July/August of 2018). I really just don’t have the best way to form words out of my incoherent babbling.
I really, really liked this book.
Reading this felt like I got to visit a world where all of my indulgent feelings became valid. How am I supposed to describe how freeing that is?
A place where no one is a shiny gold star hero. A place where dangerous romantic feelings can be valid. A place where if you want to kiss a monster you can, dammit. And then maybe kill him later? Maybe not?
There are threads of romantic darkness and every character has a bit of it inside them. The play with religion and theology is something that is woven well. Believers versus non believers sets a large stage of war and Gods who may or may not use you for their own whims.
As a teen I always was on the receiving end of, how dare you empathize with this imperfect person? How DARE. It was exhausting (and still can be, sidenote: Ben Solo) and to read this novel makes me want to step back in time to tell teen me that something special is waiting just for them in the future.
I sometimes wonder if that’s why vampire’s were as cool as they were when I was a teen, because secretly we all wanted to be able to kiss monsters and not have to feel shamed for it. Illicit feelings can be some of the best feelings.
ANYWAY. If you for any reason identify with any of the things above, read this book. If you want to challenge your idea of what makes a hero or what makes a villain, read this. If you haven’t ever stepped out of your comfort zone to read something different, read this.
The pacing of the plot worked well for me. I usually pride myself on seeing any plot twists coming, and this one actually got me, bonus points for that. Lots of them. I got a very early copy of the story, so there were a few patches of scene flow that didn’t quite connect for me, but I expect those transitions were addressed in later drafts. I also prefer story over structure so these things are easy to look over.
Voice-wise, Duncan’s really worked for me. I felt the humor, the sympathy and the subtext being consciously written into different parts of the story. It is one of the strongest voices I’ve come across in the 2019 debut year, and left me hungry for more.
The characters do shocking things that blur morality, but its appreciated in the sea of fantasies that press the all righteous goodness that is almost impossible in reality. I hope this is a supporting pillar in the shift to find a balance and less of a black and white moral standard.
Serefin, Malachiasz and Nadya will have your hearts by the end of the story. At least one of them will earn your understanding, but I hope they all do. I hope you step back and explore the nuance of the story, ask yourself why do you empathize with these hot mess characters and see how you can apply it to your real world understanding of people in general.
As far as the future is concerned for them I really hope the story gets much much worse. Sort of so I can say, you thought book one was shocking, weeeeell, let’s see how much more awful I can make this. I really want to see the character dynamics explored in a way not often done in YA fiction. I have hopes. I am excited about the hopes.
Anyway, please read this book. Make it successful so there can be more.