Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan Blog Tour

Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan
Something Dark and Holy #1
Published on 2 April 2019 by Wednesday Books

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.

I was approached with the incredible opportunity to participate in the Wicked Saints launch tour and since I’ve been anticipating the release of Wicked Saints since April 2018, I signed up. And a month or so later (time is a construct that I struggle with), I got news that I was one of the people selected to be part of the tour. Whoo! *In case that’s not clear enough, I received an ARC of Wicked Saints in exchange for a review and I’m participating in the blog tour portion of the book launch. As honoured as I am to be among these amazing bloggers participating, none of this influenced my rating or review of Wicked Saints.
Let me start off by saying that Wicked Saints is a roller coaster ride of emotions. You will love this book, you will shed tears because of this book, you will gasp and you will take deities’ names in vain, you will mourn and your heart will clench and break and there will be so many emotions ripping through you that you will suffer emotional whiplash and sit there for an actual hour after finishing the book, thinking to yourself “what am I supposed to do with my life now that it’s over? How will I survive until the next book comes out? Why did I have to read this?”
Before I lure you in with how much you should read this book, I want to get the content warning out of the way. Because this book has some triggering content and y’all need to take care of yourselves. If you have any issues whatsoever with self-harm, past or present or just get queasy at the idea of reading about mages whose magic is blood-sourced, I strongly caution you about reading Wicked Saints. I speak from experience when I say that it is hard to ignore the temptation when you see it in media and this book centres around mages who use their own blood for magic. Please, be careful in your reading if you choose to read Wicked Saints.
Ms Duncan brings to life a rich and bloody world that is brimming with bits of Eastern European beauty. I took a bit longer than usual reading this simply because I wanted to be exact in my pronunciations of names and I have, like, next to zero experience with Slavic languages. I know maybe two words in Ukrainian and three in Russian and I learned them through osmosis. Consequently, I was refreshingly challenged with Wicked Saints. I knew very little about the language or how closely enmeshed religion is with everything. I got to have a little enlightenment with my entertainment, which I always welcome.
What we need to know first off is that Wicked Saints takes place amid a century-long holy war between Nadya’s country of Kalyazin and Serefin and Malachiasz’s country of Tranavia. Tranavia no longer worships the gods and practises bloodmagic which isn’t okay to Kalyazin or the edicts of their pantheon of deities. The Tranavians wanted to ‘eradicate’ the gods from Kalyazin like they had from their own country and the Kalyazi wanted to bring the gods back to the ‘lost’ Tranavians and stop the profaning of their deities (the practise of blood magic).
Wicked Saints has three principal characters. Nadezhda Lapteva, or Nadya, is a cleric residing at a secluded mountain monastery. The priests and priestesses of the monastery are trained in battle, but in the event of an actual battle, Nadya was to be protected at all costs. Because she could speak with the gods and work their magic. Serefin Meleski, the Tranavian High Prince and a powerful blood mage. Serefin has so much going on, as is the per usual with royals, I feel like somebody *cough* Ostiya *cough* needs to be there for him 24/7 to have his back because dude. I worry for his liver and I also want to hug him and bundle him up in a handknit afghan and give him some tea, dude needs some TLC in the worst way. Serefin rose to the rank of general, six months after going to battle at sixteen because his father sent him to the front and his mum is too worried about her ownself to worry about her son. Serefin’s hard and untrusting and scary and hurting and terrifyingly cruel and he is so tired of fighting, and, oh yeah, his battalion (is that the word?) just invaded Nadya’s monastery. And finally, Malachiasz Czechowicz is a Tranavian deserter and not just any deserter, but a Vulture. Malachiasz showed so much promise as a bloodmage that he was sent to become one of the elite Vultures who are sect of Tranavians with a grotesque amount of power and this guy defected. Malachiasz is wandering Kalyazin with his two Akolan companions, when they encounter Nadya fleeing the monastery battle. And the fate of their countries lie in their hands. 
Wicked Saints switches POVs between Serefin and Nadezhda throughout the story but is told primarily from Nadya’s view. Normally POV changes bother me because the transitions are so haphazard within chapters and the characters aren’t very distinguishable from each other. But not so with Ms Duncan. The transitions are well-timed and each chapter is labelled with the character whose POV it’s written in. That is so thoughtful! Ms Duncan pulls off differing POVs beautifully. Nadya’s POV and Serefin’s POV have vastly different ‘voices’, you won’t mistake whose POV you’re reading.
I enjoyed the interactions between Nadya and Malachiasz, there were the Kalyazi-Tranavian vibes where they butt heads over their beliefs but there’s also the friendship that slowly forms between them and the slow sparks that start showing up along the way. And then, you toss in their magics melding and working together as the book progresses and I squee. I don’t care if squee isn’t a word. It’s there. The end.
I sped through Wicked Saints because I had to know what was next in store for our principal triad and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. There was torture and there were battles and court deceptions and a betrothal battle because that’s a Tranavian custom that I am totally here for and there is a library that I would sacrifice my nephew for (the problem child one, he’d understand, he’s a bookworm), and a cathedral and I love cathedrals so much. They’re pretty and they’re spooky in the dark, okay? Anyways my heart was all over this book and I need to get my hands on the next book, like, yesterday because this is a trilogy and you cannot leave me like you did. I have feelings, y’know!
I’m not going to lie. None of these characters are going to be nominated for the Humanitarian of the Year or anything, but I’m going to fangirl over Nadya and Malachiasz and Serefin because they were written as flawed and they’re gritty and they are so fed up with the status quo and something has to change and they each have the ability to do something so why not try? Also, I was curious so I went and found out that ‘Nadezhda’ means hope. Excuse the tears but I am having emotions and I cannot control the feelings. NADEZHDA MEANS HOPE.
I’m giving Wicked Saints 5 stars because I loved this book so much and it tore me apart, glued all of my pieces back together, and I still asked for more at the end. I have so much more to say on this book but I’m closing in on the 1500 mark and I am not writing an essay on this book, dang it! I want to thank Meghan H. from Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press who decided to include me in the bloggers approached about participating in the Wicked Saints launch tour, I’m truly over-the-moon ecstatic and honoured to have been included in this endeavour. I hope I’ve done justice to it.

What's Being Said By Other Authors

“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 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." && “This book destroyed me and I adored it.”-  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 

EMILY A DUNCAN 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 text through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons. Wicked Saints is her first book. She lives in Ohio.

Her public social media links are ::

Now, as I said before, I struggled with the names in Wicked Saints because none of my languages are Slavic, and I stumbled across this handy dandy pronunciation guide after I'd finished reading the book. Yes, I read the entire book with a pronunciation aid app on hand, because I do things the hard way. But for those of you who are reading this, you're blessed with the pronunciation guide before you read the book.

There's already a few amazing artists out there picking up their instruments of choice and making fanart in homage to Wicked Saints and my favourite so far is the one of Nadya in this trio posted by Nicole.Deal.Art on Instagram. I love it so very much!

I had no real idea of where to put this excerpt because I wanted to include the lovely damask pattern on the edge of the chapter page. Look at that gorgeous thing! It's not in the ARC I have, but I'm picking up a copy at my local Barnes & Noble (we don't have an indie store locally) just so I can have that lovely pattern on my shelf. I love damask patterns. They're everything good in this world. Okay, I'm closing out my talking portion of this post and leaving you for the excerpt.
My charity for this post is the Autistic Self Advocacy Network because Autism Pride Month is next month and I'm dreading the deluge of 'light it up blue' idiocy where people think Autism $peaks is a wonderful organisation that doesn't promote torturing autistic children in 'therapy'. Unlike Autism $peaks, ASAN is run by autistic individuals for autistic individuals of all ages. Anyways, Don't light it up blue for April we want red instead for acceptance. Until next time, have a happily ever after! (Don't forget to keep reading for the excerpt!!)



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