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Feb 11, 2020

Wicked Saints and Ruthless Gods by Emily Duncan

Wicked Saints published April 2019

Ruthless Gods published April 2020

Something Dark and Holy series, books 1 & 2 by Emily Duncan.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press for providing the eGalley to review Ruthless Gods, the sequel to Wicked Saints.

I had read Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan last November as this short summary was quite intriguing:
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 story is about magical gods, stranger customs to evoke magical powers through blood and one girl's journey of gruesome survival as she struggles to understand who or what she is while trying to save her country. Definitely a fantasy with a bit of incredulity involved but a great premise. While the action in the story was drawn out it was the characters that kept me reading as they were the most intriguing element of Wicked Saints as the shifting plot line bounced out of grasp as to who we were rooting for.

"Ruthless Gods opens the door to a world of fallen gods and eldritch horrors... Gruesome, grotesque, and so, so glorious." - Erin A. Craig, New York Times bestselling author of House of Salt and Sorrows.

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who--and what--he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. Their paths are being orchestrated by someone…or something.

The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

In her dramatic follow-up to Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless.

Book two of Something Dark and Holy is Ruthless Gods and yet I am not quite seeing where the Ruthless Gods were in the whole story as yet again that was out of grasp. Serefin and Malachiasz are proven to be more connected than we first imagine which made for a neat twist but the whole Serefin is gay thing was out of place in the story. This seems to be a trope thing thrown in to newer YA reads just to pander to the audience; I think it is offensive at times to those who identify as such in the first place (but that's another topic for another day). Speaking of offensive: the author also warns her readers of several trigger warnings such as self-harm and "body horror/eye horror".

The main heroine in the series is Nadya and she is supposed to be super magical and 'holy' but apparently she needs to have special beads to talk to gods to be special (so this time she fell flat for me) as the gods were not listening- since Malachiasz is still alive. It was 432 pages of this journey where the characters are at separate stages of their journeys and at 21% I wrote "So they're on this forgettable journey to get Zaneta from the Salt Mines (not that I know what that means) & "Something is stirring. Something is hungry." & if Something Doesn't Happen Soon I AM SLITTING MY WRISTS"
There was a lot of foreshadowing and build up to action as the author really likes to develop the characters thoroughly.

I am writing this review a few weeks after I actually finished it and yet it feels like it has been much longer than that. The saving grace for this story are those characters and yet I still don't feel like these characters' goals were explained properly; the narrative was a lot of musing. Not that I could do better, I do think there was so much potential .. but I kinda think this series would have been better off whittled down from a trilogy down to a good chunky book if some of the repetitiveness was edited out.

I am undecided as to whether or not I would like to read book three, it would depend on the description and the length of it. If the description doesn't tell me exactly what the actual goal is, then I don't want to embark on their journey of weird magic for no particular reason/just to see people interact with each other.

But yet-- if the story would really let something develop and focus on Nadya and Malachiasz saving the world without all the other hangers on, you might rope me into it if St. Martin's Press/Wednesday Books is willing to take another chance with me. They certainly do not need to attempt it as these books have quite a following already on Goodreads and I am one of the few that did not give this one five stars.

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