Wicked Saints: A Tale of Malevolence and Witchcraft

Wicked Saints: A Tale of Malevolence and Witchcraft

Akshita Nair, Staff Writer


New and upcoming author Emily A. Duncan’s debut novel “Wicked Saints” has surpassed expectations and made its way up to #4 on the New York Times Young Adult best-sellers list. Heavily influenced by authors such as Leigh Bardugo and Cassandra Clare, the book contains elements of fantasy, magic, and some elements of Russian and Polish folklore.

Set in the fictional country of Transavia, the story follows Nadya, a girl with the ability to speak to gods, as she struggles to face her destiny and save her people. An alcoholic prince subject to his father’s whims must hunt Nadya down and destroy her, but he soon runs into a  new sense of hesitation that he has never experienced before. Also, accompanying Nadya is Malachiasz, a monstrous boy who is keeping secrets and making Nadya question his motives with every step they takes. Together, they strive to assassinate the king and stop the war. With all the odds against them, and more enemies than allies, these three must make a decision that will decide the fate of a centuries-old war and restore order.

The story itself is mostly focused on fantasy and magic, but theocratic themes are brought up several times. Religion is very crucial to those in the kingdom, and Nadya  follows her faith fervently, basing many of her decisions on it. Religious characters are rare to come by in young adult novels considering the amount of impiety of youth culture today.

However, there were some faults that I could not help but pick up on. The book lacks diversity: there were only two characters of color, Parijahan and Rashid, both of whom only briefly appeared in the book. My main criticism regarding the book was the direction the plot went  in terms of the main character. Nadya is the main character that the story is supposed to focus on, but her POV’s felt as if they were solely focused other characters, most notably Malachiasz, the monster mage. Once he was introduced, the pre-ordained hardcore girl who was supposed to be the hero of her story was reduced to a love-interest.

Nevertheless, the story still kept me hanging on every word and craving more once I put it down. I would recommend this book to book lovers who love fantasy mixed in with political intrigue and European folklore influence. Building a world filled with questioned faith, intense politics, and a beautiful environment, Emily A. Duncan has exceeded expectations with her take on fantasy.