Book Reviews

{Review} WICKED SAINTS, by Emily A. Duncan

Published by Wednesday Books Genres: Dark Fantasy, Dark Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Gothic, Horror, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Psychological Horror, Supernatural, Suspense, Thriller, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover

“Prepare for a snow-frosted, blood-drenched fairy tale where the monsters steal your heart and love ends up being the nightmare.” – Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Wolves and The Star-Touched Queen

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.

4.5 stars.

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Horror After Dark Review

WICKED SAINTS is the first book in the “Something Dark and Holy” trilogy by Emily A. Duncan. Although marketed as Dark Fantasy, I have a difficult time separating this from horror, as both contain elements of the supernatural, blood, and death. In this case, especially, I feel that the lines blur, and cross over. In my opinion, this novel showcases horror–both visceral and emotional/psychological–supernatural, dark fantasy, and suspense/thriller genres.

It is dark, and that alone sets the tone.

“. . . war didn’t care for carefully laid plans.” 

Our three main characters come from completely different ways of life, which makes for intense dynamics. Nadya is a gifted young cleric who has spent her life in a monastery, communing with the numerous gods her people believe in, and channeling their powers.

The “High Prince”, Serafin, is a blood mage from the neighboring country of Tranavia, tasked with the destruction of Kalyzin–and Nadya, specifically.

Then we have Malachiasz–a self-proclaimed “monster” who defected from his order.

“We’re all monsters . . . Some of us just hide it better than others.” 

Obviously, their paths are destined to collide.

Duncan has created a complex world that I fell into very easily. The war-ravaged towns, each favoring different forms of magic, and a king determined to rule over all, made for scenes of non-stop action, carnage, and evolving emotions. The world building here was a great strength–establishing one sector that believed in these mysterious “gods”, and another that believed in the strength of blood magic. The journey to the main face-off had everything you could want in a novel–showing the reader the main points they needed to know about the lands and the people.

“. . . It’s hard living your life knowing you’re probably going to die horribly . . . “ 

There were many side-plots, extra characters playing pivotal roles, and of course, magical duels.

“. . . It builds over time, magic does . . . After enough years pass, it becomes routine . . . “ 

I really enjoyed this new world of gods/goddesses, and blood mages. This made for an action packed novel, with only a few “lulls”. The characters captivated me from the start, and the emotional progression felt natural, never forced.

“. . . sometimes the only thing left is to disappear . . . “ 

The conclusion was complex, and left me more excited than ever to read the upcoming sequel, RUTHLESS GODS.

Highly recommended.

About The Author

About Emily A. Duncan

Emily A. Duncan was born and raised in Ohio and 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 texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons.


I am an avid reader/reviewer and collector of books--primarily horror, supernatural, and supernatural-themed thrillers.

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