full of twists and turns
WICKED SAINTS was an absolutely wonderful YA fantasy. We plunge into this world with a holy war- Tranavians against Kalyazins. The Tranavians possess blood magic and do not answer to the gods - they use spell books combined with their blood to cast powerful spells. The most potent blood mages are the Vultures, whose bodies and minds have turned into something darker- and more powerful. The Kalyazins view this as an abomination. They worship the gods, and most of their people are without magic, except the clerics who are given this gift by a patron god.
Nadya is a cleric who has been raised in a monastery. She does not answer to only one god but can call on most- whether and how they answer is up to them. The monastery is under attack by the Tranavians, who are led by their high prince, and the Kalyazins are desperate to save Nadya- she is the only known cleric and their hope for winning this hopeless war. Nadya escapes and encounters other people along the way, two Akolans and a Tranavian who is working against the Tranavian side. Together, they seek to travel to Tranavia and kill the king to end the war. Along the journey, Nadya begins to explore what divinity means and religion, as well as power in its many forms.
In other chapters, we follow Serefin, the high prince, who is a powerful blood mage (not a Vulture though), and who is ready to end this war. He is surprised when his father calls him back to the capitol for a Rawalyk, a ceremony to choose his bride. As Serefin travels back, we learn more about Tranavian politics and even more sinister plots.
This book was impossible to put down and I absolutely loved every second of it. We see the world from both sides of the war and all the complications along with them. This was a fascinating and truly unique story- I don't want to say too much to avoid spoilers, but AHHHHH! There are so many twists and turns and unexpected events, and I loved it! Fans of dark YA fantasy will need to add this to their TBR for sure. I cannot wait for the next one!
As a final note, I will add warnings for self-mutilation/harm (with the blood magic) and also for a bit of a cliffhanger ending.