Magic and romance steeped in blood and betrayal.
After the dramatic conclusion of Wicked Saints (2019), things have stuttered along. Serefin is king of Tranavia, but the court doesn’t trust him; Malachiasz is the Black Vulture, a monstrous magic wielder, but he still doesn’t have the power he sought, and Nadya can no longer hear her gods. Dual narration from Nadya’s and Serefin’s perspectives, with additional narrative interludes including two of the handful of brown characters in this Eastern European–influenced world of pale skin, takes readers on a (pedestrian) road trip to a scary forest where everyone has a goal that involves killing one of their reluctant allies and sort-of friends. Nadya and Malachiasz continue their doomed, toxic, intense romance even as they work at direct cross-purposes while Serefin (more tortured and less charming this time around) figures out that he likes Kacper and fights a voice in his head; meanwhile, gods (or maybe monsters) stir and manipulate mortals. The pacing lags early on before settling into a steady forward direction, and the prose veers toward overwrought, leavened by charmingly snarky, contemporary-sounding dialogue; fans of the first volume will be pleased to have more of the same, with higher stakes and increasingly complicated questions of power and divinity.
Why mess with a formula that works? (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)