Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Macmillan for an eARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review!
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. They’re pieces on a board, 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.
I don’t even know where to start. I’ve written and rewritten this review quite a few times just trying to get everything perfect because it’s deserves nothing less. It was dark and deceitful yet still had these little tender romantic moments that managed to just make the ending so amazingly horrible.
“The girl who is a cleric but not a cleric, a witch but not a witch.”
“The monster who sits on a throne of gilded bones and reaches for the heavens far past his understanding…”
“…the princeling touched by a power he does not believe in.”
At the end of Wicked Saints Malachiasz betrayed Nadya and Serefin to become a god. Everyone is really feeling the repercussions of that and it set into motion a chain of events seemingly above the war already happening. All three seem to be pieces in a much larger game set in motion by unknown players. Nadya cannot hear her gods anymore and has a magic that rips apart the magic system she has been taught. Serefin now has a voice in his head from some forgotten being after dying and being brought back. Malachiasz reached to be a god and seems to have failed, stuck in a state of unraveling into the dark.
The relationships in this book are so dynamic, intertwined in a way I have to get to come across anywhere else. A cleric, a monster, and a king. They are all friends who love one another, who do nothing but lie and scheme and try to save their own countries while also constantly forgiving each other because they’re all just doing what they think is right. It’s maddening yet I understand it. They all just want the war to end and their respective countries to not be crushed.
Malachiasz and Nadya are just heartbreaking. Like rip my heart out of my chest and eat it. He is a monster reaching to be a god and she is a cleric controlled by the gods. They both know it’s not going to end well, are both lying to each other with the other knowing, and yet how could they not give in? We get a mix of steamy scenes (that salt mine scene was just woah) and tender moments between them. Kiss the monster, always.
This magic system that seemed so straightforward in Wicked Saints was totally torn apart in that ending and we don’t even realize it until Ruthless Gods. It’s not just blood magic versus that bestowed by the gods. This whole book is spent trying to figure out what the magic system even is. Even at the end I couldn’t truly tell you how it worked, just that it’s not as black and white as it was originally made out to be. It sounded like the next book might give us the answers Nadya has been searching for.
Ruthless Gods felt like this giant puzzle that was almost complete when we got it, but then we realize the pieces we have left are actually for a completely different puzzle. I loved the shit out of it. It was fast-paced, engaging, so darkly beautiful and utterly confusing at times. We don’t get to see things clearly because our characters don’t. The only thing I would change about this book, this series so far actually, is that I want Malachiasz’s perspective desperately. It’s so odd to me that our focus is put on the cleric, the monster and the king but we only get tidbits from the perspective of the monster. I don’t need it, but I need it.
If you, like me, had a difficult time with Wicked Saints, forgive it and come over to the dark side in Ruthless Gods which more than compensates for any earlier downfalls.