Ruthless Gods – Emily A. Duncan – ARC Review

Title: Ruthless Gods
Series: Something Dark and Holy #2
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: April 7th, 2020 (Wednesday Books)

Synopsis: 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.

In her dramatic follow-up to Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless.

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“What happens when a monster tries to become a god?”

Since the end of Wicked Saints, when the plot to kill the King of Tranavia went awry, Malachiasz has retreated to the Salt Mines in his new monstrous form following his failed attempt to become a god. Serefin is now king, but the suspicious circumstances behind his ascension to the throne has done him no favours with the nobility and his young reign is already under threat – and that’s not even considering the new voice in his head, possibly a God’s. Nadya is still at the Tranavian court, posing as a minor noble – but the deception is coming apart and if it is revealed that she is in fact a Kalyazin cleric, her life will be in danger. The war between Tranavia and Kalyazin still rages, but they are the main players anymore. A darker and more dangerous force is taking over, and they are now merely pawns in the game.

I’ve been on tenterhooks, just waiting to read this book ever since I finished Wicked Saints. Having the ARC on hand was such a temptation, but I never read ARCs until about a month before publication and waiting for this was just the worst – but totally worth it. Ruthless Gods is a more plot driven book, and a rather heavy read. I absolutely loved the setting and world building. This time the story moves away from Tranavia as our characters journey deep into the heart of Kalyazin and we finally get to know more of the mythology in this world from monsters to gods, not forgetting fallen gods, and so much more. The temple said to be a direct link to the gods surrounded by a forest full of monsters was a nice touch and very atmospheric.

Our trio – the girl, the monster and the prince – are split up by unexpected circumstances, but their paths remain intertwined, guided, manipulated by the higher powers who are done staying silent. The Gods are no longer speaking to Nadya, essentially leaving her powerless. Nadya is still shockingly naive, even after everything and wilfully blind when it comes to Malachiasz to the point of annoyance. Following his failed attempt to become a god, Malachiasz is left broken and tortured, barely holding on to his identity and sense of self. I thought he might turn out to be a likeable kind of villain like the Darkling, but if that was the goal, it failed. Malachiasz is definitely evil, not to mention a complete manipulator and liar, and he certainly doesn’t seem to be any kind of redeemable. Serefin on the other hand, is turning into a beautifully tragic character as he tries to maintain his sanity while tied to a fallen god and dealing with the consequences of the night he died and came back to life. He has become quite the complex figure and is my favourite character of the three.

I’ve accepted the fact that I’m probably butchering many of these names and words in my head, and there’s no way I can keep track of all these terms used. The pacing is however, slower than I remember from the first book, and it takes a good quarter of the book before anything exciting happens. The flow of the story isn’t as smooth either, especially between POV switches, and while that could just be because the version I read was an ARC, Ruthless Gods did seem unnecessarily long and some portions are vaguer than I would have liked. I also wasn’t very fond of the intermittent chapters from characters not in the trio – it was hard enough keeping track of what was going on with these three without adding more characters into it.

Ruthless Gods was dark and full of horrors, just as expected, but at the same time, this series continues to be one of the most unique reads I have ever come across. If you liked Wicked Saints, you are sure to enjoy this thrilling sequel. Highly recommended!

Ruthless Gods releases on April 7th, 2020.

Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:


7 thoughts on “Ruthless Gods – Emily A. Duncan – ARC Review

  1. Sarah March 24, 2020 / 8:49 am

    This book sounds like quite the read. I haven’t read the first book in the series, but even so, I think I will be adding this series to my TBR. Though I will admit, I don’t tend to read many darker books because I have yet to find ones that truly make me feel creeped out or scared. Maybe this series will fulfill that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • journeyintofantasy April 4, 2020 / 4:41 pm

      This series was my first foray into a darker fantasy, since I tend to avoid scary novels as a genre too. It’s a really unique read. Hope you enjoy it!


  2. Bossylibrarian March 25, 2020 / 2:18 pm

    crazy names are so hard in books! I find myself just skimming over them. Love it in audios though, let the narrator do all the hard work! Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • journeyintofantasy April 4, 2020 / 4:44 pm

      I probably will end up listening to the audiobooks for this series at some point, if only to find out how it’s meant to be read 😃 Thanks for reading!


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