ARC Review/’Ruthless Gods’ by Emily A. Duncan

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Acquired through Netgalley
Book 2 of the Something Dark & Holy trilogy
Length: 544 pages
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: April 7, 2020

Darkness never works alone…

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.

My Thoughts:

     I received ‘Ruthless Gods’ through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

     When I began reading ‘Ruthless Gods’, I was very wary about the direction it was going to take. While I enjoyed reading ‘Wicked Saints’, I found the heavy focus on the romance kinda grating. Within the first few chapters on ‘Ruthless Gods’, I was pleasantly surprised at the revelations placed at the very start!  

     ‘Ruthless Gods’ takes place a few months after the shocking events in the cathedral at Tranavia. Both Nadya and Serefin underwent major changes that awakened innate abilities within themselves. They hold an uneasy alliance while Nadya is held in confinement within the castle, yet they’re forced to flee out of necessity. They set off to fulfill Nadya’s goal: travel west to Kalyazin and bring the gods back into power. This quest is filled with extreme challenges, as both characters are pawns in the gods’ perilous battle to regain their standing within the empire.

     Malachiasz also plays a major role in this book, as he battles with the powerful monster he’s become, and the young man he struggles to maintain within himself. He’s the perfect villain as we saw during ‘Wicked Saints’, toying with his friend’s emotions in order to reach his end goal. In ‘Ruthless Gods’ he continues to fight with this internal struggle to regain humanity. He’s a powerful (and deadly) entity, and the more he succumbs to the desire to inflict pain, the deeper he ventures into darkness.

     The ‘monster-romance’ factor between Nadya and Malachiasz is still alive and well in ‘Ruthless Gods’, yet it doesn’t pervade the entirety of the book. Nadya is still consumed with thoughts of desire, yet she is also aware that she has a mission to undertake. As they venture into Kalyazin, Nadya is refocused on achieving her end goal, and this delivers more confidence in drawing her power as the cleric who speaks to the pantheon. Her renewed confidence is accompanied by some major roadblocks, which causes Nadya to question if she’s truly ready for such a task.

     Serefin is also thrusted into the game of power, albeit reluctantly. He’s consumed with mysterious hallucinations and haunting voices, and he discovers that he not only needs to worry about his throne overtaken by his fellow countrymen, he is willingly placed in the middle of a major conflict between the gods. The religious discourse continues to be a focal point in the book, as both Nadya and Serefin handle a religious awakening the further they delve into their journeys: Serefin fighting with the notion of a pantheon determining the fate of humankind, while Nadya struggles to face a new understanding a magic outside of her traditional ways of thinking.

     This novel continues to be voiced in both Nadya and Serefin’s perspective, and it includes some extra points of view from companions on either side. It feeds some additional backstory into the conflict between Kalyazi and Tranavia as the story leads up to a very revealing conclusion!

     I very much enjoyed reading ‘Ruthless Gods’, and it had a good balance of romance and action within a gothic backdrop. Readers will definitely enjoy such an intense story!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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