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All the Crooked Saints Hardcover – October 10, 2017
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Praise for The Raven King:
*"Expect this truly one-of-a-kind series to come to a thundering close." ? Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "Readers will snap up the final installment the second it's available." ? Publishers Weekly, starred review
* "The prose is crisp and dazzling and the dialogue positively crackles." ? School Library Journal, starred review
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All the Crooked Saints, has cute little loves stories, but really no romance in the book. It is about miracles and a family performing miracles and hiding away from their darkness inside while bringing out the darkness inside the pilgrims who come for a miracle. If you liked Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle series, you will probably like this. It has the same feeling to the book.
The characters are very fleshed out and all felt different and unique. There is Beatriz who believes she has no emotions, and Joaquin who goes by the radio DJ Diablo Diablo at night, and there is Pete who comes to Bicho Raro not for a miracle but for a truck. And Daniel the saint of Bicho Raro that has had a troubled past. You get to learn a bit about each character and the one thing everything wants, and the one thing everyone fears whenever you meet a new character. Also, this is based in 1961 so the only technology you really see in this book is a radio.
This is a standalone book, and it does close up nicely. I wish I did have more.
All the Crooked Saints is a book that immersed me in its world from its vibrant cast of characters to the nonchalant magic to the unique cadence of Stiefvater's charming writing. When each character is introduced, the thing they want and the thing they fear are always stated planely. It gets to the heart of the character quickly. The main three cousins are as close as siblings but very different from each other. Beatriz considers herself devoid of emotion because she shares her father's clinical nature and subdued affect. Daniel feels tremendous pressure as the Saint and has been ignoring his emotions for a while. Joaquin is the most wild of the bunch and sets up his rogue radio station on his own, but keeps his illicit dream from everyone else. Beatriz's parents are at a standstill because both process their emotions differently in a way that pushes the other away. They are all cut off in some way, much like their charges.
The pilgrims have come to solve a problem they have not been able to do themselves. The first step of the miracle is the physical manifestation of their darkness. For one woman named Marisita, it's being covered in butterflies and crying so much that they can't fly away. For another, it's being a literal giant, always under scrutiny by others. For another, it's a snake binding her to her sister that only tightens if they try to get away. The family isn't allowed to directly help with their problems or their own darkness will take them over, even worse, which leaves a great many staying in at the house for months. The Soria's don't ever even talk to them, ceasing to even see them as people after a while. The problem comes in when Daniel tries to help Marisita and then is consumed by his own darkness. The way the Soria's have traditionally done things hasn't worked and is finally breaking down, giving the cousins an opportunity to find a new way.
I absolutely love this book. The writing puts magic in the real world as if it's always been there and definitely shows the influence of magical realism. Each character gives us a glimpse into their past without bogging down the plot at all. I loved viewing the world through each characters eyes and seeing beauty in something I ordinarily would not. For instance, Pete falls in love with the desert when I think it's kind of a boring, torturous place to be. I wish this book weren't a stand alone so I could return to the world, but I can see that the story is nicely finished. There is controversy around All the Crooked Saints as Maggie Stiefvater is a white author writing about Mexican culture. I don't see insensitivity or inaccuracies in the book. I felt that there were differing and dynamic views of the characters. People should read the book before labelling it problematic or giving it a low rating. All the Crooked Saints is a beautiful, whimsical novel that shows the importance of communication, connection, and relationships.
I don't want to say it was all quiet, although the overall tone was just so peaceful-and a bit detached. It reminded me of Cathrynne Valente's works in that way. This is a bit of a slow burner, but wow did I get attached to these flawed little snowflake characters!
The plot was odd and excellent, and I'll try to keep it spoiler free. There are saints in the desert, preforming miracle for pilgrims-but these miracles come at a price, as the saints know (though some have to learn). The pilgrims must face their own darkness to overcome these miracles, but what do the saints do? Ignore them, mostly, yet when that darkness rears its head at them, they have to face what they've been ignoring for so long.
I don't want to spoil the characters either, as they're beautiful. Daniel, Beatriz, and Joaquin are so different, but have that wonderful sibling bond. The kind that likes to sneak out at night and make sure parents never know. They may be the 'main' characters, but every character in here is given such attention that you really get to know them all. Stiefvater manages to spin their tales so delicately, and though flawed they're still so loveable. Somewhat absurd at times, but this is a bit of an absurdist story, so don't bring silly reality into it.
If you've never read Stiefvater before, then her writing can be....different. Its lyrical. Beautiful. Poetic and flowly, punctuated with wit and grounding reality. Hard to explain is really the best way to put it. Or, like Cathrynne Valente. But her writing is as much a part of the book as the plot or characters, and you can't say that about every author. Stiefvater has found a unique voice.
This book is one that I'm excited to have been given an ARC of, as I had it on preorder anyway, because I read The Raven Boys (if you haven't its worth it). This is a stand-alone book, which doesn't happen much anymore, so take a moment to get lost in the desert and witness miracles. It's a wonderful experience.
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