Review: All the Crooked Saints

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All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic on 10 October 2017
Pages: 311
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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Here is a thing everyone wants:
A miracle.

Here is a thing everyone fears:
What it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado, is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

I’m not really a huge magical realism fan, so I knew going into this that, despite being a diehard Maggie Stiefvater fan, this book may not be for me. Unfortunately, I was right.

All the Crooked Saints is a story about loss, love, saints and demons. Set in Bicho Raro, Colorado during the 1960s, it focuses on the Soria family and the pilgrims who have come to them for a miracle. It is full of Stiefvater’s signature lyrical prose, however the story itself was slow-moving and left me feeling bored. There was a really slow build-up for what was ultimately a rushed ending. The writing was absolutely phenomenal – there really is nothing that Stiefvater can’t make sound magical and gorgeous. The story had a fairy/folk tale vibe at times, a slight softness to what is ultimately a weird story.

There was a host of interesting characters, including the three Soria cousins – Daniel, the saint of Bicho Raro; Beatriz, a girl incapable of feeling emotions; and Joaquín, otherwise known as Diablo Diablo, who runs an illegal radio station. Marisita, a pilgrim who is constantly followed by heavy rain, was probably my favourite of the pilgrims, followed closely by Padre Jiminez, who had the head of a jackal and overall really just fascinated me. Unfortunately, at times it felt as if these characters were slightly tweaked versions of the characters in the Raven Cycle.

Ultimately, this book was just okay. I appreciated that Stiefvater was trying to do something new, and I loved that she took criticism of her lack of representation in previous novels on board.  I will definitely pick up Stiefvater’s future books, this one just wasn’t for me.

Recommended for fans of: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

★★★☆☆

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