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Book Review: All the Crooked Saints

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Title: All the Crooked Saints

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Pages: 320 pages

Rating: 5/5 stars

Standalone

“I was looking for a miracle, but I got a story instead, and sometimes those are the same thing.”

Reading a Maggie Stiefvater novel is always like stepping through a portal into a place just south of reality. Things might look familiar at first glance, but you’ll soon discover nothing is quite as it seems. All the Crooked Saints is no exception. In fact it might be her most richly atmospheric and otherworldly creation yet.

It all takes place in the small town of Bicho Raro, Colorado: a place where miracles aren’t too hard to come by, the desert itself might fall in love with a traveler and the air practically crackles with the potential for magic. This strange little town is the home of the Soria family and the destination of the pilgrims who show up in search for a miracle. The saying “Careful what you wish for” may apply here, cause a Soria miracle is a strange and unpredictable thing.

First the Saint will draw the pilgrim’s inner darkness out so it manifests itself in a physical form. This might leave you with a coyote’s head, a inability to speak words of your own or permanent rain falling over you. That is the first miracle. The second one the pilgrims must preform. To free themselves they must find a way to vanquish their darkness.

The trouble is, these new pilgrims just can’t seem to figure it out. They’re taking up space and making life more complicated. As much as they’d like to, none of Soria’s can interfere or help. If they do their own darkness will manifest and a Soria’s darkness can be a deadly thing.

For one of the three young cousins at the center of this novel; Beatrice, Daniel and Joaquin; the situation is becoming unbearable. They’re compelled to help a pilgrim. Now the other two must find a way to save their cousin from the darkness, without breaking the taboo and bringing darkness down upon the whole family. In the midst of the chaos two newcomers arrive in a Mercury station wagon. One is looking for a miracle, the other one just wants a truck. Both might get more than they bargained for.

The book’s written in a third person omniscient point of view, so while the cousins are arguably our main characters, we get to peak into the minds and hearts of all Soira’s. We get to see their hopes and dreams and fears, without ever getting too close. This choice in narration lends the novel a fairy-tale like quality which fits this magical story perfectly.

As anyone who’s ever read a Maggie Stiefvater book will already know her writing style is quite unique. It’s lush, lyrical and at times wildly abstract. While I adore this kind of writing, I know it can be quite divisive. So if lines like “He was handsome as a cigarette” or “She constructed elaborate paper flowers so realistic that sometimes even the flowers forgot they were not real and wilted for want of water” would annoy you, this might not be the book for you.

This is the seventh Stiefvater novel I’ve read and as much as I love The Raven Cycle, I have to say this one is my favorite of them all. While some readers might think she takes the weirdness a couple of steps too far, I was just delighted and enthralled by the strangeness of it.

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