Review: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

After reading Mister Impossible I ended up reading All the Crooked Saints too, because I really enjoy Maggie Stiefvater’s writing, and I’d bought All the Crooked Saints after I found out Call Down the Hawk existed and checked to see if there were more books I’d missed.  All the Crooked Saints is definitely quite different from The Raven Cycle and Dreamer Trilogy, to me All the Crooked Saints seems more adult and abstract, while both other series are more standard fiction. All the Crooked Saints has an urban legend/folk tale feel that I enjoyed, but that might not be to everyone’s taste.

I like the cover, it’s beautiful, simple, and reflects elements of the story

From bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater, a gripping tale of darkness, miracles, and family. Saints. Miracles. Family. Romance. Death. Redemption.

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 loved the focus on family in this book, I always enjoy reading about the various and tangled interpersonal relationships in a close-knit family, and the Soria family is no exception. I liked the emphasis on all sorts of love, not just romantic love, though there is a little of that. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded if Beatriz’s romantic sub-plot had been cut, though it did help with her character development.

I enjoyed the range of characters in this book, and the sympathetic but no-nonsense ways that miracles were treated. The three Soria cousins were a great focus for the story, and I loved the different ways they all responded to the family and environment they grew up in. Daniel in particular had a gentle strength and a faith that is not common in fictional characters, but that I really enjoyed. Beatriz’s logic and unawareness of her own feelings was likewise an interesting addition to the colourful family of Bicho Raro, and I loved the way everyone knew and accepted her as she was. I do wish she had been given a more defined storyline independent from the other characters of the book though. Joaquin was a character I warmed up to more slowly, though I did genuinely enjoy and appreciate what he brought to the book and the community by the end of the book.

Other than the Sorias, I thought Tony and Pete were great supporting characters, though Jenny, Padre Jiminez and Marisita were all excellent too. I wish Marisita’s back story had been worked throughout the story in smaller pieces, so the ending didn’t seem so abrupt, but I did enjoy the character she became, especially in contrast to the caricature she originally seemed to be. I liked the way the characters in this novel were developed slowly, despite their personalities being larger than life.

The radio show angle, and the songs and history woven into the narrative of All the Crooked Saints added a novel touch that I enjoyed, and while I usually prefer a more developed magic system, the miracles in this book work well with both the gentle message of the book, and the retro setting in time. I liked the idea of miraculous psychology, and the acceptance that working on yourself can take time, patience, and support.

While I enjoyed the way this book ended, I found the pace a little slow, and I think the ending of the novel seemed a little abrupt. I would have liked a little more foreshadowing, and maybe for the high stakes to have been driven home more with the character’s on-page behaviour.

Overall, I enjoyed All the Crooked Saints, even though it’s not what I usually read. For this reason, the recommendations I have aren’t similar in the feel of the book overall, they do have parallels. Ilona Andrews’s The Edge books follow a similarly close knit, unusual family dealing with magical situations, and Maggie Stiefvater’s other books are written similarly, for obvious reasons.


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