All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater


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ARC received via #arcsfortrade on Twitter!
(Thank you so much, Payton! ❤)

🦉📚✨: You can get All the Crooked Saints and more of Maggie’s books signed from Fountain Bookstore!

🦉📖💗: And you can read Chapter One online for free Here!

This is the first Maggie Stiefvater book that I’m not giving five stars to, and it honestly hurts my heart to even write this review.

“You can hear a miracle a long way after dark.”

All the Crooked Saints is a story set in the 1960s and is about love, loss, hope, fear, saints, demons, roses, owls, and an illegally homemade radio station that brings a small community together.

Most of you probably know the controversy with this book: This is Maggie Stiefvater’s take on magical realism. Magical realism is a genre that was originally created by the Latinx community, and Maggie Stiefvater is a very famous white writer who has already been called out a few times because of her representation. I haven’t read enough magical realism to know if Maggie’s take is inaccurate or offensive, but I do know that not everyone’s story is meant to be told by white women.

Plus, I’m a white book reviewer. I didn’t find anything outwardly problematic or offensive, but I did feel uncomfortable reading a few of the phrases (like Diablo Diablo). Once this book releases, I would love to link you guys to some actual Latinx own voices reviews, who will be much more educated on this genre and the representation at hand.

But my problems with this book didn’t even stem from questionable cultural appropriation; this book was just boring to me. Yes, Maggie’s lyrical writing style is still present throughout the book, but I never once felt fully immersed with this actual story. I have so many tabs in my ARC of gorgeous passages filled with whimsical prose after whimsical prose, but the beautiful writing didn’t help me to actually care about these characters. This actually pains me to say, but if this wasn’t an ARC I probably would have DNFed this book by the half way point, just because I was so uninvested with the main characters.

“Humans are as drawn to hope as owls are to miracles.”

All the Crooked Saints surrounds and stars three very different cousins:
Daniel – the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs the miracles.
Beatriz – a girl incapable of feeling emotions, until a special boy comes to town.
Joaquin – the boy in charge of the radio station, Diablo Diablo himself!

The Soria family live in the small town of Bicho Raro, Colorado, where people come from all over so that they can receive a miracle. But what the people don’t know is that once Daniel performs the initial miracle, they have to perform a second miracle to be truly healed from their darkness. Therefore, a lot of outsiders are still residing in Bicho Raro, waiting for that second miracle to come.

“No one wanted to see their darkness made manifest, but the reality was that it could not be fought until you saw its shape.”

Even though Daniel helps manifest the outsiders’ darkness that they are harboring inside of them, all of the Soria family are forbidden to help them perform that second miracle of banishing the darkness for themselves. That is, until Daniel is faced with his own darkness and is forced to flee into the desert in hopes of protecting his family.

We get a super unique and full cast of side characters, because of these outsiders (they are called pilgrims in this book) that are unable to heal themselves. My favorite was, hands down, Marisita. Her darkness is manifested into constant rain following her, which leads to constant butterflies on her white dress and I loved that imagery every time it was mentioned.

“Here was a thing she feared: that the prettiest thing about her was her exterior.”

But besides the beautiful writing and Marisita, this just fell so short of every expectation I had for this story. The Raven Boys, Shiver, I’ve love them all, but this one just wasn’t for me. I’m not sure if it was the 60s setting, or the desert environment, or maybe it was because I haven’t read that many magical realism novels before, but All the Crooked Saints just didn’t work for me at all. It also felt like such a slow burning buildup of a story, that just turned into a very rushed ending and epilogue.

Overall, this book was just okay in my personal opinion. I honestly feel like the story itself is only a two star read, but the writing, in true Maggie Stiefvater fashion, is a tier above most out there. Her lyrical prose deserves an entire star on its own, therefore I’m giving this three stars. But yeah, this is for sure one of the biggest disappointments for me in regards to 2017 book releases.

Maggie still crafts absolute magic with her writing, and I still plan on reading everything else she continues to write in the future. I know this was a miss for me, but hopefully if you decided to pick it up this fall it won’t be a miss for you. I’m also really looking forward to see what everyone else thinks about this one! Happy reading, guys!

“You can hear a miracle a long way after dark, even when you are dying.”

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy Read with Mary

25 thoughts on “All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

  1. Oh wow! I’m sorry this was such a let-down for you! I just got a copy of the ARC in the mail, but I have some other books I want to get through before I get to this one. I’m really intrigued to see what I think of it, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. awww sorry to hear you didn’t love this! I hope I enjoy it more 😬 Still, lovely review! Would you consider this more magical realism than TRC and The Scorpio Races? I’ve kinda always classified those books as magical realism, so I’m curious about what makes this one different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always classified those at magical realism, too, until I started talking to a Latinx friend of mine that helped me understand it in “these magically things are taken as normal” = magical realism. Like, everyone thinks that Ronan and Adam’s abilities are unique and magical, where is magical realism it’s just accepted as fact and no one second guesses it or treats its differently. Like, in this book everyone knows and accepts the miracles and the darkness as “normal” if that makes sense?

      Again, I’m probably doing a terrible job explaining this. But that’s what opened my eyes to things like TRC and The Night Circus not being magical realism, even though I used to think they were for years and years.

      But yeah, thank you for your kind words. I am still in disbelief that I didn’t love this book. I can’t wait to hear what you think once you give it a try! Happy reading, Emma! 💗

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That does make sense, thanks for the explanation! The classification has always been a little ambiguous for me though, bc some of the magical realism books I’ve read by Latinx writers have had a kind of “magic is normal and accepted” kind of world, but it’s confined only to a small community. So that’s why the community of Thisby in Scorpio Races and the huge cast of characters in Henrietta caught up in the ley line/Cabeswater stuff felt magical realism-y to me. I’ll definitely look into a more detailed explanation, though, thanks for bringing it up!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, it’s for sure complicated and I honestly haven’t read much magical realism anyways, so I’m probably doing a terrible job explaining, too! Haha. I am really looking forward to more reviews of this to come forward!

        I do have an ARC of Wild Beauty I plan to read this month, so it will be a cool comparison to read it and AtCS so close together! 💛✨

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think Maggie also writes beautiful prose but I haven’t been really drawn into her books before. The Raven Boys was supposed to be this amazing series about death and Blue and etc but it was just about the guys….Stinks that her newest book isn’t too good and I likely won’t enjoy it too much tbh haha. It’s nice we can preview the book with a first chapter though. I hope your next read is better!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry to hear it didn’t meet your expectations because the premise sounds very intriguing. The raven boys didn’t worked out for me but I expected this to be pretty good and now I’m afraid that I won’t going to like this either. Still, I might give this a shot someday! Nice review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah… I was kind of looking forward to the book. Magical realism has never been a huge thing for me but I was thinking with Stiefvater’s writing I’d be able to be swept away… is the writing alone worth it? i don’t know..Great review, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m looking forward to picking this one up and see how it all plays out. My only problem right now with the book since I haven’t read it yet is the name of the place in Colorado I don’t like it at all but whatever. Great review and I’m picking it up just because aside from the things you mentioned you didn’t like I want to read all the whimsical parts (:

    Liked by 1 person

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