Book review: Blessed Monsters (Something Dark and Holy #3) by Emily A. Duncan

Published April 6th 2021 by Wednesday Books


The startling conclusion to the instant New York Times bestselling Something Dark and Holy trilogy

The girl, the monster, the prince, the queen.

They broke the world.

And some things can never be undone.

In Emily A. Duncan’s Blessed Monsters, they must unite once more to fight the dark chaos they’ve unleashed—but is it already too late?

My rating:

“Lie to me,” she whispered. “Do what you do best.”

Blessed Monsters is a highly anticipated release I’ve been waiting for and dying to read. I’ve been following the story for three years and it is hard to say goodbye. But I’ll try.

I decided to start with a spoiler-free part of this review because I want to express my admiration for the work Emily A. Duncan has done with this story. The world-building of this universe was one of the things I highly enjoyed throughout the books. Slavic-based with religion mixed with blood magic was exactly what makes the story stand out. Unlike Leigh Bardugo with her The Grisha Trilogy, Emily put more diligence into researching various Slavic-based cultures and harmonically integrating them into the story. There are almost no seams, how perfect the layout of the world was integrated into the carcass of the story.

The one thing I really loved is the dark tone of the story. This is a highly Gothic and bloody narrative. You can feel the darkness seeping off the pages to the extent when sometimes it does look like madness and it is hard to understand what is happening. But as it has added certain darkness to the story it has also confused it. By book three I was a little bit wary of all the craziness going on around characters and couldn’t understand much. Hopefully, the second part of the book cleared things considerably but it still left an aftertaste that some things would only be comprehensible to the author, not the reader, which kind of disintegrates a reader from the story. Not much but still.

Another thing that bothered me considerably is the repetitiveness of action in this book. I had a deja vu quite a few times, feeling like we have been here before, have done it before. Some phrases and descriptions were similar or the same (?) as in previous books and it felt 500+ pages were too much for this one. I’d cut it, taking some overly poetic parts. But I also understand that it’s the author’s love child; she put her soul into this book.

Knowing how much Emily A. Duncan poured herself into this story, it saddens me that the situation with some of her statements on Twitter was projected on her books as well and people madly give bad ratings to a book they haven’t even read because of their opinion about the author. I still stick to the opinion that a book should not suffer because of its creator. I separate a person who wrote a book from their opinions, religion, or political views, no matter how offensive they are or might seem to others. If I have something to tell the author, I’d do it directly on social media without organizing a witch hunt on the author’s books.

In the second part of this review, I want to make a spoiler part because I need to talk about my favorite characters and I can’t do that without spoilers, so SPOILERS ALERT!!!

The reason I gave this book 3.5 stars is I felt underwhelmed. I loved and enjoyed Wicked Saints and Ruthless Gods so much I hurt when characters hurt. But in Blessed Monsters I felt a little bit detached from them. Why? Because I didn’t feel character development to the extent I wish I could. Granted, the way they decided at the end to sacrifice their lives was very emotional and I loved it but it also felt abrupt, too fast. The whole book Nadya, Serefin, and Malachiasz did exactly the same thing they did in the previous installment – being themselves. The story lacked show, don’t tell factor for me. For example, we were told how charming Malachiasz to everyone was, why Vultures chose him as their leader, but we were never really shown that. Nadya turned from a mild special-snowflake to major pain in a backside with her talk of monstrous boys, plus her newly awakened monstrous powers. We get that you and Malachiasz are the same now, but I didn’t feel the fringe when one thing became the other. This book has a lot of jagged edges that do not fit together perfectly. I love all charters separately and as couples but I did not feel the gradual fondness of them as the whole team.

I wanted less pathos and more sanity (as much as possible), but this story gave me more pathos and more chaos, which I get but also find very confusing and maybe more suitable as a motion picture for a visual perception but not in a written form. I lost a thread of events more than once and struggled to grasp it again.

Then there’s Pelageya, which I found highly confusing and her being a prototype of Baba Yaga was quite weak compared to the original. She confused the narrative more than she served a purpose of some kind of twisted spiritual guidance. I understand that Emily wanted her to be that way but in this book I found myself liking Pelageya less and less, and she took quite a lot of book space if you ask me.

And don’t let me start on the sex scene! We’ve been waiting for Nadya and Malachiasz to do it for three books, and all we get they kiss and the screen goes blank?! I wasn’t expecting the level of Sarah J. Maas nakedness, god no, but considering how bloody this book was, some naked skin would do it well.

Apart from the aforementioned issues, I am still very fond of the whole trilogy. The ending, in my opinion, is very fitting. The characters didn’t get their happily ever after but they got to hope and it is more than they had at the beginning of their journey. I loved how twisted and wicked they were, that basically all of them were monsters, not heroes. And even saving the world they were destroying it, in a way. It’s refreshing. Antiheroes are my favorite type!

Plus, I really liked how the darkness of the story was diluted with humor. Serefin, the light of this story, even at the darkest hour still stayed funny and hilarious. Other characters as well joked quite a lot at the doomed hour and it lightened the story, otherwise, it would’ve been too dark, considering how dark it was already.

Overall, another age is gone with this trilogy’s ending. I am sad and happy, at the same time. It will stay in my heart forever. All characters – main and secondary – play a significant role in the story. No one missed or mistreated and it warms my heart, knowing that even if there wouldn’t be any other books written in this world, at least for them there’s hope in the future and I can close my eyes and go back to the world of Something Dark and Holy.

One thought on “Book review: Blessed Monsters (Something Dark and Holy #3) by Emily A. Duncan

  1. Pingback: WWW Wednesday: April 14, 2021 – One Thousand and One Book

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