Ruthless Gods — Book Review
I was blessed enough to win an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan so that is the edition I will be reviewing. I understand some changes have been made to the finished copy. *Please note, there is content warning for this book involving body horror, cutting/self-harm, and gore*
Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.
As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. Their paths are being orchestrated by someone…or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.
To sum up my Ruthless Gods experience— it was a fun read.
It has the ability to dig its talons into you and keep reminding you that not every book is what you expect, nor does each book hook you the same way for the same reasons.
Admittedly, this book is hard to review straightly for what it is. Because there is so much potential and an unidentified reason that every time I set it down thinking I was done with it, I’d pick it back up. But isn’t that the power of story? The appeal of reading?
We follow our motley crew across a vast terrains and creepy forests, of course there is much backstabbing and ulterior/hidden motives. For my personal experience, it read slow. The pacing was part of the reason I put the book down for a few days and then picked it right back up— because of the promise of what came next. And it did. If there is one thing Ruthless Gods supplies is it give you everything you want in a Horror Gothic fantasy. While I don’t feel it fits in YA very squarely, it follows the trope we love: the broody bad boy we love, the misfit prince, the chosen one heroine.
One of the main reasons I keep coming back to Emily A. Duncan’s works is her characters. YA is known for tropes, but Duncan hits the nail square in the head with her use of these tropes and how to thwart them unconventionally. And, as always, there is plenty of banter and sass among our favorite characters.
Malachiasz is our bad boy monster who may not be as ruthless as he seems. I found his character development to be exponential in this second book, giving us a reason to cheer for this villainous Vulture.
I have a soft spot for our resident fallen prince Serefin. I also am the first to admit that he is the character I wish we got more out of. With all of his development in Ruthless Gods, I was expecting to get closer to him and his underlying motive for this arc. While his character was given a very forward-facing growth, I found myself wishing to untangle his internal demons and struggles a bit more.
Nadya is both frustrating and refreshing in all the turns she take.. I do feel that she had the most growth in Ruthless Gods, she had the most at stake, and we are given that satisfaction. She’s still Nadya, but she is a force to be reckoned with, even by the gods standards.
Some of my favorite use of setting in Ruthless Gods is in Serefin’s chapters. The use of ethereal landscapes, including monsters and magic, are part of what grabs your attention and keeps you reading. From the Salt Mines to the alters of gods Emily A. Duncan has a way of weaving the history and lore of her world into every detail. This world that we get in bits and pieces is fully realized and has a deep backstory of its own that I hope we can see someday.
Ruthless Gods is everything you’d expect from a YA Fantasy with its roots deep in Horror and Gothic. That said, there is very prominent body horror, cutting, blood-letting, and toxic relationships. If this type of content affects you, I cannot stress this enough, but I would not read this series. However, if you have the constitution to read such things, it is a beautifully twisted journey to go on. I do feel that it would work better in the adult fantasy market if I am being frank. I think there would be room for the world and the characters to grow in ways that Ruthless Gods feels stifled. Added bonus, these covers are aesthetically pleasing and so much fun to photograph. * Featured in this post is the ARC version and the Owlcrate edition.
Keep Fangirling— Camille