Title: All the Crooked Saints
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Magical Realism
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Maggie Stiefvater and I have a complicated relationship; her books have been very hit and miss for me. It took me two tries to get into and fall in love with The Raven Cycle. The Scorpio Races was another favorite, though the ending wasn’t at all what I expected. I found All The Crooked Saints through a recommendation and had it on hold at my library for a few months. I’d run out of renewals for it, and since the reviews were so glowing, I pushed it to the top of the stack, drawn in by the intriguing plot and the gorgeous, colorful cover. Unfortunately, I finished All The Crooked Saints on Saturday, and I’m still not sure quite how I feel about it. To say that I have mixed feelings is a huge understatement.
The Soria family is known for miracles, so much so that pilgrims flock from all over to experience their remarkable holiness for themselves, often to their detriment. The story focuses on the family at large, but the main characters are dear, close cousins, Joaquin, who longs to leave the dusty town of Bicho Raro, Colorado and become a famous radio DJ, Beatriz, known as the girl without feelings, longs to be free to be able to untangle her seemingly endless thoughts, and finally, Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, able to perform astounding miracles for everyone except for himself. Rife with magic, darkness, rich folklore, forbidden love, and gorgeous prose, I liked All The Crooked Saints, but it wasn’t one of Stiefvater’s stronger entries, at least for me.
There were some aspects of the book I liked, and there were others that I wasn’t so crazy about. I was intrigued by the plot; I love magical realism, and I was kind of expecting something like The Raven Cycle. This was like… Catholic Biblical stories mixed with family and Mexican folklore, with beautiful prose and more than a few elements of magical realism. It was a complete departure from Stiefvater’s usual work, an unusual and unexpected surprise that took a while to get into. Honestly, there was a point in the beginning that I almost put it down. But I’d been looking forward to it, so I decided to soldier on. The prose was what drew me in initially, but what made me stay was the vibrant, colorful Soria family, and the pilgrims they lovingly tend to. Particular standouts are Pete Wyatt, the young man running from familial shame, and Tony, a famous radio DJ out looking for a new lease on life. But what really made me like this book was the rich, dark folklore that surrounds the Soria family, like something out of an old fairy tale. I liked the way that the novel jumped between the different points of view of the characters; it gave a deeper perspective of the whole thing. The ending was also pretty surprising; honestly, that was another aspect that saved the book for me. But I’m so glad that I stuck with it, even if I was thrown off by the beginning. It’s not my favorite Maggie Stiefvater novel, but it was a solid work for the new year, and I’m so happy that I read it! The bottom line: A magical tale of family, faith, magic, and secrets, All The Crooked Saints was a beautiful, thoughtful book, full of surprises and lovable characters! Despite some flaws, this was a story that was greatly enjoyable, and as always, I’m looking forward to more from one of my favorite authors! Next on deck: Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire!