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Seven Faceless Saints, A Masterful YA Fantasy

The book cover of Seven Faceless Saints that is mostly white stone that showcases the domed roofs and pillars of the setting in the novel with the cracked statue of a saint at the very top, and blood dripping under the facade of the buildings and onto the title.

From NetGalley:

Discover what’s lurking in the shadows in this dark fantasy debut with a murder-mystery twist—perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kerri Maniscalco.
 In the city of Ombrazia, saints and their disciples rule with terrifying and unjust power, playing favorites while the unfavored struggle to survive.
After her father’s murder at the hands of the Ombrazian military, Rossana Lacertosa is willing to do whatever it takes to dismantle the corrupt system: tapping into her powers as a disciple of Patience, joining the rebellion, and facing the boy who broke her heart. As the youngest captain in the history of Palazzo security, Damian Venturi is expected to be ruthless and strong and to serve the saints with unquestioning devotion. But three years spent fighting in a never-ending war have left him with deeper scars than he wants to admit…and a fear of confronting the girl he left behind.
Now a murderer stalks Ombrazia’s citizens. As the body count climbs, the Palazzo is all too happy to look the other way—that is, until a disciple becomes the newest victim. With every lead turning into a dead end, Damian and Roz must team up to find the killer, even if it means digging up buried emotions. As they dive into the underbelly of Ombrazia, the pair will discover something more sinister—and far less holy. With darkness closing in and time running out, will they be able to save the city from an evil so powerful that it threatens to destroy everything in its path?

Seven Faceless Saints is a perfect depiction of everything I love in fantasy (especially YA fantasy). An angry, fierce girl, who loves and fights with equal passion. A sweet, honest boy whose determination and inner strength inspire others to follow his lead. And the fresh, inventive world they inhabit. M.K. Lobb has given us the gift of a magical and dark story within the pages of her debut novel.

It starts with death and ends in chaos in a full-circle moment that is both satisfying and addicting. You crave more. It's a good thing then, that Book Two in this duology came out last month! There's so much more to learn about the Ombrazia, the magic, and the characters that we're just getting to know in Seven Faceless Saints.

When we meet Roz and Damian, they're both entrenched in the effects of an ongoing war on their everyday lives. Damian is dealing with, or not really dealing with, his guilt and trauma from his actions on the battlefield. Roz is mourning the loss of her father, her former best friend--Damian--and latent powers she doesn't really want. Both Roz and Damian spend a great deal of time trying to find their place in a corrupt system that continues to fail its people, the vulnerable, the poor, and the elderly.

Sound familiar?

Lobb does a phenomenal job building this world! She uses the lens of her characters expertly, in ways that tell us about Ombrazia and about the two young people whose lives we're following. She drips in dribbles of information about the pantheon of gods that made this magical and tragic city what it has become. It's there in the way the characters treat each other. It's there in the gorgeous descriptions of the sculptures and architecture. And it's one of the many things that separates Roz and Damian.

Apart from Roz's love-strangling hatred for Damian's father, and Damian, and the secrets she's keeping from him, that is. Not to mention Damian's guilt and self-loathing as a result of trauma from his time at war. This is no simple love story. But then, the best ones rarely are.

When the mysterious murders on both sides of the political divide brings the two former friends together again, sparks, harsh words, and aching memories fly between them. On their hunt to find the killer and stop the murders, they unearth a dangerous plot that neither is prepared for while addressing their feelings. The combination of romance, angst, and mystery, gives us an inviting plot that keeps its readers turning the page.

This book is propulsive, interesting, bold, and beautifully written.

If you like badass girls who know what they want and say what they mean. If you like boys who fall hard and deep and live just as earnestly. If you love high stakes, danger around every corner, and sarcasm, I don't know what you're waiting for.

Buy the book! Then buy Disciples of Chaos. The full duology is out now!


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