All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by: Scholastic Press
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Genre: YA Magical Realism
Format: Print ARC
Others by Author: The Raven Cycle, The Wolves of Mercy Falls, The Scorpio Races
Here is a thing everyone wants:
Here is a thing everyone fears:
What it takes to get one.
Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.
At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.
They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.
If you follow my reviews, you most likely have noticed that I’m a huge Maggie Stiefvater fan. So you can imagine my delight when All the Crooked Saints was announced. Magical realism and a stand alone? Sign. Me. Up. Luckily, I was not disappointed.
One of my favourite parts about reading a Stiefvater book is that the English major part of my brain is very happy–I could write a million essays on a single phrase. Nothing makes me like a book more than when I can enjoy it for the entertainment and stretch my literary muscles at the same time. All the Crooked Saints gave me all of that and more. The writing style is gorgeous, as per usual. It’s unique, funny, and interesting all without being overly pretentious. There were a lot of moments when I had to stop reading and look away to let the words sink in. I also loved the omniscient narrator! Few authors can successfully pull off this type of POV, but Stiefvater is definitely one of them.
Another thing Stiefvater does well is character building. Beatriz, Daniel, Joaquin, Pete, and all the rest were clear, real, and authentic. I loved them all. Their stories felt like stories of real people, just mixed in with a little bit of magic. Magical realism at its best.
As for the negative, I do not have much to say. The only thing is that others may find it a bit slow. I personally devoured it and even forgot to eat at one point, but ATCS certainly isn’t for everyone. Those who like a little more action in their novels may not like this one so much (or any Stiefvater, as a matter of fact). If character-driven novels aren’t your cup of tea, you might want to pass.
Lastly, I feel I must address the controversy that popped up when this book was announced. A lot of people felt like this book might not portray Latinx people very well or very accurately. In my opinion, some of this was snap judgement, especially since a lot of the criticism centered on Stiefvater not having any sensitivity readers (which we later learned she did–I’m not entirely sure where that original claim was from). I feel like rating a book 1 star based on a single interview is much too early. To be fair, Stiefvater doesn’t have a great track record with fan interaction, especially when it comes to discourse about racism and the like, so the fear wasn’t irrational and I don’t condemn anyone who was upset. But I digress.
To me, the book was pretty great and didn’t center on the characters’ identities as Latin-Americans but had some little things thrown here and there that made it feel authentic. Stiefvater isn’t a POC, so I am of the opinion that she shouldn’t write about what it is like to be a POC. However, All the Crooked Saints didn’t feel like it was stealing other people’s voices. It just felt like representation. Being Brazilian, I do consider myself Latina so I don’t feel like I am stepping on people’s toes too much when I say this. However, I am not Mexican-American nor do I have any insight on that identity so please feel free to tell me what you think, or any thoughts you may have below! Please also feel free to call me out on any bullshit I say now or ever.
As a final note, go check out Stiefvater’s Spotify playlist for ATCS! It’s fantastic.
All the Crooked Saints made me feel a lot of things. This very long review is still not long enough to say it all, so please do give me your thoughts/questions/concerns in the comments and I will happily discuss 🙂