All the Crooked Saints
Published October 10, 2017
I loved Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle books, so I had high hopes for All the Crooked Saints. I’m happy to say that I loved it.
The Raven Cycle books had magical elements, but this time, Stiefvater has gone full magical realism. All the Crooked Saints is the story of the Soria family. The Sorias live in the Colorado desert in 1962. They have the ability to perform miracles, and in each generation, there is a Soria saint who is responsible for the miracles. Pilgrims come from all over in need of a miracle, and the saint provides them. Of course, these miracles aren’t exactly the Virgin Mary appearing at Fatima. The miracles cause the pilgrim’s inner darkness to manifest physically, which leads to some very bizarre things, such as a priest with the head of a coyote and a woman who is constantly rained on. There’s a catch to the miracles: once the first miracle happens, the Sorias can’t interfere or advise the pilgrims on how to progress to their second miracle, because that will trigger the Soria’s inner darkness and Soria darkness is much worse than normal darkness. This means that the pilgrims come to the Sorias, and many of them don’t leave.
The younger generation of Sorias includes three cousins: Daniel, the current saint, Beatriz, a girl supposedly without feelings, and Joaquin, a pirate radio DJ. The three are very close, and when Daniel breaks the rules and his darkness manifests, Beatriz and Joaquin are desperate to save him, despite family opposition.
This book is really wonderful. I was captivated from the first line: “You can hear a miracle a long way after dark.” Stiefvater’s writing is really beautiful and strange and imaginative. For example:
“Here was a thing Beatriz wanted: to devote time time to understanding how a butterfly was similar to a galaxy. Here was a thing she feared: being asked to do anything else.”
At just over 300 pages, this is a fairly short book, but it packs so much into those pages. There are a lot of characters, and although some of them are only seen briefly, they’re all very distinctive (see the above-mentioned coyote-headed priest) and Stiefvater’s evocative writing makes them come alive. The focus is on the three cousins, and Beatriz is my favorite. She’s known as a girl without feelings, but she actually has many feelings. It’s just that she processes those feelings a bit differently than everyone around her. What seems to others to be a lack of feeling is actually Beatriz analyzing every aspect of her feelings before deciding how to react. She’s a fascinating character, and although this is a stand-alone novel, I’d love a book about her.
I received an ARC from Amazon Vine.