Utterly wretched, brutal, and entirely unholy, Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan is just as heartbreaking as its predecessor. This book plumbs the depths of the human soul, and when you resurface, you will not be the same.
The monster soared so close to divinity, but in the end, he still fell short. He continues to reach, becoming less and less human and more and more of a monster. Still, it is not enough.
The girl is lost without her magic, without the gods’ guidance, shattered by the betrayal of the boy she loved. Left with nothing, she wanders around the Tranavian castle, lost and drifting. She desperately devours religious texts, trying to understand why Malchiasz chose the path that he did. Although she knows he doesn’t deserve it, she misses him. Part of her even hopes that she can still save him.
The prince is now the king of Tranavia, following the untimely death of his father. His entire court has turned against him, due to the fact that he can’t explain his father’s death, and the only possible way to appease them is rescue one noble’s daughter from the lair of his greatest foe—the Black Vulture. He’s recently begun hearing voices in his head, which he tries desperately to ignore, and every night he drinks himself into oblivion to chase the nightmares away.
War still rages across Kalayzin and Tranavia, but the greater concern is whatever the gods are planning. And yet, Nadya still doesn’t know if they are really gods at all, or if they are just powerful monsters who’ve been passing themselves off as gods, although as the book goes on, it becomes more clear that it’s probably the later.
Confession time: I had a hard time getting through this book. Over the course of several months, I picked it up, read a hundred pages, and put it down again to read something else. Even though I loved this book, it is a hard world to inhabit for long periods of time. There are moments of levity, but no light or hope anywhere. Everything is just dark, dark, dark, and reading it for too long, especially for those of us who struggle with mental health issues, is intensely depressing. This book also has a slower pace than Wicked Saints, which is slow-paced to begin with, meaning it does drag at times, and I did often get lost in what exactly was happening.
But what ultimately draws me to this story and made me keep pushing on, in spite of the pain, is Malchiasz and Nadya. The questions the book poses about darkness and divinity are fascinating, and Serefin is an excellent character in his own right, but it’s really Mal and Nadya who I have fallen in love with, as individuals, but especially with their relationship together.
This book is a story about a girl who loved a boy who tore himself to pieces and all she wants is to put him back together again. But he doesn’t want to be fixed. And if she can’t fix him, she has to destroy him. Mal and Nadya are at complete odds with each other. They belong to different countries, different magics. She wants to save the world and he wants to watch it burn. Yet she cannot help loving him, as he cannot help loving her. Even though they know they ought to hate each other, they comfort each other, hold each other, and always make sure the other one is okay. It’s beautiful, and it breaks my heart at the same time.
Their relationship also gives the most unexpected moments of humor. Their conversations are full of witty banter that can often make me laugh out loud. Although this book is thoroughly dark and you would think it would be out of place, those conversations are just want I need to break up the gloom.
Just like the first, this novel delivers on all it promises. If you loved Wicked Saints, Ruthless Gods is a sequel every bit as dark and twisted (and bloody). Be prepared to scream, cry, and rage, because as we bookworms know, it’s not a great book if it doesn’t make you feel things.