Anyone familiar with Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse is aware of the omnipresence of the Saints. They’re invoked throughout the series, called upon, cursed or spoken of, almost as if they were secondary characters.
I’m always impressed by this type of worldbuilding, especially when done right. Bardugo seamlessly blends this belief system into her novels so that it doesn’t feel forced or manufactured. If anything, a curiosity existed throughout the series, leading to the creation of a book about them: The Lives of Saints or in Ravkan, Istorii Sankt’ya. This metafiction, stories within a story, is precisely the type of thing I love and can’t get enough of, and this enchanting and beautifully illustrated volume was totally worth the read. Any readers who enjoyed The Language of Thorns, a collection of stories featuring Bardugo’s penchant for the ethereal, would also enjoy this.
With brilliantly rendered illustrations by Dan Zollinger, the “miracles and martyrdoms” of the Saints are portrayed in detail on the page and in the artwork. The slim book is a quick read and fascinating in its scope, carefully constructed to involve every inch of Bardugo’s world from Shu Han to Ketterdem and beyond.
Heartbreaking and inspiring, this book will engross readers, who will encounter some of the more well known Grishaverse’s saints—Sankta Alina, but also Sankta Lizabeta—as well as the lesser known saints. And the stories themselves aren’t lighthearted—anyone who knows the stories of Catholic saints is aware of the trials and tribulations they faced in life (and death) to be canonized. But any reader of the Grishaverse knows the darkness that lurks around the corner of the world, that real horrors befall the characters and why should the Saints be different?
Like most story collections, some of the selections are better than others but overall the effect is a wonderful addition to the series and new readers just starting with Shadow and Bone or more established fans will enjoy the book’s succinct tales
I also love the cover, and I feel that just by looking at it I’m glimpsing something that truly belongs in the Grishaverse, a world that is fascinating and enchanting. As we eagerly await the next book in the King of Scars series and the upcoming Netflix series, the book is an enticing little slice of the Grishaverse that keeps us all thinking of the Saints long after we finish this compact and polished little volume.