All the Crooked Saints

All the Crooked Saints


Title: All the Crooked Saints

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Series: N/A

Publisher: Scholastic Children’s Books

Release Date: October 10th 2017

Rating:

Five Stars

Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
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.

– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“What a shame that both miracles and radio waves are invisible, because it would be quite a sight: ribbons of marvel and sound stretching out straight and true from all over the world.”

Bicho Raro is home to the Soria family and people have travelled there from all over the world for miracles. However the miracles are never what people expect them to be, and once the pilgrims receive the first miracle they are trapped with their darkness, unable to perform the second miracle that will free them; and because of the curse of their own terrible darkness the Soria’s are unable to help them any further.

All the Crooked Saints follows the story of all the Soria’s and all of the pilgrims at Bicho Raro, but it mainly focuses on the cousins Beatriz, Daniel and Joaquin. There are a few mixed reviews for this book, I read a few myself before picking up All the Crooked Saints, so I went into this book with lowered expectations but while the beginning was a little bit of a struggle to get into I ended up loving this book.

“Imagine…you have a tormented mind,” Diablo Diablo said, his voice dramatic. “You barter with sadness or you fight with grief or you eat arrogance every morning with your coffee. There are saints in this valley who can heal you. You and every other pilgrim can canter to Bicho Raro to receive a miracle. A miracle, you say? A miracle.”

It’s the Soria’s one rule; they cannot help the pilgrims that live among them, they can’t even interact with them, for fear of drawing our their own darkness. However when one of their own breaks that rule and walks into the desert to face their darkness the rest of the family are left to face the rules they’ve lived with for so long.

The plot of All the Crooked Saints isn’t one I can easily sum up, like all magical realism books I’ve read to date it’s complicated but there’s so much magic in the writing that it’s created a beautiful story. There is an omniscient narrator, which I know for others has been an aspect of the story they’ve struggled to get into, but in my opinion it added a new depth to the character and story development. With only a short time to build up both I thought one element would be lacking slightly, but neither the characters or the plot were because the omniscient narrator allowed a new level of detail.

…The Characters

“If you’re missing someone tonight, know that I, Diablo Diablo, am, too. It’s an enormous sky out there with a lot of stars above it and a lot of folks underneath it, and all of us, stars and human, are missing someone in the dark.”

The Soria cousins, Beatriz, Daniel and Joaquin, are all close. They are looking for different things but with the help of the pirate radio station they run out in the desert in a rundown truck they are all closer to finding them by the end of the book. Beatriz is more silent than not, she is logical and examines her feelings before acting upon them which gives others the impression that she doesn’t have any feelings. Daniel is the Saint of Bicho Raro, and for years he has performed miracles for the pilgrims that come to his home, unable to help them battle the second part of their darkness. Like Beatriz Daniel is quiet but his is a more peaceful silence than logical.

Joaquin is the loud outspoken one in comparison to his cousins, and while Beatriz and Daniel are closer it is still the three of them that make up the heart of this story. Joaquin is the DJ of their renegade radio station, performing under the name Diablo Diablo. He is still working out who he is but he knows who he wants to be and it doesn’t involve staying in Bicho Raro or being forgotten by the world.

“People are like sweet, sweet chords—we love them when they’re playing all together nicely, like in the pretty number I’m going to spin next, but it would be a crying shame to forget what a lovely little noise a D major makes strummed on a single guitar.”

The Soria’s are a close family, but there is a tension between them that years of dealing with the pilgrims and a history of facing their own terrible darkness has built up. While All the Crooked Saints is largely about the pilgrims finding their own second miracles and the three Soria cousins it is also about the rest of the family and how Beatriz, Daniel and Joaquin’s actions reflect and change them throughout this book.

“Love in the high desert is a strange thing. There is something about the climate – the remoteness, the severity of the seasons, the dryness of the air, the extreme beauty – that makes people feel more deeply.”

Pete travels to Bicho Raro not for a miracle but for a truck. Like everyone else who travels to Bicho Raro he is looking for something and also like everyone else who travels to Bicho Raro he doesn’t find what he expects to. Pete was probably my favourite character in this story, he falls in love with the desert and falls in love with Beatriz, and despite his unassuming nature he is almost a source of strength in this book, outside of the darkness and miracles but still affected by them.

While I enjoyed the story it was the characters I loved the most; reading their individual stories made deeper by the omniscient narrator, reading their journeys in this book alone and seeing how they change and develop from beginning to end.

…The Setting

“Pete fell deeply in love with it.
This strange cold desert does not care if you live or die in it, but he fell for it anyway. He had not known before then that a place could feel so raw and so close to the surface. His weak heart felt the danger but could not resist.
He fell in love so fiercely that the desert itself noticed.”

Like all magical realism books there isn’t much in the way of world building. We are simply introduced to a world where miracles are real and there is a family in the heart of the desert who can perform them for you. Still the way the desert and the small home of Bicho Raro was written I fell in love with both, because while we didn’t get much explanation we got plenty of detail which made them feel so real. When it comes down to it I thought this story was a perfect fit for the magical realism genre, because miracles are about faith and shouldn’t really have a scientific explanation behind them, they should be about belief which the magical realism genre allows room for.


I did struggle to get into All the Crooked Saints, but I’ve noticed that’s a trend I’ve experienced with plenty of magical realism books including one of my favourite reads of this year, Wild Beauty. In the end I’m glad I stuck with this book because it was a truly beautiful story that I quickly fell in love with. If you’re a fan of the magical realism genre then this is a book you can’t miss out on.

What did you think of All the Crooked Saints? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

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38 thoughts on “All the Crooked Saints

  1. Even though I preordered this book and I have it on my shelves, I have yet to crack it open. It’s flying low on my radar right about now, but your review is encouraging me to get to it sooner! It sounds so interesting and original. I didn’t know it was magical realism! I’m not one for MR, but if it’s Maggie Stiefvater, then I can certainly give it a try! So glad you enjoyed this one! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be honest when I saw some of the mixed reviews this one was low on my list as well, but I got around to it eventually and despite the slow start I fell in love with this one. It was a great read and definitely one I’d class as magical realism too. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this one because it’s Maggie Stiefvater despite it being magical realism. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I skimmed this a little because I have this on my tbr (surprise surprise) but I’m glad to see that you enjoyed it 🙂 from what I have seen, this book has some great reviews, so I definitely need to pick it up 😅 actually, I need to just pick up any Maggie Stiefvater book 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry I have a lot in my TBR list still too, and as such a lot of reviews I have to skin read because of it! 🙂 Yeah despite the mixed reviews I saw before picking up All the Crooked Saints I ended up really loving it. I thought it was a great read so hopefully you’ll agree when you get around to it. Also if you haven’t read any Maggie Stiefvater book then you definitely definitely need to read her Raven Cycle series. That’s like a must in my opinion! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yay- I’m so so glad you enjoyed this because I’ve been hearing mixed things (I have to agree with Sophie though, some of it seems a little unfair) and it’s on my tbr- I do get what you mean- it takes me a while to get into a lot of magical realism books too, but I do love them 🙂 (and I especially loved the Raven Boys) Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah there are a lot of mixed reviews for this one, I haven’t read too many myself because I find it helps me judge a book for myself rather than take other people’s opinions of it you know? Either way I went into this one with lowered expectations and ended up being blown away. It was an incredible read in my opinion and I really hope you enjoy it too, but I think if you can get past the beginning and get into the story properly you will. Magical realism is just one of those genres it sometimes takes a little while to adjust to I guess. 🙂
      Thanks so much! 😀 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah that makes a lot of sense and is fair. I think it’s best to do that, I’ve just stumbled across a few reviews here and there. But that’s really good 🙂 Fantastic! I’m really glad to hear that. Totally get that. You’re welcome 😀 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A lot of the time if it’s a book I really can’t wait for I won’t do more than skim read reviews, enough to get a general idea of what the reviewer is saying but not enough to affect my opinion. Works better for me that way. 🙂
        Thanks! 😀 ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been hearing soooo many great things about this book! (Granted, I’ve also heard many bad things but from a bit of personal research, I think it was uninformed hate).
    I’m really glad you enjoyed reading this, Beth 🙂 Stiefvater is one of those authors I have yet to get into but I’m almost positive I will fall head first into her world and want to stay there forever hahaha
    I’ve also discovered my love for magical realism recently so I think this would be a perfect addition to a still tiny but growing collection. I also had the impression that this book was not an easy one to sum up, and your review just proved it 😛 (which is not a bad thing at all, I love mysteries!)
    I don’t have a problem with omniscient narrators and I think they can add such a special touch to a story. I prefer that to lack of information and being kept in the dark for no apparent reason – that’s just frustrating.
    It’s awesome when the characters completely steal the show, even if the plot is equally interesting.
    Glad you stuck with ATCS despite everything, as it ended up being such a lovely read 🙂
    Amazing review, Beth!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah there are a fair few mixed reviews for this one, so I did end up going into All the Crooked Saints with lowered expectations, but I ended up really loving it. It was a great story and I’m glad because while I loved Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series her Shiver book was a bit miss for me.
      Oh I’d highly recommend her books Sophie, and I’d say start with The Raven Cycle series because I don’t think it can be beat. Then again if you’ve recently discovered the magical realism genre I guess this would be a great one to pick up as well. 🙂
      Ha, no this was definitely not an easy review for me to write but I’ve found the books I love the most never are. Plus it means you get to discover the joy of this book for yourself. 😀 The omniscient narrator just added to the story in my opinion, and the characters were just amazing. We were introduced to so many but they were all wonderfully written. 🙂
      I’m glad I stuck with it too, it ended up being a book that was worth the wait to get into it. 🙂
      Thanks so much! 🙂 ❤️

      Like

      1. Ah that’s a shame about the Shiver series, because I love wolves and so I felt I would enjoy it based on the plot. But I also heard there are not a lot of wolves involved? What’s that about, author, you promised me wolves! 😂😂
        The Raven Cycle is definitely on my radar and now All the Crooked Saints, for sure, thanks to your wonderful review, Beth 🙂
        I’m glad to hear that’s the case! I’m even more pumped to start it now 😀
        You’re very welcome! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If you love wolves it may be worth giving the series a go. I know plenty of people who have enjoyed it I just don’t think it was the series for me (I only read the first book so I can’t say much about how much wolves are involved though).
        I’m sure you’ll love The Raven Cycle series Sophie, everyone else seems to have, and hopefully you’ll love All the Crooked Saints though there are more mixed reviews for that one out there. 🙂 ❤️

        Like

  5. Great review, Beth! I think I’m just like you when it comes to magical realism, it always takes me a little while to get into the story, but once I’m in it, I love it 🙂 I think it’s because it is such a particular genre with strange things happening, it takes a bit of time to get accustomed to this again, especially when it’s been a while 🙂
    I’m so glad you enjoyed this book so much – it is on my TBR and I can’t wait to read it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Marie! 😀 Yeah I feel like the magical realism genre is one that can be a little hard to get into. Just a side effect of the way it’s written especially when we’re so used to fantasy and/or contemporary books instead, but this is a genre and a book that’s so worth it when you do get into it. I really hope you end up enjoying this one as much as I did Marie, but given you’ve loved the magical realism books you’ve read so far I’m almost sure you will. 🙂 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Sophie. 🙂 Yeah after I managed to get past the slow-ish beginning this was a great story, and yes I’d highly recommend picking up the magical realism genre. The top two books I’d say you have to read are Bone Gap by Laura Ruby and When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore, they’re my all-time favourites! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Both of these books sound very interesting, so I added them to my tbr haha. I am especially fascinated by When the Moon was Ours, which seems like such a unique story. Thanks for the recommendations!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yay! I can’t wait for you to read them, and I really hope you love them as well. In my opinion both are the best of the best when it comes to magical realism, and Anna-Marie McLemore is the very best magical realism author! 😀
        That’s all right. 🙂 ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I scared to pick this book up, to be honest, also because of the mixed reviews I’m getting. But I loved The Raven Boys so much hence I’m leaning towards reading this sooner! Hopefully I’ll like it as much as you did! Great review, Beth!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are plenty of mixed reviews for this one, and I ended up going into All the Crooked Saints with lowered expectations because of them, but once I got past the slow-ish beginning and really got into the story I loved it. I hope it’ll be the same for you Kat, especially considering you loved The Raven Boys as well. 🙂 Thanks so much! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. After reading Trang’s review of this I wasn’t able to ever look at it positively hahahah I’m so glad that it didn’t influence you at all and that your love for magical realism kept you going to the point of adoring this book in the end, Beth! Excellent review, as always. There’s nothing like reading another person’s experience of a book and seeing how different it was! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did end up going into All the Crooked Saints with lowered expectations, not just because of Trang’s review but because of all of the mixed reviews I’d seen, but I still ended up really loving this one after I managed to get into the book. I guess my love of magical realism helped a little there. 😀
      Thanks so much Lashaan, yeah we all have different opinions when it comes to books don’t we? What makes reading reviews fun seeing other people’s thoughts on the same books you loved or hated. 🙂 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great review Beth! I’m glad to see you liked this book! I feel like every Maggie Stiefvater book is hard to sum up the plot; she has this way of writing her books where they are so magical you go ‘what did I read’ and I love that about her. I just wish that I loved this story as well as all her others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Meghan. 🙂 Yeah I really enjoyed this one, and it was definitely a classic Maggie Stiefvater book in that the plot was amazing but hard to define. This is definitely a book that if you can get into it it’s a really enjoyable read, but yeah there are a fair few mixed reviews out there for All the Crooked Saints. It’s a shame you couldn’t get into this one but at least there are some of her other books you’ve loved right? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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