Certain authors have a way of describing both characters and setting that synergistically rouses both a shine of style and a patina of point-of-view that is entirely unique but patently important to the telling of a particular story. Maggie Steifvater is one such author, and All the Crooked Saints is one of those stories.
What is All the Crooked Saints About?
It encompasses the woes of a family of saints, ordinary people who can do extraordinary things, called “miracles,” for other people but only in accordance with what the souls of the other people really need, and at the cost of their “darkness” and it being exposed to others. The turning of a padre’s head into a coyote, for instance, is one such manifestation, and the gigantization of another pilgrim who said he only wished to be less visible to others, instead of more, is another.
While the tale itself is interesting, it would be nothing special without the practical, comfortable style in which it’s told. That style is by far the strength of this book.
For example, Steifvater begins her tale with these lines: “Miracles are very like radio waves…. Not many people realize that the ordinary radio wave and the extraordinary miracle have much in common. When you cultivate invisible seeds, you can’t expect everyone to agree on the shape of your invisible crops. On the night this story begins, both a saint and a scientist were listening to miracles.”
Some might think that a discussion of what radio waves do could easily become too scientific, and of how miracles are enacted could become too esoteric, but she quickly roots both in a small settlement in a stark 1960’s Colorado desert, at night. Then she populates that settlement with a few teenagers suffering from typical adolescent confusion, and slowly builds from there.
As in her Raven Cycle books, which were published before Crooked Saints, Steifvater wraps the reader in a soft blanket of gentle prose, like an old shoe, such that what happens in the book is almost secondary. This is good because, as far as plots go, nothing much does happen.
Indeed, if you’re looking for an action-packed fantasy books with lots of twists and turns, you will not find it in this book. You will, however, find yourself following the subtle bends and arcs of every character in the book as you would those of an old friend in whose presence you are always at peace.
What the Deal on All the Crooked Saints?
It’s $5.99 on Amazon (paperback)! Other forms are ~$11.
Note: I originally published this review on Goodreads.