Review: The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Dive into the epic world of international bestselling author Leigh Bardugo with this beautifully illustrated replica of The Lives of Saints, the Istorii Sankt’ya, featuring tales of saints drawn from the beloved novels and beyond. Out of the pages of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, from the hands of Alina Starkov to yours, the Istorii Sankt’ya is a magical keepsake from the Grishaverse.
These tales include miracles and martyrdoms from familiar saints like Sankta Lizabeta of the Roses and Sankt Ilya in Chains, to the strange and obscure stories of Sankta Ursula, Sankta Maradi, and the Starless Saint.
This beautiful collection includes stunning full-color illustrations of each story. 

As you can probably tell, I will happily buy and read anything Leigh Barudgo writes. She is such a talented writer, and I adore her stories. I was so hesitant about going into The Language of Thorns, yet I adored it. So when I realised this was going to be a similar style of short story collection, I knew I wanted to read it. I also happened to only pick up the Grisha trilogy last year, only a few months before this book was released. The Lives of Saints is referenced a lot in the Grisha trilogy, as a kind of bible, a book that is given to children as they grow up and learn about the saints they worship. In a way, this book reminded me a lot of Aesop’s fables, as they are only incredibly short and all have some kind of moral.

I feel like in a way, Bardugo really has a knack for short story/fairytale type writing. She has a beautiful, poetic way of writing that just fits and works so well with these kinds of books. I saw a review that mentioned these are similar to the kind of writings you get with tarot cards, and I can definitely see where they are coming from. These stories are super short, usually between half a page and no more than 5 pages. This book is already very short, only 120 pages, and with the stories themselves being short too, this went by very quickly and I read it within a couple of hours.

You can choose faith or you can choose fear. 

Most, if not all of these stories are quite sad and tragic, because of the nature of the saints having to die to become, well, saints. However, that doesn’t make all of them depressing or harrowing, and I found quite a lot of them poignant, yet uplifting. The illustrations alongside were absolutely beautiful, and this book as a whole is a gorgeous thing to own. I would like to point out that the ugly blue band on the photo is removable! There is gold foiling underneath and a red clothbound cover.

My main disappointment from this book was the fact I know I will forget these stories so quickly, purely because they are so short. It’s an easy, quick read and a great thing to pick up and read one or two from, but very forgettable. With stories this short, there is just no room for character development, and that was the main factor that made me compare this to The Language of Thorns, which has much longer and fewer fairytales, and I can vaguely remember them, even after a few years.

But only one will bring what you long for.

Overall, this was a sweet idea and I love the concept of it. It’s an absolutely beautiful book and the stories are lyrical and beautiful in their own right, but also a little disappointing as they are so short and I felt a bit disconnected from them.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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