REVIEW: The Curse of Saints by Kate Dramis

In The Curse of Saints, the first in a trilogy from debut author Kate Dramis, we are introduced to a kingdom rife with the power of Visya’s; individuals who are blessed with affinities of raw, god-like magic. Visya powers fall under any three categories: Physical Affinities, Elemental Affinities, and Mind, Emotion & Sensation Affinities. Our protagonist, Aya, falls under the last, possessing the power of persuasion. These powers, however, have been bound to never grow strong enough to challenge the Nine Divine, the realm’s gods. In a nearby kingdom, there are rumours of a dark magic arising, threatening to reach Aya’s home. It is this dark magic that sets the plot of the book into motion, where Aya, the Queen’s Spymaster, is forced to investigate this threat alongside her rival Will, the Queen’s Enforcer and Second. It is on this journey that Aya discovers that her affinity is one that spills over the bounds that restrict the Visya, placing her at risk of becoming a weapon in a war she does not know how to win, or  might not necessarily want to.

The Curse of SaintsThe Curse of Saints is built on the foundations of what could have been a solid fantasy novel – a complex magic system, warring kingdoms, vague prophecies and morally grey characters. So, it is a shame that the novel ultimately fails to deliver. The book becomes overwhelmed with all of the fantastical elements it tries to accomplish, slightly skimming the surface but never exploring deep enough into the elements to have a substantial impact. The world-building, in turn, felt incredibly rushed, and so I felt very little connection to the kingdom or the characters.

For instance, we spend some time in the first part of the novel learning that Visya’s have wolf companions that are bonded to them, something that is historically sacred within the religion that rules the realm. We even learn the names of both Aya’s and Will’s bonded wolves, only to never hear of them again. I do hope this is an element that is explored further in the rest of the series as it could definitely result in an intriguing layer to the story, because honestly – who doesn’t love an animal companion?

I did, however, greatly enjoy the political tension that permeates once we reach part two of the novel: Enemies and Allies. In this section, we are introduced to the third point-of-view, Prince Aidon, the heir to the neighbouring kingdom of Trahir. The thread that weaves Aya, Will and Aidon together slowly unravels as the political intrigue arises, whereby each character must question how far they are willing to let their budding friendships last in the greater political game that they have become pawns in.

Ultimately, The Curse of Saints felt overwhelmingly generic. I do, however, feel that the bones of the story have promise. Once it overcomes the awkward characterizations, and we begin to learn more of each individual’s personalities, as well as each kingdom’s politics, I am hopeful that Kate Dramis can steer the story away from the predictability that many recent fantasies find themselves victim to.

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Saberin C

Saberin C

Saberin lives in London and works in publishing. More often than not, you can find her with her nose in a fantasy book or doing whatever it takes to get her cats attention! You can find her on @sabisreading on instagram, where she posts all about her current reads, reviews, fictional fixations and general ramblings on life (with the occasional picture of Kiara, the meanest cat to ever exist).