A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ruthless Gods is the second book in Emily A. Duncan's Something Dark and Holy trilogy. After the dramatic end to Wicked Saints, uneasy allies Nadya, Serefin, and Malachiasz leave Tranavia with their friends for the forests of Kalyazin, where they unwittingly become pawns in a dangerous battle between forces more ancient than the gods they do and don't believe in. There are positive messages about loyalty and doing what's best for the majority, but characters are flawed and hurt others, though they are doing their best to survive an increasingly complicated and chaotic journey. Bloody scenes of violence involve blood magic, daggers, swords, and crossbows. A primary character nearly dies after being attacked by a monster, and an important minor character is killed. Romance doesn't extend beyond a few steamy kisses, and language is mild with just a few uses of "s--t" and "f--k."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When RUTHLESS GODS opens, Nadya has been forsaken by her gods, Malachiasz has betrayed Nadya and abandoned his humanity, while Serefin is haunted by voices seeking to control him. Cleric, monster, and king head deep into a Kalyazin forest full of ancient creatures, hidden menace, and mysterious temples as they continue their quest to end the war. Each comes to believe that killing one of the others is the only way to bring peace, which necessarily complicates their friendships and alliance. The voices drive Serefin toward madness, but he finds some solace in a new romantic interest, while Nadya and Malachiasz continue their doomed but steamy romance. The explosive ending answers some questions and opens up many more to scrutiny; perfect fodder for the final book in the trilogy.
Is it any good?
Ominous yet beautiful and populated by ever more absorbing characters, this second volume offers an increasingly interesting world to inhabit. Whether readers come to Ruthless Gods for the romance, the gothic world, or the immersive fantasy, they're sure to find all that and more in this well-executed follow-up to Wicked Saints. The world-building gets fleshed out, especially its underlying Slavic-inspired mythology, which is complex but rarely confusing. In the morally confounding mess their lives have become, Nadya, Malachiasz, and Serefin, as well as their stalwart friends Parijahan, Rashid, Ostiya, and Kacper, are all trying to understand who they are and how to make good decisions -- concerns that will feel familiar to many teen readers. We get to know all these characters more deeply as the story is told from their alternating perspectives.
There are some blips with repeated words or over-the-top language, but these are easy to forget amid the witty dialogue, compelling characters, and high-stakes action. With an explosive ending that raises more questions than it answers, fans will surely flock to the final book in the series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the morally complicated choices the characters face in Ruthless Gods. Can a person be both good and evil? How might Nadya, Malachiasz, and Serefin answer this question?
Did you feel the violence in Book 2 was more or less intense? What affect does all the blood and gore have on you as a reader?
Talk about the two main romantic subplots. What was surprising, exciting, or complicated about them? How could you support a friend in a toxic relationship?
- Author: Emily A. Duncan
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Wednesday Books
- Publication date: February 10, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 544
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 12, 2020
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