Title: Seven Faceless Saints (Seven Faceless Saints Book 1) by M. K. Lobb
Genre: Dark, Fantasy, Young Adult
In the city of Ombrazia, saints and their disciples rule with terrifying and unjust power, playing favorites while the unfavored struggle to survive.
After her father’s murder at the hands of the Ombrazian military, Rossana Lacertosa is willing to do whatever it takes to dismantle the corrupt system—tapping into her powers as a disciple of Patience, joining the rebellion, and facing the boy who broke her heart. As the youngest captain in the history of Palazzo security, Damian Venturi is expected to be ruthless and strong, and to serve the saints with unquestioning devotion. But three years spent fighting in a never-ending war have left him with deeper scars than he wants to admit… and a fear of confronting the girl he left behind.
Now a murderer stalks Ombrazia’s citizens. As the body count climbs, the Palazzo is all too happy to look the other way—that is, until a disciple becomes the newest victim. With every lead turning into a dead end, Damian and Roz must team up to find the killer, even if it means digging up buried emotions. As they dive into the underbelly of Ombrazia, the pair will discover something more sinister—and far less holy. With darkness closing in and time running out, will they be able to save the city from an evil so powerful that it threatens to destroy everything in its path?
Discover what’s lurking in the shadows in this dark fantasy debut with a murder-mystery twist, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kerri Maniscalco.
Content Warning: various types of violence (shooting, poisoning, beheading), graphic descriptions of blood/bodies, death of parents/ friends/ siblings, a parent depicted with memory loss/confusion, PTSD and flashbacks, descriptions of war, prejudice, religious intolerance, hallucinations, paranoia, alcoholism, and mentions of self-harm.
Rating: 3.75 Stars
When I requested to join the blog tour for this book I didn’t know anything about but the stunning cover really drew me in. After reading the synopsis it gave me vibes similar to Nevernight and Stalking Jack the Ripper and I couldn’t wait to get into it. The opening to Seven Faceless Saints was interesting as it seems to combine classic high fantasy with a murder mystery element. While the religion and political aspects don’t make much sense right now that will come later, right now what I know if that the world is divided into disciples and non-disciples. The disciples are those born with the gift of the saints and they are treated as more important than the regular people. Damian is a regular tasked with investigating the murder of a disciple but he has no idea how it happened. We also learn that the country is involved in its second war which Damian was a part of but he is suffering from PTSD. He also had a relationship with Roz but after she presented as a disciple and Damian was shipped off as a soldier they haven’t spoken at all.
Seven Faceless Saints was giving me Nevernight vibes and despite the issues I have with that series I really liked the comparison especially in how Lobb and Kristoff’s worlds are based on real world places and are completely vivid in their descriptions. The saints and disciples issue was also becoming clearer for me as I understand it the disciples are those born with a percentage of their ancestor’s power and their abilities are the backbone of the economy of Ombrazia so they are favoured while the non-gifted like Damian are used a fodder in the war against the heretics, those who following the fallen Seventh Saint, Chaos. Roz was a really interesting character to follow as she is a disciple but presented late and she isn’t happy with her role as she carries around a lot of anger. However, due to their past relationship and the current murder Damian is investigating the pair are thrown together all over again and I couldn’t wait to see how it played it.
Roz and Damian are attempting to work together in order to solve the murder of the disciple but their relationship is emotional whiplash to get through as they bounce back and forth between detachment and lust for each other similar to Ash and Mia’s relationship in Godsgrave. The way Lobb handled dialogue and tone is emotionally scenes was something that took getting used to as it isn’t a style I have experience with but when you finally settle into the switching between POV’s and emotions you see the contrasts between the characters and it really pushed the character development to another level for me as you get to know these characters on a very personally level and from the detached perspectives of other characters as well. Essentially you get to see how they view themselves and how other people see them and the crossover of these two ideas which was an amazing move from the author.
I was loving Roz as a character because she had the hardness and determination that I loved in Mia Covere but unlike with Mia we are meant to side with Roz although there are times where the author makes us question this decision because all these characters harbours regrets, anger and the desire for revenge although it presents in different way. Damian was a nice counter to Roz as he sees himself as a failure and many others do as well because of his lack of abilities and because he suffers PTSD from his time in the war. It was nice to see the strong female with the more emotionally fragile male character than the other way around but Damian was a little frustrating at times as you wanted him to stand up for himself or others and he repeatedly backed down so it was nice to see Roz step into this role as she holds more weight in this society anyway.
One issues I did have with the book was the religious commentary which I felt was a little over the top but I understand the direction Lobb is looking to take the series later on so I pushed through those moments. Obviously as this is the beginning of a series, the action mainly centres around the murder mystery element but I can see Lobb setting up a fall from faith arc for Damian and maybe a finding faith arc for Roz which would parallel and support each other perfectly. I did also want more from the saints and how their powers came to passed on and things like that were kind of glossed over in this book. Nevernight did the same thing in the first book but there was a lot more world development in the second book especially around the religious and political systems and I hope Lobb follows Kristoff example in that aspect of their writing. Overall, Seven Faceless Saints was a decent start to the series and I am looking forward to seeing what Lobb does with the series and how they make this series stand out from the multitude of other high fantasy books.
About the Author:
M. K. Lobb is a fantasy writer with a love of all things dark— be it literature, humour, or general aesthetic. She grew up in small-town Ontario and studied political science at both the University of Western Ontario and the University of Ottawa. She now lives by the lake with her partner and their cats. When not reading or writing, she can be found at the gym or contemplating the harsh realities of existence.
Her debut novel SEVEN FACELESS SAINTS will be published February 7, 2023 by Little, Brown (Hachette). The sequel, DISCIPLES OF CHAOS, will follow in early 2024. M. K. is represented by Claire Friedman at InkWell Management.
Author Links: Website Twitter Instagram Goodreads
Book Links: Goodreads Amazon Barnes & Noble Book Depository Indigo IndieBound
I received this review copy from TBR and Beyond Tours.