Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary: “Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.
Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.
At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.
They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.” (Summary found on Goodreads).
“I was looking for a miracle, but I got a story instead, and sometimes those are the same thing.”
I actually got to meet Maggie Stiefvater in October, and therefore, this book is signed and addressed to me. It really made the reading experience better to have heard Stiefvater talk about her inspiration and what this book means to her, as the author. I truly loved this book (despite a few flaws) and am so glad I got to meet her.
With that said, I still prefer The Raven Cycle over all else, but I think it’s a given that nothing can usurp that series in my heart. All the Crooked Saints really isn’t anything like her other books, aside from the strangeness and ambiguity. You can’t really go into a Stiefvater book without expecting to come out of it wondering what the heck happened, honestly. I think I forgot that she doesn’t explain anything–ever–because when I finished, I felt as though it were missing something. I wanted answers where there wouldn’t be any to be found.
I’m almost tempted to go back through All the Crooked Saints and look for the symbolism and small hints so I can know why the pilgrim’s miracles acted the way they did to them. I also, rather sadly, wish I could know what would happen if I were to get a miracle from the saint. What’s my inner darkness? And what would it look like unleashed? That whole part of the book fascinated me. I also loved the repetition of “This is what [Insert Character] wanted” and “This is what [Insert Character] feared”, inspiring me to write my own. I absolutely loved this little bit, which carried through the entire book when new characters were introduced.
I loved the characters and their interactions. Though, I think the point of view took away from my ability to connect to them. The perspectives switched so quickly that I felt constantly detached. I loved Beatriz, but I never really got to know her, in my opinion. I think it may have been intentional, but I’ve yet to understand the purpose of doing this. I wish I got to know the characters better, because if I had, I probably would have given this five stars.
This entire novel was so creative, though, and so wonderfully developed. The plot was simple, yet interesting, and never once did I find myself disinterested. The ending was riveting and I was on the edge of my seat. Stiefvater has always written really good endings and this was no exception. It took a bit for the novel to pick up pace, but I find that most of her books have a slow start. Actually, most of her books are slower in general, as though meant to be savored instead of rushed. I love this about her books (though it does kill my Goodreads challenge, which I am currently failing) because it gives them more depth and feeling.
The moral of the story? Don’t go into All the Crooked Saints with expectations. Go into it without knowing anything about it and without comparing it to Stiefvater’s previous works. As well, I recommend reading it even if you don’t like Stiefvater’s books; you may be pleasantly surprised.
“One can never tell what will make one person happy and leave another untouched. Often even the person involved will be surprised by what makes them happy.”