The rumors borne across the empire by pilgrims are full of wild talk about Dorian, a boy with a flute reputed to have come from somewhere beyond the world in order to combat great evil. His followers are already calling him Saint Dorian. When word of the boy with the flute spreads as far as the remote mountain monastery where the young monk Bartholomew serves in the honored position of librarian, he astonishes his fellow monks by placing his faith in vague, contradictory rumors and declaring himself a follower of Dorian. Before the winter snows cut off the monastery from the rest of the empire, he makes a clandestine departure from the only home he has ever known in order to devote himself to the child saint.
–from the blurb about Saint Dorian and the Witch
Yet when he arrives at his journey’s end, and Bartholomew is about to fulfill his destined role in Dorian’s plans, it suddenly seems to him that his proper place is not among Dorian’s followers but on the other side, as an ally to the child saint’s enemies and a rebel against heaven.
A massive thank you to Michael Raship for providing me with a digital copy for review!
Honestly, when I started reading this book, I didn’t think I’d love it quite as much as I did. But it really blew me away! Of course, it was a given that I’d enjoy it to some degree; it’s a fantasy novel about rebels, after all. Plus, the character arc hinted at in the blurb definitely intrigued me from the start. Still, I’d consider this a book that surprised me!
But keep reading my review of Saint Dorian and the Witch to find out what, exactly, I loved about this book.
The best thing about this book was definitely the world-building. Raship put so much detail into so many different aspects of this fictional world. The main religion had an incredible amount of care put into its history, its rules, and its stories. But so did the ideas and stories of the smaller, “heretical” religion Bartholomew finds himself joining.
Obviously, since most of the plot centered around these two belief systems, having that kind of detail was really important. And Raship definitely delivered!
Additionally, Bartholomew was the perfect character for this. Sometimes, when authors try to give readers information about a fictional world through the thoughts and words of the characters, it can feel forced. But because Bartholomew was a librarian, his extensive knowledge of the world made sense. In short, it felt very natural. And that definitely increased my enjoyment of the story as a whole.
Moving on from world-building, though, the plot of this book was excellent. It had so many different surprising twists and turns, and I was entranced the entire time. I loved how Bartholomew’s character arc was tied in with the events of the plot; he was a great character, in general, but his change over the course of the story was great. It was fascinating to watch how his perspective changed throughout his journey.
Though, to be fair, I just generally loved Raship’s presentation of different perspectives all throughout the novel. I love that Bartholomew didn’t start out as a rebel, but became one because of his experiences. Obviously, there are plenty of other books that show that same progression in their characters, but I feel that Raship did a particularly good job of writing about that change.
All things considered, I recommend reading this one! With the backdrop of a stunning world that’ll take your breath away and genuinely brilliantly written characters, Saint Dorian and the Witch is an excellent book. Honestly, I have so much more I want to say about it, but I didn’t want to make the review too long and bore you!
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