Title: Painted Devils
Author: Margaret Owen
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
When misfortune strikes, the “reformed” jewel thief Vanja manipulates a remote village for help and in turn, accidentally starts a cult around a Low God, the Scarlet Maiden. Soon after, her nemesis-turned-suitor Emeric and a supervising prefect arrive to investigate the claim of godhood, and she realizes how in over her head she must be. But the Scarlet Maiden does reveal herself . . . only to claim Emeric as her virgin sacrifice. Desperate to save the only man she’s ever cared for, Vanja decides to seek an alternative: bring the Scarlet Maiden a drop of blood from each of seven brothers for the midsummer feast.
While the thief and prefect-in-training still have feelings for one another, Emeric must determine whether Vanja has committed fraud as his final test for prefect-hood. And as they travel the Haarzlands, a harsh land far from the rules of the city, the past that Vanja barely remembers comes into full view and she fears a future that does not require her to keep running.
The amount of snark in this novel is genius-level. I was snickering within two minutes after I started reading. Unlike the previous book, I was invested from the very beginning, and each obstacle the characters met only drew me further into the story. This is a gritty fantasy, not a sweetness-and-light one, but the characters and the world have so much depth that you feel everything they experience. I highly recommend this read and this author.
Margaret Owen lives in Seattle. Painted Devils is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Macmillan Children’s/Henry Holt and Co. in exchange for an honest review.)