Goodreads: The Lives of Saints
Series: None; related to Grishaverse
Published: October 6, 2020
Dive into the epic world of international bestselling author Leigh Bardugo with this beautifully illustrated replica of The Lives of Saints, the Istorii Sankt’ya, featuring tales of saints drawn from the beloved novels and beyond. Out of the pages of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, from the hands of Alina Starkov to yours, the Istorii Sankt’ya is a magical keepsake from the Grishaverse.
These tales include miracles and martyrdoms from familiar saints like Sankta Lizabeta of the Roses and Sankt Ilya in Chains, to the strange and obscure stories of Sankta Ursula, Sankta Maradi, and the Starless Saint.
This beautiful collection includes stunning full-color illustrations of each story.
The Lives of Saints is a fun collector’s book for fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse books, featuring short stories about various saints and illustrated with stunning portraits of each one. I use the word “fun” a bit loosely because many of the stories are dark, but they’re intense and interesting and sure to please anyone who likes hagiography or just Bardugo’s writing.
The stories remind me more of Catholic medieval hagiography than of more modern saints’ lives, which means the tales are pretty wild. (The Middles Ages, after all, gave us Saint Guinefort, a greyhound that became venerated as a saint. Strange times.) Each of Bardugo’s stories is short but brings readers on a roller coaster of a ride, showing the saints facing obstacles, performing miracles, achieving the impossible, and ultimately either being revered or condemned.
The fact that so many of them end darkly, with the saints being turned on by the very people they helped, is a nice nod to the fact that the line between sanctity and devilry has always been blurred. One person’s divine miracle is another’s dark magic. On a personal level, I was a bit depressed by it all and felt badly for all these fictional characters who were not appreciated for what they’d done, but I do appreciate how well Bardugo taps into fears around the unknown and around people who might be blessed…or might be cursed.
I did think the book felt a little long. While I found each story interesting individually, there were a couple points where I wondered if I could just get to the end of the book already. I borrowed an e-book from the library and felt compelled to finish it, but if I owned a physical copy, I think I’d be more likely to read a few stories at random here and there and maybe take weeks or months to eventually get to them all.
This is a beautiful book any Grishaverse fan will be pleased to read, but even if you aren’t familiar with the world, I think you can appreciate the strange and magical stories Bardugo has created about these saints.