Maggie Stiefvater is a masterful storyteller. Her latest, All the Crooked Saints, is a wonderful, strangely beautiful story with rich imagery, and a compelling message about the role we play in our own miracles. I think of Maggie’s previous works as having an urgency about them, but this is one that won’t be rushed. In the book, the completion of a miracle happens at its own pace. All the Crooked Saints requires you to linger and savor its mix of folklore, history and science. It’s language is so gorgeous, you’ll want to. 4 stars.
Set in the early ’60s, All the Crooked Saints is about the Soria family and the current set of pilgrims at their place in Bicho Raro, Colorado. The story opens with cousins Joaquin, Beatriz and Daniel (the Saint of Bicho Raro) broadcasting a pirate radio station from a box truck in the middle of the desert. The arrival of two strangers, only one seeking a miracle, sets the story fully in motion.
What I love about that early 60s setting is it evokes a false sense of “when things were simpler,” when radio was still a close second to TV for entertainment, when kids could run around doing whatever they wanted. Of course, for any person of color, the 60s were NOT easier. The book doesn’t get much into the politics of the time except for an oblique reference to interracial dating.
Maggie’s books, particularly since The Scorpio Races, have been YA crossovers for me, in the same way that Harry Potter books aren’t strictly for kids. It’s a big comparison to make, but I came away from All the Crooked Saints with that same feeling of, yes, we’ve checked the box on an entertaining story, but there’s something more complex at work. All the Crooked Saints, with its omnipresent narrator, teaches lessons about overcoming your fears, getting out of ruts, and truly knowing yourself. You’ll get something different from it at 14, 24, or 40.
A real pleasure to read.