Here is a thing everyone wants: A miracle. Here is a thing everyone fears: What it takes to get one.
All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater is the story of miracles. It’s a standalone slice-of-life fantasy book set in the 1960s Colorado desert, and it follows the Soria family and those seeking the miracles the Sorias can provide. As always, Stiefvater delivers beautiful prose and compelling characters.
Most of the book takes place in and around the Sorias home in the desert. The family is known for their ability to work miracles, and they’ve attracted an eclectic bunch of visitors hoping for just that. However, these miracles aren’t ordinary miracles (if there is such a thing). People come to the Sorias wrestling with some sort of inner darkness or personal tragedy. The first stage of a Soria miracle enhances this, forcing the person to come to terms with their problems. The second stage is up to the person to overcome their own challenges, which will heal them. For example, someone unable to deal with the pressure of too much attention might be turned into a giant that people can’t help but stare at.
The Soria family abides by only one rule: Once someone has passed the first miracle, no Soria can speak to them until they pass the second. Breaking this rule can result in horrible consequences for the Sorias.
There are several important characters:
Daniel: Daniel is the current Saint of the Soria family. He’s the one best at performing miracles, and so all the hopeful visitors come to him.
Joaquin: Known as Diablo Diablo in his backyard radio show, Joaquin just wants to be famous.
Beatriz: She tends to like math more than people, even developing a secret math language with her father that’s spoken through whistles.
Pete: Pet road tripped out to Colorado upon learning that he had a hole in his heart, hoping to buy a car and start a new life.
Pete hitchhikes with a man who is traveling to Colorado in search of the miraculous Soria family. When they arrive, no one really knows how to handle Pete. He doesn’t want a miracle, he’s just there because he was promised a car in exchange for labor. Meanwhile, Daniel breaks the only rule the Sorias have and exiles himself to the desert in order to protect the rest of his family from the darkness that fell upon him.
It’s hard to say much more about the plot. Similar to character-driven books like Becky Chambers’ The Wayfarers series, the plot takes a distant back seat to character development.
The pacing is a bit slow at times. If you’re not a fan of character-centric works, this probably will bother you.
However, the prose is excellent. I could gush all day about how wonderful Stiefvater’s prose is and still not do it justice. She doesn’t use flowery language or long descriptive passages, but her sentences are beautiful.
Should You Read This?
If you enjoy magical realism, engaging characters, and fantastic prose, this will probably be an enjoyable read for you. If you prefer books with an engaging plot and quick pace, this might not be for you.
Overall, I felt this was a weaker book than the author’s Raven Cycle series. Even so, I enjoyed it immensely and was somewhat sad that it was only a standalone.
Recommended Beverage Pairing
Café de Olla
- 2 cups water
- 5 tbsp brown sugar
- 4 small cinnamon sticks
- 2 cloves
- A pinch of anise seeds
- 1 orange peel (optional)
- 3 rounded tbsp of Mexican coffee grounds (you can substitute this for your preferred coffee)
- For an iced variation: milk or half and half, ice
- Combine water, sugar, cinnamon, orange peel, cloves, and anise in pot on high.
- Bring to boil, stir, and then turn heat down to medium-low. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Add coffee. Cover and allow to steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain with a fine mesh strainer (or line a large-hole strainer with coffee filters or paper towel.
- Serve with cinnamon stick.
- For an iced variation: pour coffee over ice to chill, add milk or half and half to taste
- Hopeful Fantasy