Review – The Saint by Tiffany Reisz
To fully maximize your enjoyment of The Saint by Tiffany Reisz, there are a few things you should know first.
1. The Saint is the first of Tiffany’s prequel quartet called The White Years. The original four books (The Siren, The Angel, The Prince and The Mistress) are the Red Years.
2. The Saint is gorgeously written, but there are tons of little easter eggs in there for fans who’ve devoured The Red Years. You can still enjoy the lushness and prose that is The Saint, but you’ll be a bit lost. And you won’t appreciate nearly half the jokes and bits of info thrown your way. So my best advice: read The Red Years. They’ll be the best four books you’ll read all lifetime.
3. The Saint is unlike anything I’ve ever read, and it may be unlike anything you’ve ever read, too. Which is awesome. Go in with an open mind and open heart. Don’t try to peg it as a romance or women’s fic or anything so neat and tidy. What I love most about Tiffany’s writing is that the stories don’t fit in any one category; she writes for the sake of the story and let’s it go where it needs to, not for the sake of the market. Think of it this way: Imagine the most perfect red rose. Now imagine the petals are spiked with fine-edged razors. That’s what The Saint is like.
Now, with those prefaces in mind, let’s get to the review.
The Saint by Tiffany Reisz is, quite simply, one of the most suspenseful books I’ve ever read, even though there’s no real mystery to the story. It’s not like you’re reading a Harlan Coben book, where the whole point of the narrative is to figure out who dunnit and why. Tiffany’s The Saint employs a different tactic…she doesn’t use the plot as her forward momentum (though there is great pacing with her plot); rather, she uses her characters. They come to us at first like the most beautifully, intricately wrapped present. And you’re squealing and giggling in delight at what could possibly be inside. So you tear off the bow and rip off the paper only to find…another box, just as gorgeously wrapped, maybe even more so. And you dive into that present only to find…another box. Over and over. The frenzy of needing to know what’s coming next, of finally getting to the bottom of things, is one of the greatest feelings ever when reading a book, and you get it with this one. That expression, “can’t turn the pages fast enough”? It’s not hyperbole when it comes to The Saint. It doesn’t help that Tiffany pretty much gives us two presents and then tells us we can only look at, not touch, the second present. Not until the very very very very end. Ooooh but what an end. What a payoff.
“What’s your topic?”
“The theology of pain and suffering in the letters of Saint Ignatius.”
“Is that as boring as it sounds?”
“It needs a better title.”
“Better than ‘The theology of pain and suffering in the letters of Saint Ignatius’?”
“How about ‘Hurts So God.’ It’s a riff on that John Cougar song ‘Hurts So Good’.”
Soren rested his chin on top of the nearest pile of books and narrowed his eyes at her.
“Your mind must be the most marvelous playground.”
“I think my mental swing sets are rusty.”
“We should fix that.”
And that friends, is the sort of writing you can expect in The Saint. There is just something so funny, yet so to the point about it. Remember in English Lit classes or college writing courses, your teacher would say to make each scene, paragraph, and word count? Tiffany does that. And her words are so darn entertaining that it’s like the technique of the prose is almost invisible. (Which is a good thing. I find the most cumbersome writing to be writing that tries too much to be writing. Know what I mean?) Seriously, just read the above again. You have humor, which hugely reveals a very important trait in a very important character. You have lines that hint at another character’s intelligence while at the same time showcasing his own dry wit. And then you have that great end line, that perfect button. We should fix that. How??????? As a reader, that’s all I kept asking myself during The Saint. (I also asked when a lot. You’ll understand when you read it.) 🙂 . Then, as a bonus, the entire dialogue exchange feeds into the greater theme of the entire story – which, when you read the book, will amuse and delight you.
Of course, I can’t talk about a Tiffany Reisz book without mentioning her toe-curling love and sex scenes. I differentiate the two because while Tiffany does write an amazing slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am sex scene, full of all sorts of xxx-rated visuals, she also writes the most amazing love scenes. I love them because they’re just so…important! Firstly, they always matter to the story. Secondly, they always reveal character, and thirdly, they’re never stilted or awkward. Not saying her characters don’t sometimes feel awkward, but Tiffany’s writing never is. I once read a contemporary erotica and the sex scenes all felt weirdly unsexy. Sort of unhygenic, too. I remember this one line where the guy says, in throes of passion, “I love your asshole!” Uh….okay.
But Tiffany’s sex/love scenes…they’re just what I said they are, but also so entertaining and so unique! Which makes sense, considering her characters are so entertaining and so unique. I really can’t describe how Tiffany writes a great sex/love scene, but just take my word for it and read The Red Years and then read the Saint. You’ll understand perfectly then. Be warned: every chapter she writes is like great foreplay. 🙂
All in all, The Saint is one to have on your Kindle, have on your bookshelf, give to friends, and sing its praises to strangers. You don’t have to do all that, mind you. But you’ll want to. Tiffany Reisz has created an intoxicating world and filled it with intoxicating creatures, both light and dark, beguiling and brutal. This is a story – a series – you won’t want to miss. The Saint is on its way. Thank God.