ARC Review: Seven Faceless Saints by M.K. Lobb

Special thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing a digital ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Seven Faceless Saints (Seven Faceless Saints #1)
: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 7 February 2023
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Thriller

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)


In the city of Ombrazia, saints and their disciples rule with terrifying and unjust power, playing favorites while the unfavored struggle to survive.

After her father’s murder at the hands of the Ombrazian military, Rossana Lacertosa is willing to do whatever it takes to dismantle the corrupt system—tapping into her powers as a disciple of Patience, joining the rebellion, and facing the boy who broke her heart. As the youngest captain in the history of Palazzo security, Damian Venturi is expected to be ruthless and strong, and to serve the saints with unquestioning devotion. But three years spent fighting in a never-ending war have left him with deeper scars than he wants to admit… and a fear of confronting the girl he left behind.

Now a murderer stalks Ombrazia’s citizens. As the body count climbs, the Palazzo is all too happy to look the other way—that is, until a disciple becomes the newest victim. With every lead turning into a dead end, Damian and Roz must team up to find the killer, even if it means digging up buried emotions. As they dive into the underbelly of Ombrazia, the pair will discover something more sinister—and far less holy. With darkness closing in and time running out, will they be able to save the city from an evil so powerful that it threatens to destroy everything in its path?

Discover what’s lurking in the shadows in this dark fantasy debut with a murder-mystery twist, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kerri Maniscalco.


Various types of violence (shooting, poisoning, beheading), graphic descriptions of blood/bodies, death of parents/ friends/ siblings, a parent depicted with memory loss/confusion, PTSD and flashbacks, descriptions of war, prejudice, religious intolerance, hallucinations, paranoia, alcoholism, and mentions of self-harm.


Note: I was meant to read this for the blog tour last week until I went on hiatus because I wasn’t reading anything. I’m glad that I finished this book because it was a fantastic debut!

TL;DR: This was a strong YA/NA fantasy thriller debut that I really enjoyed! Unfortunately, I read this during a tumultuous personal time so it took me an uncharacteristically long time to read it; however, I’m 100% certain that if I had read this at any other time, I would’ve flown through it one sitting because it had that unputdownable quality that made me want to keep reading to learn the truth! Though not all the twists were entirely surprising, they did keep me on my toes and eager to see if my theories proved correct. While this story balances being plot and character driven very well, it was the characters who, IMO, made this a great read! I already can’t wait for the next book because I need to know what happens—dark things are definitely coming their way and I’m so keen to see just what it turns out to be.

“They say it rained the day Chaos fell from grace.”

“People killed and died for these saints. These statues. They came here and knelt before them, seeking imagined guidance. Because that was the central fuctino of faith, wasn’t it? To act as a stand-in for one’s own agency. To be pointed to when other explanations faltered.”

This was a fast-paced murder mystery and I really enjoyed Lobb’s writing. It was descriptive enough to get a good sense of the story’s atmosphere and the author did a great job of ramping up the tension as more truths are revealed. It’s set in the city of Ombrazia and there’s a bleakness to it that sets quite an eerie and sombre mood that fits with the oppressiveness of this society where the saints blessed are rewarded and the unfavoured are expendable. I liked the glimpses that we get into the history of Ombrazia, the lore of the seven saints, and the blessings they bestow, but I wanted more. I wouldn’t say it was ‘info dumping’ at the start but the world-building wasn’t consistent and it was very surface-level when we could’ve got more detail about the way the world works and in particular, the magic! I also wasn’t entirely sure if this had a more historical or modern setting as it wasn’t very clear.

“You feel for people, she’d told him mournfully, mere days before she died. That is a skill as powerful as learning how to fire a gun.”

“I don’t take anything seriously, she thought to no one in particular as she slunk around the corner. Not really. And then, an afterthought: Except vengeance.”

Even though I would’ve liked to know more about the world, it didn’t present too much of a problem for me because where the author really excelled was in the characters and their relationships with themselves, each other, and society. Told in alternating perspectives, I love how we really get to understand both Roz and Damian and there is something about the way they’re written that made them feel so real and their connection so personal. While they might not always be entirely likeable, I think they’re both very easy to empathise with and root for.

“Once you have known true grief, you don’t get better. […] You don’t recover—you only grow stronger. You learn to bear the things that seemed unebarable. You find a way to rebuild yourself, even with crucial pieces missing.”

Roz, the more morally grey of the two, presents a much tougher murderous exterior because she wears her anger and grief like a shield around her. She’s not just thirsty for revenge but to dismantle the oppressive system that keeps the unfavoured down. I think her character was pretty straightforward in her motives but I thought Lobb did a fantastic job portraying her journey with grief and coming to terms with the anger and love that she warrs with internally. As much as I liked Roz, it was Damian who I thought was the more nuanced and interesting character with his crisis of faith, his daddy issues, and his PTSD from the war. He’s always been the good devout son who does everything by the book, even when it ends up hurting others. He was admittedly a bit of a drone in the first few chapters but that changes the minute Roz re-enters his frame and he starts to question his belief in the saints, all while he struggles with his actions during the war. He had such a soft and kind (albeit misguided) heart in this bear of a package and I’m a sucker for those kinds of characters!

“The past was the past. What was he to do, then, when the past haunted his present?”

I absolutely LOVED the yin-yang of Roz and Damian’s chemistry. I was constantly wondering if they were gonna kill each other or maybe hug it out. And that’s not to say that their physical chemistry wasn’t there because they had it in spades! They were so well-balanced as she would make him question his unquestioning subservience and he would soften her sharp edges. I really loved these two together and there were moments when my heart was in my throat with worry, and honestly, did the ending of this book really change that? READ THE BOOK TO FIND OUT! 😂 But seriously, they also had so much romantic chemistry! This is peak friends-to-lovers-to-enemies-to-frenemy lovers and if you love a simp, then you’ll definitely love Damian. His simphood energy was off the charts cos he worshipped at the altar of Roz and some of the things he said really had me melting. 🥹 Safe to say, the author has me invested in these two!

“In those moments, in the space between frantic heartbeats, Roz was no longer just his earth. She was his universe, his sun, the atmosphere from which he drew breath.”

Other than these two and their very alive chemistry, there was quite a big cast of side characters from both sides. Sadly, both groups of secondary characters were one-dimensional and interchangeable as nothing about them stood out, especially with Damian’s fellow guards at the palazzo. I think if these characters were a little bit more developed it would help to increase the tension and stakes of the story as there would be more people to care about. As it is now, I don’t particularly care if anything were to happen to them. Overall though, I thought that this was a great debut and I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens next.

M. K. Lobb is a fantasy writer with a love of all things dark— be it literature, humour, or general aesthetic. She grew up in small-town Ontario and studied political science at both the University of Western Ontario and the University of Ottawa. She now lives by the lake with her partner and their cats. When not reading or writing, she can be found at the gym or contemplating the harsh realities of existence.

Her debut novel SEVEN FACELESS SAINTS will be published February 7, 2023 by Little, Brown (Hachette). The sequel, DISCIPLES OF CHAOS, will follow in early 2024. M. K. is represented by Claire Friedman at InkWell Management.

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Have you read Seven Faceless Saints or is it on your TBR?

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