review of the six deaths of the saint

A Review of The Six Deaths of The Saint by Alix E. Harrow

📖 GenreFantasy, Adult, Short Story
📃 Number of Pages36 pages
🪴 Average Goodreads Rating4.33⭐
🌻 My Rating5⭐

What is The Six Deaths of The Saint About?

The Six Deaths of The Saint by Alix E. Harrow is a short story about a dying girl saved by The Saint of War and sent the Prince to be his holy warrior.

I have made the terrible mistake of reading The Six Deaths of The Saint right before sleep. I saw it was only thirty pages long and thought — why not? Let me tell you, it was not a good decision. I spent half the night thinking about it and the other half dreaming of being stuck in a similar situation as the main character. 

But do I regret it? No, not at all. 

Because The Six Deaths of The Saint is the perfect fantasy short story. 

Within its short thirty pages, you’ll find epic romance, an excellent character arc, themes of love, death, belonging, yearning to be a part of something, identity and so much more. It will grab you, alter your brain chemistry, and leave you thinking about it for a long time after you’re done with it. Or it’s done with you. (I think the latter is more accurate)

Now, I’m not particularly surprised that a short story is able to do this. The length of a novel has very little to do with its quality. In fact, I find myself bored with 500+ page fantasy novels because they often waffle about — showcasing the author’s world or adding fluff. Which is fine if you like that sort of thing, but when I read, I want the story, and I want the characters. I want the themes explored with some semblance of precision. 

Short stories are more often than not better at all of these things than full-length novels are. And The Six Deaths of The Saint is an exceptional example. 

It wastes no words. It’s completely purified of unnecessary details. 

It’s told in a second-person point of view which is incredibly hard to pull off, and pull off well. We follow our heroine as she goes from a dying girl, to an incredible warrior, to a legend, then a saint. She changes so much and we see it through scenes and elements that are the same every time — same, only different because of her reaction to them. We see her grow to understand herself and the world around her. 

Next to her, always, is her faithful squire — at first, nothing more than a nuisance, but so important to her all the while. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it many times again — a romance doesn’t have to be spicy or overly dramatic to be great. This is an excellent example. The Six Deaths of The Saint does what books like The Fourth Wing couldn’t (at least for me) in only a few lines of dialogue. 

“He doesn’t move or speak, but he doesn’t need to. I know his desires by the pace of his breath and the tilt of his shoulders, by the shape of his jaw and the heat of his gaze. I know him, and in knowing him I love him, and in loving him I cannot do as he wishes.”

Another thing that I really liked — and this might be a little spoilery, but — the main character is never named, and neither is the Prince. Which ties in so nicely to the last sentence of the story and gives it another layer of cyclical storytelling. 

All in all, I highly recommend reading it. It will take you like fifteen minutes but you’ll be charmed for life. The best way to go into it, in my opinion, is to go in blind — that way, you’ll be able to properly enjoy all of the twists and turns (hence the sparse synopsis at the top). I wish I could get a physical copy of this little book because it would definitely be shelved among my favorites

I’ve also heard somewhere that this short story was written as a sort of test for a full-length novel, but I hope that isn’t true. I don’t believe it would work as a longer piece of work — or at least, it wouldn’t work as well as it does here. 

“That I have lived and killed and lived again in the name of a man who does not deserve it because I wanted so badly to be beloved. But only one person in all my lives has ever loved me, and he does not wear a crown.”

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