Maggie Stiefvater’s All the Crooked Saints is a book about miracles, but these miracles do not come easily. The Soria family is capable of performing miracles that draw out the darkness within a person, giving it physical shape, so that their clients can figure out how to dispel it. Reading this book immediately inspired me to ask the question “what would my darkness look like?” and I spent a long period of time trying and failing to figure it out, and now, reading this, you can spend a perhaps equally long period of time wondering about yourself. You’re welcome.
In honor of this failed quest, here are some particularly interesting forms that darkness takes within the book.
Honestly, if this happened to me I’d probably just keep them as long as they didn’t interfere with the functioning of my hands, because having dragon scales would be epic. Anyway, since this particular darkness belongs to a baby, and I, alas, do not remember what being a baby is like, I cannot say what this means.
This form of darkness interests me because of its connection to Greek mythology. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths (my main source of mythology as a child, and therefore where most of my information comes from) describes the incident as follows: a nymph named Echo distracts the goddess Hera by making a lot of small talk and prevents her from finding her husband, Zeus, having an affair with another nymph. As vengeance, Hera curses her so that she can only repeat what other people are saying. I do not believe that the owner of this darkness, Jennie, insulted a goddess, but the myth and her situation might still be connected. Echo falls in love with Narcissus, who withers away while he pines after his own reflection. Perhaps Jennie pursued a man who didn’t love her as well, drifting after him like a shadow and relying on his words and actions to define herself rather than her own. Perhaps Jennie was just a huge gossip. Still, the connection between the darkness and myths makes me wonder if there could be other that follow the same pattern. Greek mythology is full of material.
This one’s probably about beauty standards, so I feel obliged to comment. Beauty standards are constructed and vary around the world. They become problematic when they set impossible standards, or because the system is set so that people who don’t match it are punished. Whoever has received this darkness has probably let these standards get in their head, and ends up forcibly in a situation where they must learn to discount it. Honestly, it seems kind of cruel that whoever this person is must deal with an issue thrust upon them by other people, but I suppose, magic or not, a lot of people have to deal with this, as well as other arbitrary, painful rules society decides to set.
This one sounds more like a superpower than a form of darkness (especially given that sweet, sweet irony), but I suppose if you can’t turn it off than it might become an issue. You’d probably have to accept being everyone’s human flashlight, for one thing, and depending on how bright you are, everyone who spends time with you might have to invest in sunglasses. As for who the person with this darkness could be, I feel like radiance would draw a lot of attention, so perhaps this darkness’s owner needs to discover that constant attention is not something that’s necessary. (Yes, I’m an introvert, so perhaps this is an incorrect statement) I suppose it could be a literal issue with light or darkness, a demonstration that this person has the capability to push back the night, or a sort of exposure therapy to constant light. It’s hard to say.
If the radiance one is confusing, this one is even more confusing to me. Perhaps the various forms of darkness do not all correlate directly with problems their owners face, or maybe this person just really liked birds. Unlike the dragon scales one, I’m not sure I would want feathers. What would it feel like? Would they itch? Perhaps the meaning of the darkness lies in potential itching, though I’m really not sure what that would accomplish.
This one sounds like something out of a horror movie, which is why I am adding it to the list. What would the shadows be like? Are they meant to inspire fear, or would it be like having a bunch of pets that go everywhere with you? Maybe the point of the darkness is to demonstrate to their owner that they’re never alone (in a good way), and the darkness’s owner needs to realize that they are there to be supportive rather than threatening. Or maybe they’re just threatening. It’s hard to say.