Strange Grace

After a bit of a slow and somewhat confusing start, I ended up really liking this book.  I wanted to read it for several reasons (sounded interesting, I like the fantasy genre, and it had good reviews) but the main reason was I heard that it featured some non-binary and polyamorous characters.  It is VERY rare to see this type of representation in books, especially young adult stories.   Honestly, my favorite parts of the book involved the relationship between the 3 main characters, Mairwen, Rhun, and Arthur.  What happens in the forest was interesting but I was more curious about the dynamic between them and the other villagers.

Many years ago, a witch made a pact with the Devil to always protect the villagers of Three Graces from harm and to keep them prosperous.  The deal?  Every seven years during the Slaughter Moon, they have to send a young man into the forest for sacrifice.  They can try and survive the night and return to the village but most have been lost to the Devil.  It has been 4 years since the last sacrifice but the Slaughter Moon is rising early and the town must decide what to do.  Do they send another young man to the Devil or try and bring an end to the bargain?  Mairwen (a witch), Rhun (the presumed sacrifice), and Arthur (the town pariah) must make decisions beyond their years and quickly before the Devil strikes.

Things I liked about the book:  It was filled with rich imagery and beautiful language and there were some great lines such as: “I fell in love with the forest. And the forest loved me back. And so we traded hearts. Mine is here, larger and stronger than it could have been in the small cavern of my body.”  There were several passages that I had to read twice so I could enjoy the words again. The fairytale aspect was also very thought out and unique.  The story was sufficiently creepy without being too scary and had enough of a mystery that kept me reading to the end.

Things I loved about the book:  The relationship between Mair, Rhun, and Arthur in general and the character of Arthur specifically.  My heart belonged to Arthur throughout the story and I thought Tessa Gratton did a great job writing a non-binary character, even though that is not how he is described in the book.  The villagers don’t label him a certain way—he’s just Arthur (even though they treat him differently, it’s not because of his gender identity or sexuality).  The same goes for the unorthodox relationship between the 3 protagonists—no one really cares that they are all in love with each other.  That’s not to say that the villagers aren’t judgmental about other things, it’s just that there are bigger things to worry about LIKE THE DEVIL.

Things I didn’t like about the book:  The magic seemed to be all over the place and I had a hard time understanding how Mairwen and her mom were able to do the things they did.  While I did enjoy the twist, I saw it coming (at least a part of it) and wasn’t as shocked as I think I was supposed to be.   The time spent in the forest was also confusing and I still feel like I don’t fully understand what happened.

Overall, I liked this book and feel it deserves my 4 star rating…but it was SUPER close to being a 4.5 or even 5 star book.  Most of the issues I had were about the plot and the building of the world but I loved the characters and would have enjoyed seeing more of their relationship before and after the events of the book.

Author:  Tessa Gratton

Published:  2018

Rating: 4 Stars

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