Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Book Review: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Devouring Gray
Author: Christine Lynn Herman
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: Hardcover; 368
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy stories that are dark and atmospheric.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Branches and stones, daggers and bones,
They locked the Beast away.

After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn't: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.

Justin Hawthorne's bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray—a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family's powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can't let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn't yet know.

The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families' abilities—before the Gray devours them all.

I don't know, I think that Young Adult books and I are in kind of a rut right now. There's not anything inherently wrong with The Devouring Gray. It's dark, and brooding. In fact, the first few chapters actually had me firmly in their clutches with the build up of the founders and the dark secrets that they kept. It's really not difficult for me to fall for a story that has monsters in it, whether supernatural or of the people persuasion, so this should have been a book that I genuinely loved. Alas, it was not.

To be fair, the truth is that for the most part I did really enjoy this story. Herman can write, that's for darn sure. Reading this story was like getting lost in a lyrical version of some foggy, haunted woods. A tiny town, filled with secrets, and constantly covered in overcast weather is my kind of setting. Every sentence felt expertly placed and, impressively, even the large cast of characters felt like they fit in perfectly. I'm normally not a fan of large casts of characters, but this was right on the money. There's a great diversity here, down to a realistic bi-sexual representation. There's even some great notes on friendship, relationships, and that weird space in between, which I appreciated.

So what was lacking for me? I think this book moved more slowly than I would have liked. Violet did a lot of brooding, and a lot of learning, that probably could have been condensed down to far less pages. My other issue was that after a while Isaac felt like the only real character in the whole book. Everyone else was so caught up in trying to prove something, or trying to change someone, that they started to become caricatures of themselves. Events started to feel trite, and I essentially figured out the big reveal before it happened. It was a gradual thing, but I started to feel like this was turning into every other story out there like this that I had read. I didn't have enough investment in anyone (except maybe Isaac) and that hurt my love of this story.

Perhaps I just need a small break away from YA. Perhaps this story was too like ones that I had read before. What I do know is that The Devouring Gray is definitely going to be a story that the majority of you out there are actually going to enjoy, despite my qualms. So if you're looking for a dark and atmospheric story that has Stranger Things vibes? This should be your next read.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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