Strange Grace

by Tessa Gratton

4 of 5 stars 1 rating • 1 review • 19 shelved
Book cover for Strange Grace

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Strange Grace

by Tessa Gratton

4 of 5 stars 1 rating • 1 review • 19 shelved
"Gloriously dark and romantic." -Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen
"An alluring and seductive fairy tale." -Justina Ireland, New York Times bestselling author of Dread Nation
"Horrifying, heartbreaking, and heartwarming, a lush fairy tale rooted in a moral quandary." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"An eerie, consuming tale of sacrifice and faith. Haunting and unique." -Booklist
"Evocative." -BCCB

Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? Find out in this lush, atmospheric fantasy novel that entwines love, lies, and sacrifice.

Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil's Forest.

Only this year, the Slaughter Moon has risen early.

Bound by duty, secrets, and the love they share for one another, Mairwen, a spirited witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a restless outcast, will each have a role to play as the devil demands a body to fill the bargain. But the devil these friends find is not the one they expect, and the lies they uncover will turn their town-and their hearts-inside out.
  • ISBN10 1534402098
  • ISBN13 9781534402096
  • Publish Date 1 November 2019 (first published 18 September 2018)
  • Publish Status Active
  • Publish Country US
  • Imprint Simon & Schuster
  • Edition Reprint
  • Format Paperback (US Trade)
  • Pages 416
  • Language English

Reviews

Avatar for kalventure

kalventure 4 of 5 stars
This is such a weird and beautiful book. Friends, I am struggling to find the words to articulate how much I adored this book. While the premise of a hundreds-year old pacts that provide prosperity to a town in return for sacrifice isn't new, I found Strange Grace to be refreshing and captivatingly written and is one of the best witch stories I've ever read.

Three Graces is an idyllic town: there is no disease, the weather is perfect, injuries heal overnight, and crops grow in abundance. Provided that the bargain is upheld every seven years on the Slaughter Moon, everyone is safe. Everyone except for the town's best boy, who volunteers for the honor of being named the next saint and ensuring that the bargain continues. Everything has gone smoothly for two hundred years, but something is wrong with the bargain and the Slaughter Moon has come four years early.
He will live or die on his own mettle, and for his sacrifice the devil blesses Three Graces.
The book is told in the alternating perspectives of our three main characters, each of whom are tied inextricably to the bargain as well as each other. Their love for one another, as well as their town, is absolutely endearing.

Mairwen Grace is the daughter of a Grace witch and a saint
Arthur Couch was raised as a girl, Lyn, because his mother didn't want him to be named saint and run for the bargain:"to have a son in Three Graces was to live in terrible fear". Unfortunately his secret was discovered, and has made himself hard to prove his "manliness" to the town, wanting to be named the saint but no one really taking him seriously.
Rhun Sayer comes from a line of two saints and has almost been raised with the expectation of his fate, to the point that he assumed that he has no future after his run. He is good, pure, and kind -- just the characteristics that would make him the best boy and saint.

This ways that the book tackles the society's expectations of gender is nuanced, from Arthur's genderfluid identity to the gender reversal of the "sacrificial lamb." Three Graces is not without its gender roles, and it was heartbreaking to watch Arthur struggle to fit into either of the worlds but falling in-between. My favorite character is by far Arthur - watching his arc and coming into himself was such a breath of fresh air. I struggled a bit with his homophobia early in the book, but that was as much about himself than a product of the society - there are a number of queer relationships in this book, including a polyamorous one, and the representation is heartwarming.

I truly adore books where both the plot and characters drive the story forward, and I can say that this is the case here! The characters bring a heart to the story and humanizes it, but the lore of Three Graces and the bargain are interesting on their own. The prose gripped me, the characters tugged at my heartstrings, and the plot had me devouring the words - I read this book in one day because I was absolutely engrossed by it. I do wish that the magic system was explained a bit more; we do not learn how it works or what the limits are. We know that the female descendants of the original Grace sisters inherit the practice, but I wish it had been fleshed out a little more! If it is knowledge passed down to the daughters in the lineage, then I don't really buy the "your heart is different" explanation about her pull to the forest because she is essentially the same as everyone else; got to love the Chosen One trope in action, although this isn't too overt and in your face.

Gratton's writing is poetic, descriptive, and absolutely captivating. The characters are full of life and each experience development, and I truly enjoyed reading each of the perspectives. Often times multiple perspectives wind up being jumbled, but the way that the story develops it just flowed. Melanie said that reading this book is like reading a lucid dream and I cannot think of a better way to describe it. It's weird, and you will likely be a bit confused in the beginning with the character relationships, but I sure you will settle in and fall in love.

Overall, Strange Grace is an amazing atmospheric and poetically written story that celebrates the found family, the love people feel for one another, and the sacrifices they are willing to make for the people they love. I totally wholeheartedly recommend this book and I hope that you pick it up.

cw: animal death, bullying, death of a parent, gore, human sacrifice

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me an electronic advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Quotations taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon final publication. Strange Grace will be released on September 18, 2018.