Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all?
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.
**** Thank you to Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review ****
Trigger Warnings: Transphobia, Homophobia, & Child and Animal Death
This was a very unique story I’ll give it that, however, there was just something missing here. I felt like the execution was a little lacking and….strange at times. It’s a very interesting book and I did like a lot of aspects of it but it just felt a little all over the place just like my thoughts are on it!
I think the idea behind this book is excellent and once I read the synopsis I was head over heels for it. It started out fairly strong with interesting happenings and decent pacing, however, the second half of the book was just painfully slow and by the end of the book I was pretty much over it. The beginning was building up towards a climax that never happened, I was pretty disappointed by the lack of a climax. It was like we spent so much time building up to something only to get nothing. However, it was very atmospheric and the writing is actually really good, but I just had a hard time getting past the slow pacing.
The world itself is very fascinating, but once again not as fleshed out as I wanted it to be. A little bit of the Slaughter Moon ritual is explained but by the end of the book I felt nothing was explained to my satisfaction, I still don’t get why a lot of the things happened. I mean there’s magic in the world but I don’t GET any of it, this is just a personal preference for me since I really need things explained in order to enjoy it more. On top of the lacking world building I felt the plot itself was sort of messy. Just thinking about the book my brain is kind of all over the place trying to figure out what the heck I just finished reading.
Apart from that I did enjoy how unique the story was overall and it wasn’t very predictable. Definitely a book that breaks away from overused YA plot lines, that’s for sure.
“Strange Grace” is told through mainly three alternating POVs though at times there is an extra or two. I did enjoy each character’s POV and I did enjoy the characters for the most part, but at the same time I just felt they weren’t developed enough in their voices (their POVs) for me to really care about them. They just didn’t show enough emotion for me to understand them and their motives more.
What I did like though was the diverse characters and relationships shown: Arthur is gender fluid/ non-binary (please correct me if I’m wrong!), there’s a secret F/F romance between two side characters, Rhun is a POC as well as homosexual (even though I think biromantic applies too since he truly cares about Mairwen as well), and Mairwen is bi/pan. I loved all of the representation we got to see in this book!
This is another aspect of the book that was a little harder for me to follow because it was so tangled up. There’s a bit of a love triangle between the main three characters and I’m still not quite sure which characters loved each other romantically in the end. However, they all loved each other in a very familial way and it was amazing to read about how willing they all were to do whatever it took to keep each other safe.
What I Loved:
- Unique plot
- Good writing and atmosphere
- World building was interesting but lacking
- Diverse cast of characters featuring POC and LGTBQ+ characters
What I Didn’t Love:
- Slow pacing
- Anti-climatic plot (no climax)
- Needed more developed world building
- Not enough explanation overall
- Plot was kind of messy and hard to follow
- Characters weren’t fleshed out enough
- Tangled web of romantic/friend relationships
Overall this is a hard book to recommend for me since it was interesting but not all that great at the same time. I would say if the synopsis sounds good to you give it a try but maybe go into it with lowered expectations. This book certainly won’t be for everyone, I would say if you can handle slow pacing it might be an intriguing read!