Monday 2 September 2019

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Review: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman (#Ad)

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

I was sent this review copy for free by Titan Books for the purposes of providing an honest review.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Published: 16th April 2019 | Publisher: Titan Books | Cover Designer: Natasha MacKenzi | Source: Publisher
Christine Lynn Herman's Website

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.
From Goodreads.

Trigger/Content Warnings: This book features physical violence, death, grief, dead bodies, animal death, kidnap, and a cult.

I had been really looking forward to reading The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman! It sounded spooky and eerie, and right up my street! I read it was for fans of Stranger Things and Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand, so I was even more excited to read it! And while it was a good story, it wasn't really anywhere near what I was expecting it to be.

Unfortunately, the tone was off. Or rather, not what I was expecting. I had been wanting to read creepy, atmospheric stories, and this was the third book I read that just wasn't. I might have enjoyed The Devouring Gray more were I not in the mood for something with a lot of atmosphere, and if I wasn't led to believe it was going to be a creepy story. It just wasn't scary at all, and nothing like the tone of Stranger Things or Sawkill Girls. It's an urban fantasy about a strange town, Four Paths, where there is a kind of second reality layered on top, and sometimes it flickers from the normal Four Paths, to the gray, a forest lacking all colour, where a beast was trapped 150 years ago, and is held there by the descendants of the town's founders, who all have powers.

The other thing kind of annoyed me was that nothing major actually happened. There's one event in the middle of the story, and then two later on, and that's it. Most of it is more mystery. The story is told from the  perspectives of Violet, Justin, and Harper. Violet has discovered she's descended from one of the founders, and her power has been woken up - she's a necromancer. However, she won't be able to control her power until she's completed the family ritual - however, her mum remembers nothing about the town's open secret, and her aunt has dementia. She's helped by the other founder children, Justin (and occasionally his sister May) and Isaac, but also Harper, who is at odds with Justin and Isaac after the Hawthorns - Justin's family, the leaders of the town - acted like she doesn't exist since she failed her ritual. But Harper is helping Violet - trying to get her on side, and to not trust the Hawthorns - for her own reasons. Justin is helping partly because he just genuinely wants to help, but also because something needs to be done about the rising body count as people are pulled into the gray, and doesn't feel like his prejudiced mum, the leader and sheriff, is doing enough. If Violet can figure out and complete the ritual, maybe she could help him and the others try to do something about the beast and the gray. And while I was engaged in the story, in the different character dynamics, and shocked by some of the things that happened, I was expecting a lot more. Or rather, a different story.

I liked how queer this books is; Violet and Isaac are both bisexual, and while no label is used, Violet's mum is attracted to men and women, as is another side character. And Harper is disabled, having lost her left arm to the elbow when she failed her ritual.

I really think my not that enthused feelings are down to wrong back at the wrong time. I'm positive I would have loved it were I in a different mood, and were I not misled. Especially as I adore urban fantasy and there's so very little of it being published these days! While this story has a conclusion, there are more revelations at the end. I'm intrigued, and the story was engaging enough that I really want to read where the story goes, and find out more about the truth behind the gray, the beast, and the founders. So I'll definitely be picking up the next book!

While my review isn't overwhelmingly positive, there are others who really enjoyed it, so do read other reviews before deciding whether or not you'll read it.

Thank you to Titan Books for the review copy.

You might also like:

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Over to you graphic
Have you ever read a book where the comps don't make sense? Have you read any recently published urban fantasy that you would recommend? Will you be picking up The Devouring Gray? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Wow the cover on this looks amazing!

    Lotte |

  2. I anticipate this book being a 2019 favourite of mine. I agree that the Stranger Things comp is a bit over the top. I see some of the technical similarities (small town with alternate reality hiding a violent monster) but the atmosphere is very different. I was initially a bit disappointed that it wasn't really scary, but I was so in love with the characters I forgot about that eventually :P