Hey all, Dani here.
There are so many great and dark YA fantasies coming out these days, and I admit that it makes me so happy. I like the complexities and diversity that we are really starting to see in books. My review today is for a book that I picked up on its release day (April 2nd) during an author event. It was awesome to get to listen to the author talk about her book and her writing, and then get my book signed.
Naturally, I made the decision to read the book shortly after. Let’s jump into the review.
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.
Rating: 4 stars
I liked this book. It was interesting and atmospheric, and a lot of it made me think of the small town charm of Mystic Falls in “Vampire Diaries.” It seemed like the heritage of the town and the history of the founding families was well-developed.
But I wasn’t as drawn into this story as a lot of people seem to be. I liked it, but I didn’t feel the obsession towards the characters that I’ve seen so many people post about. There was just something about the writing that made me feel a bit distant from the story, which somewhat lessened my enjoyment.
I would have liked a better introduction to the town and the history and abilities of the founding families. To me it felt like being dropped into the deep end of a pool and flailing to figure out which way to go to find the edge. In some fantasy books–particularly epic fantasies–I’m okay with this; there are still hundreds and hundreds of pages to figure out the characters, the magic, and the world. But this book is only a few hundred pages, and so it feels like I was missing out on so much.
But I still liked the descriptions of the main group’s powers. I liked seeing the revelations and the connections that built and broke as we got deeper into the story. So many people kept secrets or lied or manipulated each other. With all of the betrayals, it makes it difficult to trust people, even as an non-involved party (you know, as we readers are just witnesses to the tale).
So I don’t know if I trust some of them yet, even as they started to make amends or prove themselves late in the story. I’m curious to see what will happen in the conclusion to this duology. Hopefully it will be just as good as this book, if not better.