Title: The Devouring Gray
Author: Christine Lynn Herman
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal
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On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…
Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.
When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?
TW/CW: grief, death of a loved one, animal death (brief, off-page), underage drinking and talk of intoxication, gore (mild depiction, on page), murder, rituals and unwilling participants
I read The Devouring Gray last year after hearing Raviv absolutely rave about it. I flew through this one during my first read and really enjoyed what I did read, though as I did read this during my weird 2019 slump. I wanted to give it a reread before finally diving into Deck of Omens.
I sadly didn’t love this reread as much as I loved my first read, though I did still enjoy this story quite a bit.
Sinners who were led astray,
Wandered through the woods one day,
This book follows the teen children of the founding family of this small town in upstate New York. Violet, new to town, discovers that she is descended from one of the founding families and sets out to discover the family secrets that have been kept from her.
We also get perspectives from the children from the other founding families. Jordan is the golden boy in the town. His family, the Hawthornes run the town. Isaac is Jordan’s best friend and is the only Sullivan left in town. Harper is an outcast after failing the ritual to come into her powers and is missing the part of her left arm.
Probably my favorite part of this book was how atmospheric it was. Between the creepy setting of the Gray and the occult themes, this book was absolutely perfect for fall. I really enjoyed the illustrations on the chapter headings in the US edition as it really helped bring the story and atmosphere to life. The audiobook also really helps bring the song of the founder to life and gave me major Diviner’s vibes.
Stumbled right into the Gray,
Never to return.
As far as YA fantasy/paranormal books go, this one was a tad slower-paced than other ones I’ve read, though I thought the pacing worked well overall. I felt like we had enough time with each character to really care about their individual stories and we had some really fun reveals towards the end.
Throughout the story, we follow Violet trying to piece together the mysteries of the town as she doesn’t have family members to tell her the Saunder’s secrets. To figure out more about her family’s ritual and more about her family in general, Violet tries to piece together what she can from the town archives
I really enjoyed how the mystery came together and the weight that some of the bigger choices ended up having. Even with the two huge reveals towards the end of the book, I have no clue where the sequel is going to go. I can’t wait to pick it up though.
Also, I just wanted to applaud this book for all the on-page bi-rep! We had at least 4 characters that are identified on page as being bisexual, which was really great to see.
Hear the lies our gods will tell,
The prison the Four wove so well,
But listen to us when we say,
This was such a fun atmospheric book. I can see fans of The Diviner’s or The Raven Boys really enjoying this one. This was a much slower paced book that really allowed the characters to shine, but kept me turning pages to find out answers to the mysteries. I also adored the occult influences of this book and would totally buy a Deck of Omens if Christine even decides to have one commissioned.
Branches and stones, daggers and bones,
Will meet their judgement day