Title: The Deck of Omens
Author: Christine Lynn Herman
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal
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The teenagers of Four Paths must save their home.
Though the Beast is seemingly subdued for now, a new threat looms in Four Paths: a corruption seeping from the Gray into the forest. And with the other Founders preoccupied by their tangled alliances and fraying relationships, only May Hawthorne seems to realize the danger. But saving the town she loves means seeking aid from the person her family despises most–her and Justin’s father.
May’s father isn’t the only newcomer in town–Isaac Sullivan’s older brother has also returned, seeking forgiveness for the role he played in Isaac’s troubled past. But Isaac isn’t ready to let go of his family’s history, especially when that history might hold the key that he and Violet Saunders need to destroy the Gray and the monster within it.
Harper Carlisle isn’t ready to forgive, either. Two devastating betrayals have left her isolated from her family and uncertain who to trust. As the corruption becomes impossible to ignore, Harper must learn to control her newfound powers in order to protect Four Paths. But the only people who can help her do that are the ones who have hurt her the most.
With the veil between the Gray and the town growing ever thinner, all of the Founder descendants must put their grievances with one another aside to stop the corruption and kill the Beast once and for all.
But maybe the monster they truly need to slay has never been the Beast…
TW/CW: grief, talk of removing a loved one from life support, airborne illness, talk of quarantine/evacuating/wearing a face covering, death of a loved one, underage drinking and talk of intoxication, domestic abuse (in past, not described on page), murder, rituals
The Deck of Omens – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Okay, so I have some super mixed feelings about this book.
While most of my reviews are based on my subjective enjoyment of books, for this one I wanted to consider my objective thoughts. I wanted to consider books I enjoyed when I was a teenager and things I found surprising back in the day.
This book takes place shortly after the events of the first book and was incredibly character-driven. This book felt like it dragged at an extremely slow pace as we had 4 large character plots to sort out. While I enjoyed we got as much time we got with the characters, I wish that the pacing of the book moved a bit faster as I did get a bit bored while reading a couple of times.
I did enjoy that we got a bit more from May’s perspective as her power is probably my favorite. I also felt like her motives were the most realistic out of everyones. She struggles a lot with wanting to feel loved and accepted by her family and is trying to find her place amongst the town’s founders. While I don’t agree with every action she made, her decisions felt realistic for her circumstance and for her age.
Harper’s story was so heartbreaking to follow. At the end of the first book, the church members were given the opportunity to have their memories wiped instead of going to jail and Harper’s dad agrees to do this. Because of that, Harper has to deal with learning to control her powers and processing the attempt on her life by her father without having any of her family members to help her.
By this point in the book, Harper and Isaac are competing for who’s been through the most shit and this new development pushed Harper to the top (at least for now).
Isaac’s story was the one I was the most interested in following. In the first book, he’s shrouded with a lot of mystery and I enjoyed that we got some of those mysteries solved during this book. While some of the mysteries that we got revealed in this book felt a bit convoluted, the ones about Isaac’s family actually worked really well and were pretty heartbreaking.
Violet and her mom had a really sweet arc in this book. After the events of book one, they need to rebuild their entire relationship. Watching that throughout this book, improving their communication, rebuilding their trust, and redefining their dynamic was really great to see. There’s also a coming-out scene with Violet and Juniper that was so sweet to read about and was so important to see in a book targeted towards teens.
I adored the conversation the two had about sexuality and the difficulty of coming out – even in a safe and accepting setting. As a bisexual person myself, I really resonated with some of the stuff Violet said about the difficulty of repeatedly coming out to different people.
I try to keep these reviews as spoiler-free as possible, but I need to talk about a few bits of the ending as it’s where a lot of my conflicted feelings lie.
I like that this book/series did the thing where the villain we met in the first book turned out not to actually be the villain. That’s slowly becoming one of my favorite tropes and one of my favorite books of the year ended up doing it. When I figured out this book was doing the same thing, I actually got pretty excited as it was starting to feel like a YA version of the book I read earlier.
Sadly, the reveal as to what was actually going on really flopped for me. It led to some things not really making sense and felt a bit convoluted. Also, I felt like it took the tone of the book from dripping with creepy atmosphere and made it feel a bit…meh.
Also, the reveal in Deck of Omens made the events of Devouring Gray feel like they shouldn’t have happened the way they did, leading me to question the logic of this world a bit.
In the end, as things are starting to wrap up we had a bit of the romance that have been underlying threads during the book start to make it to the forefront. At first, I didn’t love how neatly everyone was pairing up, as I just don’t like endings that are too happy after really dark stuff. In the end, I did enjoy how everything resolved and why the characters made the decisions they did.
Overall this was a solid follow-up to The Devouring Gray. We got some interesting developments with the overall mystery behind the town of Four Paths and a lot of time with the characters. Unfortunately, I really didn’t enjoy the twist in this book as I felt that it made me question plot points and logic from the first book a bit too much, resulting in me checking out of the story. I feel like as a teenager I probably wouldn’t have seen this trope done and would have really enjoyed it, but as a more seasoned reader, I was ultimately let down.
I did enjoy how bisexuality was handled and really enjoyed an on-page coming out scene, as well as all of the queer characters being openly welcomed by their friends and family. I feel like this is so important to have in books for teens and love that we’re getting it more.