by Tessa Gratton (Goodreads Author)
I actually really dug Gratton’s United States of Asgard contemporary fantasy/romance (based on Nordic Myths) giving 5 stars to the first book, The Lost Sun.
So I was eager to try a more traditional fairy-tale like fantasy, picking up Strange Grace rather than the more marketed Queens of Innis Lear (might try that one later).
This is very dreamy fantasy. Kind of Brenna Yovanoff or Laini Taylor or Katharine Arden feeling to the YA POVs with a fairy tale kind of feeling. Strange Grace is ostensibly about a trio of young adults in the village of Three Graces set on the edge of the Devil’s forest. The village enjoys amazing health and prosperity because every seven years they send their “best boy” into the forest as a kind of sacrifice.
This year, its obvious to everyone that Rhun Sayers will be the ‘best boy’, despite him hanging around with the snappish, cranky outsider Arthur and the daughter of the village’s Grace witch, Mairwen. Things move very, very slowly. This book is about bathing in a morass of YA angsty feelings caught up in what sacrifice means and how it affects those you love.
It’s also about the secrets of the Devil Forest (although the specific details of what goes on there and how it all works with magic are frustratingly opaque even at the end) and what the village has been willing to ignore all these years for their good health/wealth.
And it’s about love that doesn’t fit into normal boxes by the standard of the village, having alot to do with gender identity.
So its beautiful and moving and magical, but its very, very, slow, covering alot of the same emotional ground at times. Gratton is so very good at exposing angsty adolescent emotions and handling questioning of one’s identity with care. That is what i loved about the Asgard series, the HEA’s are not guaranteed in the usual fairy tale way. But this one fell a little short in gelling together as a story.