Title: Strange Grace
Author: Tessa Gratton
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date: September 18th 2018
Genres: YA Fantasy
Source: ARC received from publisher at ALA convention which did not influence my opinion in any way
My rating: 5 stars
Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? Find out in this lush, atmospheric fantasy novel that entwines love, lies, and sacrifice.
Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil’s Forest.
Only this year, the Slaughter Moon has risen early.
Bound by duty, secrets, and the love they share for one another, Mairwen, a spirited witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a restless outcast, will each have a role to play as the devil demands a body to fill the bargain. But the devil these friends find is not the one they expect, and the lies they uncover will turn their town—and their hearts—inside out.
This book grabbed me from the very beginning and sucked me in. The first day I started reading it on my lunch break, I was already to the point where I didn't want to put it down. From then on, the book continued to draw me in and pull me along with the characters as the things in their traditions started breaking down one by one, and they made the decision that they must do something about it. I could feel each of our three main characters struggle within themselves as they fought not only for who they loved, each other, their town, but also to seek the truth in what the curse or bargain really was.
It was obvious that something had gone wrong with the last sacrifice, because the good luck and prosperity of the village didn't last for a full 7 years before the Slaughter Moon came back. Our heroine Mairwen wonders exactly what was the bargain that was made. Her friend Arthur also wonders just what are they giving up, and what happens to the perfect young man that is sacrificed. Why do some never return, while others are able to make it out? And then there is the perfect Rhun, who is ready to give his life in sacrifice for the good of everyone, or is he really? Will he really want that when he gets into the forest and finds out what the true bargain is?
And when the three of them go into the forest, not in the way it is supposed to happen, they come back out changed, yet missing their full memories of what happened. And I was so frustrated as I read to find out that we weren't going to be taken minute by minute through their time in the forest as a linear story might do. No, the reader gets to "remember" what happened along with the characters, as their memories come bleeding through when triggered by events and people around them.
While the bargain doesn't turn out to be quite what has always been passed down through the years, even then what the whole truth is doesn't get shared till close to the end. At that point there is a character that I thought had something fishy about them all along and you see just how they tie into the story, and the way the bargain is fixed? Well, not sure that is exactly what happens, you'll have to read it yourself to decide and just see what happens.
I really liked that our three main characters have a relationship that includes all of them. It is not a love triangle in that anyone must choose. They all love each other, and they will, in the end, all choose to be together. And I like that the author chooses to show that kind of a relationship.
Once again Gratton has written a book that made me love the characters, and picture a vivid, fascinating and fantastical world.
Now, since this is just a personal review, and not part of a blog tour, I don't usually do an about the author part. However I want to share my picture from getting to see the author again this past weekend. I loved getting to visit with her again, as well as share with her how much I enjoyed this latest book.