Book Reviews

Review: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

There were so many elements I really liked about The Devouring Gray – the parent/child relationships, a few of the main characters, and the eerieness – but there was just something intangible keeping me from enjoying this even more.

Summary

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.

Review

(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The Devouring Gray is one of those books where I can list elements that I enjoyed, but the combination of them was a little like a disjointed gear in a machine I should love. That’s a bad metaphor. Maybe more like a few elements being off in a dish that has truffles so I should love it, but there’s something holding me back. In a nutshell, I really appreciated Violet’s struggle with grief, her relationship with her mother, Harper’s sword lessons, the queer rep (two MC who are bisexual) how fast paced the book was.

But at the end of the day, the other elements I expected I would love fell short for me – the multiple perspective, the eeriness, and some of the character development. I’m not sure if some of these issues will be developed in the next book – as far as increasing the creepiness factor and developing some characters I’d like to see more of – like Isaac. But it’s a story I enjoyed, but was hoping for a little more.

Grief & Characters

As I mentioned, one of my favorite aspects of the book was the relationship between Violet and her mother. It’s full of unspoken silences and the gulf you cannot cross when you’re absorbed in your grief. This relationship, while it was one of my favorites, develops slowly and I hope in the next book it really gets the chance to bloom.

Even though I am a huge fan of multiple perspectives, for some reason in The Devouring Gray I wasn’t as much of a fan as I expected. For me I think it’s because I didn’t get to spend enough time with the characters and for the most part of the book it’s a lot of secrets as we are thrown right in the middle of the conflict. At the beginning I was almost stumbling while running to get a better sense of the magical elements in the world.

Because of that, I didn’t have those immediate connections to the rest of the characters. There were elements I appreciated – Justin’s duty to his family, Harper’s anger towards Justin, and Isaac’s loyalty – I didn’t form as strong a connection as I would have liked. And I ended up really liking Isaac and his struggles with this power and family, but it was only developed further at the end.

Eeriness & Story

I was also searching for more eeriness in The Devouring Gray. I am the biggest scaredy cat, but from the cover and the comp titles I was expecting a lot more. That being said, it seemed to jump the line between being eerie and not eerie enough at certain points in the book.

One of the things I enjoyed were the familial relationships: siblings, parents, and more. There’s so much wrapped up with family – duty, loyalty, fear, and manipulation – and believe me, this story has it all. There are secrets before page one as we become fully and quickly immersed in a town that has been manipulating each other for generations. I especially liked the relationship between May and Justin – and hope to see that further explored in book two. This book takes a hard look at the secrets and skeletons we have in our closet and just how far we will go to keep them.

Overall

The Devouring Gray is one of those books which didn’t live up to the hype for me. That being said, it’s not a bad book, it just didn’t hook me as much as I would have liked. I’m looking forward to see what book two has in store because I think it has the potential to answer a lot of questions and concerns I have. It’s a book that looks at falling for the wrong person, hoping we’ll be wrong, seeing how we are changed by loss, by grief, and by those we love who are stolen from us. And with that ending, I am definitely intrigued.

Find The Devouring Gray on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.

Discussion

Leave all your eerie book recs below! I really love The Hollow Girl (TW in my review), The November Girl, and The Dark Beneath the Ice


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