The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman – REVIEW
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.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Titan Books.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
*** Content warnings can be found here. ***
“Maybe the thing no one had told her about growing up was that nobody ever really became the person they’d wanted to be.”
The finished copy I received from the publisher has the most gorgeous pink sprayed edges and they complement the cover perfectly. I wanted to read this book after seeing it compared to Pretty Little Liars and Riverdale, and it’s easy to see where these comparisons come from. To me, it felt more like The Vampire Diaries TV series though and I could see this making a great show in a similar vein. My favourite aspect was the deliciously creepy setting of Four Paths, a small town surrounded by macabre woods harbouring a murderous beast. The increasing sense of dread permeating Four Paths combined with the small town secrets enhanced the wonderfully atmospheric writing.
“People could hurt each other without being monsters. And they could love each other without being saints.”
The complex characters were well-written, with fleshed-out histories and satisfying emotional development. The cast was diverse and I appreciated how subtle the romance elements were. Romantic attraction between the characters was present but it simply underlay the main action rather than driving it. Now we know the characters fairly well, I’d like to see some of these feelings explored further in the next book. I was also intrigued by some of the parents, especially Augusta who was such a morally ambiguous character, and I hope more of their histories are revealed. I’ve read a few reviews criticising the POV jumping but I felt it worked and was necessary to the plot and character development.
“She thought about heroes, and villains, and legends, and monsters. And decided that whoever told the story was more powerful than all of them.”
Another criticism I’ve seen mentioned is the slow-burning plot. This is an entirely personal preference but I sometimes enjoy a plot that builds very gradually, slowly layering up and constructing a firm foundation. The lyrically descriptive writing style was another positive for me and I lingered over each page to savour the imagery. This is the first in a duology which is a relief after that cliffhanger; for some reason, I’d thought this was a standalone. Overall I loved this spooky YA contemporary fantasy with its creepy plot and fantastic cast of characters.