Publisher: Margaret McElderry Books
Release date: September 18th, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, LGBT+
Goodreads rating: 3.85Goodreads summary:
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.
I want to thank Tessa Gratton, for writing this breathtaking novel, as well as the publisher, Simon & Schuster, and Edelweiss, who provided me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All quotes were taken from an advanced reader’s copy and may be subject to change.
“That is what the bargain is: death for life, a sacrifice that makes it all sweeter and sharper. Without it, how could we appreciate what we have? We love our saint, and he runs for us, and everyone here knows exactly how precious life is, and love itself. Everybody dies, Mairwen, but the saints of Three Graces die for a reason.”
Strange Grace is dark and eerie in the best way possible; it’s a novel as strange as the title suggests and I loved every page! The concept alone is so unique: there’s a village called Three Graces, in which no one gets sick and the plants grow and only those of old age might die — what’s the downside?, you might ask. Well, the villagers made a deal with the devil and once every seven years, when the Slaughter Moon rises, a young man, the best of all the villagers, has to go into the Devil’s Forest as a sacrifice.
Tessa Gratton tells this story mainly through three POVs: there’s Mairwen, the Grace witch whose ancestor fell in love with the Devil and made a deal with him; there’s Rhun, the boy everyone expects to be the next saint; and then there’s Arthur, angry Arthur, who feels like an outsider and is somewhere in between (he was my favourite. Honestly, I would die for Arthur Couch).
“Oh, Arthur Couch. There is no way to win. It is a sacrifice, not a game. It must be done for love.”
Arthur’s anger is so hard to watch, though: he’s filled with fire, with rage and desperation. I’m sorry for him, for how he doesn’t know who he is and longs for a version he could’ve been, if things had been different. How he wants to be the best, but feels like he is never enough (for some reason, Arthur Couch reminds me a lot of Adam Parrish; generally Strange Grace reminds me of a very dark version of The Raven Cycle and I love it!) The dynamics between the three protagonists are actually what I liked most in this book — they just love each other so much and it’s beautiful!!!
Also, the writing. It’s so lovely and filled with magic and it makes the whole world Tessa Gratton crafted in this book truly come to life. If you enjoy lyrical writing, you are going to fall in love with Strange Grace, I promise you that! The world-building overall is excellent! There are witches and devils and a creepy af forest (it reminded me of Uprooted, so if you like that one, you should give Strange Grace a try for sure!). What’s not to like?
Lastly, I want to say how much I love Tessa Gratton for all the rep there is in this book. The main couple is in a polyamorous relationship, something I’ve never seen before in a book, and it is brilliantly done. Like, above I said they all love each other so much — and I mean, they really do! There’s bi and gay representation, a f/f relationship and a non-binary main character. And I’m pretty sure that Rhun and his family are black.
“This valley is made on love, little bird. Find love. Seek it, always. That is where our power resides.”
All in all, I just fell completely in love with this book. Tessa Gratton’s beautiful writing style, the character dynamics and just the world itself pulled me under their spell and I think I just found a new favourite author! I love the message of the story: that magic is tied to sacrifice but even more to love. And I think this is a book that just gets better and better the more often you read it and I’m sure I’ll do just that! I will be honest, though: till the last page I didn’t know how to rate this book, 4 or 5 stars, but the ending was so perfect and everything I hoped for and I just knew that it deserved the best rating there is!