Title: The Devouring Gray
By: Christine Lynn Herman
Series: The Devouring Gray #1
Publication: April 2nd, 2019
Genre: YA | Fantasy | Paranormal | LGBT+
Buy it: Book Depository
Branches and stones, daggers and bones,
They locked the Beast away.
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.
|| Goodreads ||
“Being invisible when you used to be seen…it’s like being dead, but no one mourns you.”
Diversity/Representation || Queer: Bisexual
This was undoubtedly one of my most anticipated books of this year, so even though I expected a little more, I’m happy to have finally read it. I have so many feelings about it, it’s weird, I’ll try to summarize all the best I can in this review, wish me luck lol. On the one hand, I love and I really get the main idea, I love the paranormal aspects and the characters’ abilities, I think they’re very original, I also enjoy the creepy small-town atmosphere, it’s something I always love and no doubt, it makes you feel that you’re there in some way. On the other hand, I expected to enjoy the writing style a little more, I’m still conflicted about it, but I’ll develop more below and I’m not sure neither about the plot building and the reading paced is extremely slow. I’ll be honest about everything, as always, but in summary, I think it’s a good book and despite everything, I could enjoy it without problems.
The Devouring Gray follows the story about 4 young boys, descendants of Four Paths founders, who were the people responsible for fighting against a fearsome supernatural being, which they locked in another dimension that functions as a prison, called The Gray. Now it’s the new generations’ duty to keep people safe, but something’s happening and more and more people are dying near the dark forests. From here we’ll embark on a journey where we’ll learn more about the town, the family legacies, and the main characters, who at the same time, struggle against themselves.
I think the general idea, as I mentioned before, is absolutely fantastic, engaging and mysterious, that’s why I wanted to read this book in the first place. I know it sounds weird but I feel that this is a book that I wish I’d written, I mean, it’s a brilliant idea because it has infinite paths and different destinations to take, and that makes it uncertain and intriguing. Even so, I think it’s a bit messy and although it has very solid and addictive plot moments, I feel that there are some moments that lose that strength and make it difficult to follow. It jumps a lot between the present and the past, and that’s not usually something that bothers me, but the way in which it’s done in this book, within a chapter in the middle of a scene, without any type of marking, makes it a sharp cut and it becomes confusing. On the other hand, the idea of creating this supernatural being endowed with infinite power that makes and hunts Four Paths’ people, is INCREDIBLE, I loved it. It manages to get into the heads of its victims to weaken them using they worst fear, SO spookily delicious, LOVED IT and that’s why I would have liked to have a little more of it, although I hope to see something more of all this in the following book, for which I’m quite excited.
The characters are pretty good, I think I’ve been able to enjoy them more as a group and following their relationships, than them individually. Even so, are characters that show growth and have a lot of potentials. I like family stories, the powers of each one and explore each of their destinies. I’ll talk briefly about each of these characters to give you a clearer picture of my ideas.
Justin Hawthornes is the typical popular guy and his family is, in the present, the most powerful and the one in charge of put order in town. I liked Justin a little more recently towards the ending, he was a difficult character to decipher for me, especially because in the beginning I feel he was quite the “perfect boy” stereotype, who always cares about others and has no failures, but then he shows more realistic, broken and really honest about his thoughts, and I liked that a lot. In addition, the relation with his mother is very difficult, Justin’s mother is a very powerful woman in town, she’s the Sherrif, her authoritarian character and her brutal control overall, makes it a super complicated relationship, I really felt bad for him and for having a mother capable of doing quite cruel and questionable things. He must also deal with the fact that his powers haven’t manifested after he failed in his family ritual, and because of this, he fears that people will lose respect for him. This is another interesting point to see, especially as it makes Justin evolve as a person. One of the things I enjoyed most about the book was to discover more about his relationship and history with Harper, I don’t know why, but I love them together, their scenes are the most powerful and meaningful. I hope to see more of that in the next book, that would be incredible.
Isaac Sullivan is another son of one of the founding families, and although he does have his powers, I think his life is the most mysterious and incomplete. He’s bisexual, which is always appreciated, especially since I don’t think it’s a secret at all, but he handles it in a relaxed and honest way. Although we can find out that something very bad has happened with his family, we don’t really know what, and after that great ending, I want to know more in the next book. This is another character that was difficult for me to connect with, perhaps because of his arrogant and petulant attitude in the beginning, but towards the ending, I ended up liking it, especially because of the risks he has taken for others and as he has shown that can honestly worry and love others. His relationship with Justin is super interesting and I love the evolution it has since the outcome was something surprising for me, I didn’t see it coming. Even so, he’s a character that I would like to know more about and know a little better.
Now we go with our girls. Violet Saunders is something like the main character in this story since it all starts with her moving to this town with her mother after the death of her sister. I like her character, especially I like to see her when she interacts with others because she has a very honest and good personality. She continues to mourn the death of her sister, and this is something that’s still very sensitive within her, and her relationship with her mother isn’t the best one. Once in Four Paths, they go to live with her aunt, whom Violet has never met and begins to learn a lot of things about her mother’s family that she completely ignores. So in this book, we accompany her on her journey to discover where she comes from and who she really is. She’s also bisexual, and she has a kind of brief moment with Isaac that I enjoyed a lot. But above all, I love the friendship between her and Harper, both are super different but it feels so warm to read their scenes together and then see how they support each other, I loved.
Finally, we have my beautiful, Harper Carlisle, and this is my favorite character of the four, no doubt. I think her family is one of the most interesting, I love their powers, I think they’re super original. Harper has a super difficult past, she was friends with Justin but after she failed in her family ritual to get his powers, everyone turned her back, even him, and now she’s alone and must learn to live with that remorse she still feels towards the Hawthornes family for having rejected her. I love her because despite losing a hand in her ritual and spending traumatic days trapped in The Gray, she doesn’t play the role of the victim, on the contrary, she’s a strong girl and has a lot of courage and determination. I admire a lot how she handled life after having gone through so much and I understand all the pain that still remains inside her. I think this is a journey of acceptance and absolute growth for Harper, she has to live terrible moments and yet she’s so compassionate and warm with Violet and stays there for her, seeing this friendship grow is wonderful. Above all, I love the ending with respect to her and I feel she’s why I’m so excited for the next book.
I love how atmospheric the book feels at all times, it’s absolutely beautiful to read, all those descriptions about the town and the weather, it feels incredible. I like it a lot because it’s also easy to visualize and it feels like you’re there yourself.
Although it’s obvious that there’s one thing happening between a couple of characters, it’s not a book focused on romance, in fact, there’s very little of this happening, which is a breath of fresh air. If you’re looking for a light romance book, this is perfect, in fact, I think it is more focused on family and friendship. It’s also a character-driven story, so there’s not much development of the plot itself, but more of the characters’ lives.
I can see the writing style isn’t bad, but personally, I found it difficult to follow a few times and has made me move very slowly inside the book, there were moments when I wanted to stop reading because I was tired and that’s enough to say. Even so, I think now that I know more about the characters trying the second book will be a good idea to also give another chance to the author’s writing style.
I repeat, even though I’ve had a difficult time with the book, I’m pleased to have read it, it’s a unique idea and I recommend it especially if you’re looking for an atmospheric and mysterious story. I also recommend if you like The Vampire Diaries, Riverdale or Supernatural series, I think it’s a combination of all of them that makes it captivating and easy to visualize. Don’t go for it waiting for a quick read, you should take your time with it but surely you’ll end up enjoying it. The ending was very good, I enjoyed it and I feel that there are many ways and possibilities open for the next book, which I look forward to
Trigger Warnings || Grief, Sacrifice/Cult & Violence