[Goodreads] 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.
I gave this book 5 ⭐
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman is a rather unique fantasy story. It’s set in Four Paths, a small town nestled deep into the woods that hides terrible secrets of powers and monsters.
The plot is very straightforward and I don’t have that much to say about it, to be honest. This is a character-driven story – and oh boy, these characters are just fantastic. The story follows three main characters and a few secondary characters that later in the second book get a POV chapter as well.
My favorite was Violet, without a doubt. She’s so strong and a clever, creative character. Violet has really been struggling with overwhelming grief and pain since her sister Rosie’s death. She feels alone, with her efficient, organized seemingly-unfeeling mother, and moving to a completely different town is only making her feel worse.
Harper wasn’t my favorite but I can really appreciate that kind of inner strength and the way she overcame obstacles. Harper has been completely ignored and scorned by the whole town since she failed to achieve what everyone was expecting of her and it’s been excruciating for her – to just lose respect, love and to be suddenly so completely alone. The thing I didn’t like about Harper was that she was so blinded by her anger that she didn’t see things were wrong until it was happening right in front of her.
Justin is like the town’s beloved founder who can do no wrong – but he’s hiding the fact that he failed his ritual – and he feels so guilty about that and about what happened with Harper; as well as burdened with expectations and a strong desire to help and protect the town. He was kind of a typical character, but I kind of liked him anyway, he had a good heart.
Justin’s mother is an important secondary character. Augusta Hawthorne has been running the town with an iron fist and good intentions despite all her mistakes and somewhat nasty personality – but she’s one of the biggest antagonists anyway. (And she has such a bad relationship with her kids.) I don’t know if I like her or not, to be honest, but she’s a very realistic character and I just appreciate that in a book.
Isaac’s a bit of mystery in this book. He’s a destructive, traumatized kid with a bad temper and he’s in a lot of pain (and I just wanted to hug him). He and Violet are my favorite characters, but we don’t learn that much about Isaac until the second book (where he’s one of the main characters with a POV).
I also love how much this book focuses on the different family dynamics. Violet’s seemingly broken, The Hawthorne’s complicated relationship with their mother, the mystery behind the Sullivan’s family disappearance, the surprising truth behind the Carlisle’s… The relationships between all of these characters are very complicated from years of pain and power struggles between their families but Violet’s arrival in town really affects them in a really good way, I think.
The writing is amazing, it really makes you feel the eerie atmosphere and all the gut-wrenching emotions. One of the best writing styles at conveying emotion I’ve ever encountered. Also, I really liked this quote:
“She thought about heroes, and villains, and legends, and monsters. And decided that whoever told the story was more powerful than all of them.”
Overall, The Devouring Gray is an amazing book and I’m really glad I took longer to read it the second time around I noticed even more details. I strongly recommend it!
I’m currently reading the second book, The Deck of Omens, and already some of the questions I had after TDG are being answered but I’m not quite loving it as much so far. I’m only halfway through with it, though, so a lot may yet happen…