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Strange Grace

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“Gloriously dark and romantic.” —Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen
“An alluring and seductive fairy tale.” —Justina Ireland, New York Times bestselling author of Dread Nation
“Horrifying, heartbreaking, and heartwarming, a lush fairy tale rooted in a moral quandary.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“An eerie, consuming tale of sacrifice and faith. Haunting and unique.” — Booklist
“Evocative.” — BCCB

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 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.

417 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 18, 2018

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About the author

Tessa Gratton

69 books1,832 followers
Tessa Gratton is the author of adult and YA SFF novels and short stories that have been translated into twenty-two languages, nominated twice for the Otherwise Award, and several have been Junior Library Guild Selections. Her most recent novels are the dark queer fairy tales Strange Grace and Night Shine, and queer the Shakespeare retelling Lady Hotspur. Her upcoming work includes the YA fantasy Chaos and Flame (2023), and novels of Star Wars: The High Republic. Though she has lived all over the world, she currently resides at the edge of the Kansas prairie with her wife. Queer, nonbinary, she/any.

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Profile Image for Melanie.
1,176 reviews98.9k followers
August 27, 2021

ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“I fell in love with the forest. And the forest loved me back. And so we traded hearts. Mine is here, larger and stronger than it could have been in the small cavern of my body”

I’ve read over one-hundred books so far in 2018, and Strange Grace is easily my absolute favorite. And I anticipate that it will be my favorite book of 2018 come December 31st, too. What a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Literally perfection. A true gift to the literary world. Friends, if you’re looking for a spooky book, with a dark fairy-tale vibe, that heavily talks about society's gender expectations, while being a love letter to gender fluidity, with the most heartwarming polyamorous relationship, look no further than this masterpiece.

“The old god and the youngest Grace witch. The story says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all?”

In Three Graces, no harm comes to anyone. Babies are born safe, and parents deliver in less pain. Crops are perfect and produce an abundance. Animals never get sick. People heal from cuts overnight and broken bones in a few days. This village is magical, and the community is able to thrive without fear, except for one thing. That one thing? Oh, the devil in the forest that surrounds the village.

Long ago, there were three witches. And the youngest one fell in love with the devil in the village and chose to give him her heart. And together, they made a deal. Every seventh year, when the slaughter moon comes, and the red from the Bone Tree releases, the best boy from the village will run into the forest, willing to sacrifice his life to protect his village for another seven years.

Except this year, the forest is requesting another boy, even though the village should be safe for another three years. The village has to come together and decide what to do. Should they sacrifice their newest best boy, in hopes that the devil that dwells in the forest will accept the offering?

“He was bold and powerful, beautiful and dangerous, but he loved the first Grace witch, and it was from that love the bargain blossomed. This valley is made on love, little bird. Find love. Seek it, always. That is where our power resides.”

We get to follow three characters, who all are tied to the sacrifices by just being born. We get to watch them deal with the safety of their village being removed, and we get to see how each reacts. And they are willing to rise up, they are ready to fight, but they are also so very willing to sacrifice.

Mairwen - White, half witch (from her mother), half saint (from her father that was sacrificed while her mother was pregnant), but wholly called to the forest. The youngest witch, and maybe the most powerful. And shares her heart with two people, and one best friend, that make up her entire universe.

“She is a piece of the wild forest: tangled vines of hair; beautiful dress torn and heavy at the hem with mud and water; insistent, dangerous eyes; lips parted; cheeks flushed. An ax loose in one hand like she’s the vengeful spirit in a terrible story.”

Arthur - White, was raised as a girl, because his mother couldn’t bear the thought of him being sacrificed, but the secret came out. And Arthur has felt trapped between the two worlds ever since, while wishing people could understand that there is more than just two genders. Yet, Arthur feels the need to prove themself as the best boy in the village, not just for the rest of the men to see, but to save the true best boy.

“Nobody can change who he is except for himself, not any saint ritual, not an ignorant, terrified town, not a night spent in the forest, not a dress or a kiss”

Rhun - Black, and the boy that completes this beautiful triad. Good, pure, kind, caring, and truly, above all else, the best boy in the village. But his goodness made it so that he was always literally raised for the slaughter.

“If love can protect anybody, it will protect Rhun Sayer.”

And these three have completely captured my soul and I’ve never shipped or loved a fictional relationship more. This story is a masterpiece, the discussions are life changing, and the writing feels like it comes from some sort of higher-power and/or magical deity. I promise you all, this story is now embedded in my very DNA. If you could only pick up one book that I recommend in 2018, please have it be Strange Grace.

Gender roles and the constructs that every society places on them is a constant theme in this book. Arthur’s character is so wonderful, and even though it was painful at times, was such a breath of fresh air to read about. We get to see Arthur feel ostracized from “girl things” but also never being able to fit in with the “boy things”, and we get to see Arthur realize how toxic that way of thinking truly is.

“What hurt him was the rule change. Being forced out of girlhood into boyhood, as if it were only an either/ or, as if to make any other choice was unnatural.”

And in general, the sexual representation is amazing. Like, everyone in this book is queer. Mairwen states attraction to different/no genders, obviously Rhun and Arthur are attracted to different/no genders, Arthur is (in my opinion) non-binary, Mairwen’s mom has a woman partner; this book has a whole lot of gay. And you all know how much the polyamorous rep meant to me, and how much I was living for it, while turning every page of this book. And I’m just going to pretend like they are all pansexual and go to sleep with a smile on my face each night. Thanks.

“It’s fear. Not of the devil, but fear of change. Fear of doing anything different that might cause a ripple and bring it all down. Fear of a little boy in a dress, because he didn’t fit into the structure of town, the rules. There was never anything wrong with Arthur.”

And this entire book is a love letter to found families everywhere. Mairwen, Rhun, and Arthur have created something so beautiful and their friendship is honestly goals. Unconditional love is always at the forefront of their relationship and of this story. And this entire book feels like a bright light that celebrates that the family you create and choose will always be superior than the once you are born into without any saying. Also, I haven’t talked about her yet, but Haf, Mairwen’s other best friend, is the sweetest soul in the book. I loved her. I’m happy the town believe in their misogynistic hearts that they had to sacrifice only their best boys, instead of their best human, because Haf is truly the best character in Three Graces. Like, I would totally sacrifice myself for her, Mairween, Rhun, and Arthur. Like, I’m walking into the forest now, because I love them all so much. Bye.

“I love you,” [...] “Both of you, and all of you. Hold on to my heart and I’ll be fine.”

And I honestly feel like, somehow, this forest crept into my home and crept into me. This was so spooky and so atmospheric, but I couldn’t put it down. No matter how scary or how dark it got; I was so completely addicted. Some of these passages left me feeling like I was on my own alter, deep in the forest, chest open, ribs cracked, leaving my heart bared for all to see. Yeah, that good. I don’t have words.

I truly believe that sometimes you just completely connect with an author’s writing and it will wholeheartedly teleport you into that story. I read the anthology Three Sides of a Heart , and I fell so completely hard for Tessa Gratton’s writing. I always pick a favorite short story in anthologies, but normally it’s a hard choice, yet Tessa made that anthology’s pick so easy. And then I fell in love with another short story by her in All Out, and I knew I had to read a full-length book from this author. And friends, it was like picking a book up for the first and time and realize that power that books can hold. Tessa’s writing is on another tier all by itself, and I am still, days later, left in awe of it. If you like lyrical writing, with captivating stories that are completely transportive, you need to give Strange Grace a read. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

But this being said, I went into Strange Grace only expecting good writing and nothing more. But I can’t believe I found probably the best book of 2018. And this might be the best written book I’ve ever read in my entire life. I honestly had goosebumps while read at least 75% of this book. And even though this is a dark and spooky read, those goosebumps where completely from Tessa Gratton’s writing completely piercing my soul.

“You can break it all, or remake it.”

Overall, I recommend this with my heart and soul. Not only is this probably going to be my favorite book of 2018, it also has the best polyamorous relationship I’ve read ever. I’m not sure my heart has ever beat so fast, broken so painfully, or warmed so much, for any fictional relationship. The woods, the writing, the spell this book placed on me, it’s like nothing I’ve ever experience. Please, friend, pick this book up. Not only is it going to make the perfect autumnal read, it just feels like the book of my heart. Thank you so much, Tessa, for this once in a lifetime book that I’ll cherish forever.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for animal death, bullying, trauma, grief, murder, torture, human sacrifice, abandonment, and just in general, this is a spooky book that I would for sure classify as horror. Please use caution, friends.

Buddy read with Candance at Literary Dust & Lilly at Lair of Books! ❤

My amazing friend, Taylor, got me this book signed for my birthday, and then Tessa posted on Twitter a picture of her actually signing it, and I'm a soft and weak fangirl mess:
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,097 reviews17.7k followers
August 6, 2020
“This valley is made on love, little bird. Find love. Seek it, always. That is where our power resides.”

In the town of Three Graces, no one is ever injured or killed. To achieve this, the town must sacrifice a boy every seven years — but this year, the sacrifice comes early. Following an angry boy, a saint, and a witch, this book is a weird and magical journey.

→the good stuff←
I memed in this

First of all, god, you guys, the body horror. The tone that feels like a blend of 1300s witchcraft and modern-day horror movies. I absolutely adored how the creepiness of this situation was played up. I also adored the writing. I feel like this would be great for fans of The Raven Cycle, with its weird magical tone.

Perhaps more importantly, the three leads are great.
✔Arthur – constantly in gender questioning hell. retweets memes about mean costumers. is the mean costumer.
✔Rhun – the nicest person in the whole fucking world and I love him. said something bitter once and Mair and Arthur both keep the receipts in their phone. not all men? you’re right. Rhun Sayer would never do this
✔Mairwen – a witch. probably runs one of those your-fave-is-a-witch blogs. hates her emotions but hates terrible men more. proud thirsty bitch

The story focuses, in a big part, on the poly relationship between the three of them, and I really really liked that [although I did want more; I talked about this down below]. Also, an iconic queer trio; Rhun is black and bi/pan, Arthur is also bi/pan and probably nonbinary, Mair is also implied to be bi/pan.

→the bad stuff←
oh boy.

The worldbuilding around homophobia was a bit confusing? So, this world comes off as non-homophobic… most of the time. There are several explicitly bi/pan side and main characters, including Arthur, Rhun, and Mairwen’s mother; both Mairwen and Haf read as sapphic; the narrative seemingly treats it as a very normalized thing. But this society also has incredibly strict gender roles and a lot of transphobia, and moreover, the characters react as if this world is at the very least transphobic. As none of the characters seem to explicitly align themselves with queer identity in any way, and the world seemingly treats it as normal most of the time, it feels… idk, as if the author didn’t want a homophobic world, but didn’t know how to write a non-homophobic world? Which then reads like simple lack of acknowledgement.

A major plot point of this story is that Arthur, who is AMAB, was forced to dress as a girl as a kid, and then it was realized that “he was a boy” via him stripping when he was about eight. He reads as being nonbinary, at least to me, but as this isn’t explicit text, it could very easily read as a book about a cis boy suffering from transphobia. I felt this was well handled for what it was, but… I don’t know.

SPOILER ALERT: I really wish I had known going in that the only major sapphic relationship ends in death. The bury your gays trope, a trope I have discussed at length on my blog, is very prominent in both current literature and current television. And killing off one member of a happy relationship between women is the #1 iteration in current tv. So despite the fact that there’s a lot of queer rep in this story, this didn’t sit right with me at all.

The main problem I had is the structure. Moreover, the first act of the story is really, really long, extending 40% into the book, and is framed like a buildup to a climax - but then we see nothing of the climax. There’s just a time-jump, and suddenly we’re past the forest. It’s an odd instance of a buildup with no release and it was frustrating.

The plot, in general, goes a little all over the place? There are a couple instances of side characters having one pov chapter that doesn’t say very much, and then never having a pov chapter again. Several side plot threads seem like they go nowhere, or maybe they're not meant to be plot threads? Several very unnecessary and/or underutilized side characters.

Oh, another thing is that all of the interesting stuff in this story is told in subtext, which means none of the characters really ever come to terms with their own problems or more importantly, the reality of their three-person relationship. There are literally multiple moments that go like this:
Rhun: I kissed Arthur
Mair: silence ft. barely any fucking internal monologue
Like, I’m sorry, but where. are. these. characters. mentally. You can’t just tell me they’re all in love and have that be the end, I have to know how their actual dynamic works!! Three people being in love does not an actually healthy relationship make. And the moment where they discuss this, the release of tension, again, does not ever come.

I will also fully admit to having the most emotions about Rhun and Arthur’s relationship. I really liked the dynamic between Rhun and Mairwen; however, they’re an established relationship, and I never really got a sense of tension between them? And I’m just going to be honest, the relationship between Mairwen and Arthur was half-assed. They talked, like, once.

And as the relationship between the three characters really has no ending, I really struggled with the seemingly lacking connection between the plot and the characters. the most interesting elements of this novel feel pushed to the side by a plot I really struggled to care about. It’s a decent plot for a novel, don’t get me wrong, but when the main arc of the novel — the three of them forming a relationship — does not tie into the main plot at all, the book feels incoherent.

So… overall, I guess you could say I had mixed feelings. Considering I just shouted for three pages on this google doc.

further reading:
Marija's relatable three-star review
Melanie's fantastic five-star review

Arc received from the publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review. [ releases: Sep 18th 2018.]

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Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,607 reviews10.8k followers
December 27, 2022
**3.5-stars rounded up**

Admittedly, I am bewildered by this book.

Gratton has provided plenty of food for thought. Trust me, it's a lot to unpack.

The story itself, although beautifully written, is very dense and heavy. I feel like I am still struggling to get out from under the weight of it to gather my thoughts.

I even annotated, thinking that would help. Looking back over portions I flagged, I do like a lot of what was going on.

A few itemized thoughts:

1. The exploration of friendship and the different levels and types of love that can develop from that. I thought that concept was really well done. Probably some of the best I have ever read.

2.The exploration of gender and gender roles was interesting as well. Gratton went a lot deeper than I think a lot of YA Fantasy would typically go.

3. I enjoyed the creation of an all new dark fairy tale, but at times felt it went too far in trying to create that.

Overdone is the term I keep coming back to, but UGH, seriously, I am so torn because I did really enjoy it!

So, yeah. I guess what I am trying to get across by this is that basically this book has sent me into a existential tailspin that I am struggling to get out of.

Am I being overly dramatic about it? Maybe but honestly...

Side Note:

Please tell me I am not the only one who got major The Village by M. Night Shyamalan vibes from this? Seriously...

I kept expecting Mair to just walk right out of that damn forest and into modern day Philadelphia or something. I feel like this could be translated really well into movie form and I have no doubt it would be a horror movie!
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,749 reviews5,290 followers
November 3, 2019
I have a lot of feelings about this book. Strange Grace has been one of my most anticipated 2018 releases all year—I love these dark, witchy fantasy stories, and as soon as I saw Tessa mention it on her twitter back at the start of the year, I wanted to pre-order it right then and there. All the build-up leading to finally reading this twisted little story is precisely why this review is so difficult for me to write.

They made this bargain with the devil: Every seven years their best boy is sent into the forest from sundown to sunrise, on the night of the Slaughter Moon. He will live or die on his own mettle, and for his sacrifice the devil blesses Three Graces.

First, let’s talk about some pros. This book makes for a fantastic fall read, especially if you’re looking for something involving witchcraft, dark magic, and those oldschool occult vibes with lots of nature spellwork, charms, bone magic, blood working, etc. The entire mood of this book felt to me like it could have been filmed on the set of the film The VVitch, is what I’m getting at here—and that’s a good thing. I adored the aesthetic, and loved most of the actual representation of the Grace witches’ magic—especially the fact that each witch performed different types of crafts, such as Mairwen’s bone and blood magic, while her mother preferred healing crafts and charms.

Later, when the sun fills the valley, a shadow stirs. It is a slinking thing, powerful and hungry. It lifts fingers of bone and root from the forest floor, cradling the tiny doll.

There’s also a creeping dread and terror to the entire forest that is executed phenomenally. We start with this explanation of why everyone is terrified of the woods even during the 7 years in between the Slaughter Moon rituals, and the way the woods call to Mairwen and the Grace witches before her makes it feel as though the forest is this thinking, sentient creature all on its own. I was immediately intrigued by the setting and was ecstatic when we finally got to explore it a bit further, learning about the creatures within and the secrets the woods have been hiding.

She wishes to step inside. Longs to explore, to discover the forest’s secrets. But her mother has said, again and again, Grace witches do not return from the forest. We all hear the call, eventually, and walk inside forever. My mother did, and hers before that. You were born with the call, baby bird, because of your daddy, and must resist.

On the negative side of things, however, the magic doesn’t feel explored enough—there are bits thrown in that rely on the reader having pre-existing knowledge, and I think a lot of readers will wonder why certain things are being done (like the blood magic, weaving bones into clothing, etc.). As it stands, it sometimes felt like it was being thrown in just for “witchy vibes” appeal (but take me with a grain of salt here, as I may just be taking things a bit too personally).

He misses her with a simple ache that wakes him up at night. He doesn’t know if he’s in love with her or if he wants to set her on fire.

The characters were also a source of internal conflict from start to finish: I loved them so much and wanted to protect them and see them all happy and safe, but there’s honestly not a ton of fleshing out from any of them. While we’re given basic motives and beliefs for each of our three main players, I felt like their emotions—especially regarding the romance—were shown from a distant, far-off perspective. The only character I ever felt like I was being given a genuine chance to connect with was Arthur, with his gender fluidity, struggles to thrive, and implied nonbinary identity. I loved getting inside of his head, even when he broke my heart with his own internalized homophobia and transphobia. Rhun and Mairwen, on the other hand, while both lovable, never felt real.

Underneath his spikes, Arthur wants nothing more than to be loved by these two people.

While it may sound like I was disappointed by quite a bit (and trust me, I was), the reason I didn’t hesitate to round my 3.5 up to a 4 is because of the absolutely precious polyamorous relationship that forms. There’s other queer rep in the story (such as a side f/f couple and implied bi/pansexuality from a few characters), but the spotlight shines on the relationship between Mairwen (implied bi/pan), Arthur (bi/pan, trans spectrum/implied enby), and Rhun (we know he’s queer, but I strongly feel that he is biromantic and homosexual). Each of these teens loves the other two so much they can hardly stand themselves, and given that polyamorous representation is so rare in books—especially in YA!—I was utterly delighted to watch them come to terms with the idea that they had enough love in their hearts for a trio instead of a duo.

Her heart has always belonged to the forest.

So, if you’ve stuck it out this far, you’re a winner in my book, because I think this is one of the messiest reviews I’ve ever written. I simply don’t know how to eloquently describe my feelings for this book, which simultaneously made me so happy and yet left me so let down. There is so much good at play here, but in so many ways, it could have been more. There’s so much time spent describing repetitive things (which doesn’t help with the poor pacing in the middle of the book) that could have benefited tremendously from being spent on character development or world-building.

My final point is this: this is quite likely one of the lowest 4-star ratings I have ever given, but it is still a 4-star read at the end of the day. I absolutely feel confident in recommending this title to people who enjoy dark fantasy, books including witchcraft, the occult, deals with devils, and anyone who wants to finally see some on-page polyamorous representation in their YA reads.

Content warnings for animal death, transphobia, homophobia, forced gender roles, child death, verbal abuse.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Margaret K. McElderry for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!


Buddy read with Kaleena!
Profile Image for darmera.
30 reviews225 followers
October 19, 2019
3.5 with a higher rounding. A enjoyable October read if you are feeling something more atmospheric. The book has a definite autumnal scent to it, however if I wouldn't recommend it if you don't like flowier, more descriptive and abstract books. It stays true to the genre of magical realism with longer descriptions and a slower pace. It definitely lost my attention at certain parts, or left me confused at others, but to be completely honest that might have partially been my fault, because I was a bit distracted whilst reading it. Also,even though they were well developed, I just couldn't feel the connection I wanted with the main characters. Only if they were made a little more personable, the overall effect of the book would have been a real hit. Enjoyable, but could have been even better. If you were thinking about picking it up though - now is the time. The mood of the month contributes to the reading experience.
Happy middle of October friends,
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,048 reviews1,381 followers
September 27, 2018
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

Actual Rating: 2.5 stars

“The old god and the youngest Grace witch. The story says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all?”

🌟 I didn’t like and didn’t hate this book but I think it could have been better for sure.
I read this because I like the synopsis very much! I thought that I have read something similar before -And it obviously isn’t new but still good- and I found out that it has the same synopsis for Uprooted.

🌟 This book started really good and I thought that I finally found a good book but it became boring shortly after that and for the majority of the story. I liked how it improved toward the ending but for most of the story I didn’t feel the relish of it.

�� The world building was good initially and I liked how different people reacted toward the sacrifice thing but I think many things are left in the shadows without much explanation as the witches and magic outside the forest.

🌟 I think it was going well until they go into the forest and go out, I saw many reviews mentioning that it was even boring before that. That was the cut point where every thing changed for me, the writing became all over the place, I was confused and I feel it could have been better if it was told in a linear fashion rather than the jumping that it did.

🌟 A positive thing that I should mention is the diversity of characters in this book, this was an LGBTQ grail and it deals with the subject in a good way.

🌟 I can’t deny that the writing was good at some points but I lost interest one way or another.

🌟 Summary: Strange Grace is a diverse story with a very intriguing synopsis. The writing was good but the execution was not. This is a further reason to read Uprooted now.

🌟 Prescription: Read the synopsis and see if you like it, and if you don’t mind slow pacing and like diverse characters the this book for you. If not, then Uprooted may be an alternative.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.5k followers
October 7, 2018
While I did like a lot of things about this, I just could not for the life of me wrap my poor, contemporary loving brain around all of the fantastical elements in this enough to really enjoy it. Womp :(

(Side-note: I definitely think that if you at all enjoy fantasy even just a little bit more than I do, you will LOVE this. It was just way more heavy on the fantasy than I was expecting and I couldn’t immerse myself as much as I was hoping I would)
Profile Image for ✨ Helena ✨.
382 reviews1,010 followers
June 19, 2020
If you’re feeling for a spooky book, but have already read Uprooted by Naomi Novik, I’d recommend reading this to satisfy your craving.

It has a creepy forest, a tricky devil, bird women, blood magic, and a MFM polyamorous relationship.

While it is admittedly rather slow-paced, it was also quite enjoyable. I had fun traipsing through the story along with Mairwen, Rhen, and Arthur.

I’d recommend reading this paranormal story around Halloween. It’d be perfect!
Profile Image for Riley.
429 reviews21.7k followers
August 6, 2020
"The old god and the youngest Grace witch. The story says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all?"

This is such a ME book. If you took all the things I love and threw them in a blender, this book would be the product.
🍁 fantasy
🍁 spooky
🍁 dark fairy tale
🍁 witches
🍁 so queer
🍁 gender norms? who is she?

This will be the perfect fall read.
If you are looking for something spooky and atmospheric, this is it.
If you are looking for something witchy, this is it.
If you are looking for something super dark, this is it.
This reminded me so much of one of my fave horror movies, The Witch. It has the same eerie quiet vibe that I love.

Every 7 years, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the citizens of Three Graces must send their chosen saint into the forest to be sacrificed to the devil who lives within. The whole idea of this town sacrificing their best boy in order to have 7 years of good luck was so twisted and fascinating.
"They made this bargain with the devil: Every seven years their best boy is sent into the forest from sundown to sunrise, on the night of the Slaughter Moon. He will live or die on his own mettle, and for his sacrifice the devil blesses Three Graces."

We follow 3 main characters, all of whom I love with my whole heart.

Mariwen: daughter of the current Grace Witch and a previous saint who was sacrificed to the forest
"A Grace witch began this bargain with her heart, her mother says, and your heart could end it."

Arthur: raised as a girl because his mother wanted to save him from ever being sacrificed. now determined to prove himself as the best boy
"He promised himself, ten years ago, to someday run into the forest and offer the devil his heart, but Arthur understands now that the devil ate his heart a long time ago"

Rhun: current best boy. known his whole life that his destiny lies within the forest

The three of them have such a powerful polyamorous relationship. They are so wholly connected that one cannot exist without the other two.

The fourth main character is the forest itself. The setting really came to life and felt like a living breathing character within the story. And I felt a calling to the devils forest just as these characters did.
"She wishes to step inside. Longs to explore, to discover the forest’s secrets. But her mother has said, again and again, Grace witches do not return from the forest. We all hear the call, eventually, and walk inside forever. My mother did, and hers before that. You were born with the call, baby bird, because of your daddy, and must resist.”

The writing in this was what stole my heart. I highlighted so many lines because everything was just so beautiful. I am so happy to have found a new author that I adore and I can’t wait to read more of Tessa’s works.
Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
917 reviews283 followers
February 25, 2019
This is one of the most conflicting reviews/ratings I've given lately. Strange Grace is dark, creepy and just the right amount of gory for me. So you'd think it would hit the mark for a teen fantasy read. And it mostly does. However there are moments and times where I feel like something was missing or a connective tissue wasn't quite there. Also refreshing is that it's a stand-alone!!

When you write a book that focuses on tidbits of information dropped like easter eggs throughout the narrative you need to be very confident that you've given enough context for the reader to have an 'ah-ha' moment when that tidbit becomes relevant. This was the biggest missing piece for me with Tessa Gratton's dark novel. It felt like the 'ah-ha' moments were dulled or just not even there. The one key moment, where you go 'OMG', I did have a reaction to; but even that felt a little muffled by the attempt to stay up on what I'd been told to date. I'm not quite sure how else to describe what was missing except to say that a good mystery or thriller author could likely solve this issue quickly as I believe it would be obvious where the links are not meeting.

Ever since I read LOTR at age 12 I have been vehemently against flashbacks. I abhor being told what happened for key moments if the flashback isn't in a journal entry, orally being told story, or really, really interesting. Luckily for Gratton she fits into the really interesting category. It's a very risky thing to tell 90% of your compelling story in flashbacks; and yet that is exactly how Strange Grace is set-up. This format allows for bits and pieces of the story, from different characters POV, to be told in a jumbled up way which could work but in this case I'm not sure it was as effective as it could be (see foreshadowing above).

Endings & Romance
The absolute best endings to me have a few things in common. They don't please everyone, not everyone survives (if applicable) and everyone leaves changed. Without a doubt Gratton meets my ending criteria.
It also helps that the romance in Strange Grace is fairly well done. It's a typical confused and conflicted teen romance (between three people); but I really loved the way Gratton incorporated the pan sexuality into the complex trio's lives. I genuinely believed that a three-person relationship would be possible in certain scenarios here. And not because the characters were trying to all be happy but because it just made sense for these characters. It's difficult to handle a unique teen romance, in a vicious, fairly bloodthirsty book without having the trauma become 99% of the focus. But somehow Gratton manages to give us three independent and unique characters who all need each other and not just because of the horrors they may (or may not) have witnessed; but instead because their souls feel entwined. I realize this may sound lame... (or maybe it's because I have a hard time with romance) but I felt like this was a teen romance that I could understand and support.

The darkness and romance of Strange Grace certainly pushed me into 3-4 star territory (there is also a really good moral dilemma); but the missing 'ah-ha' moments and lack of lines to tug on brought it down. I feel if Gratton paired up with a couple great mystery editors or writers for comments, reviews and edits that this could be a stellar book. I will certainly read Gratton's books in the future as I believe her and I have something in common. A dark place in our souls that we don't quite know what to do with sometimes. Strange Grace touched that deep place (that all of us have to some degree) and gave it a life (that is less horrific and more gothic) for a short period of time.

To read this and more of my reviews visit my blog at Epic Reading

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,741 reviews712 followers
September 13, 2018
DNF at 60%

HOW I WANTED TO LOVE THIS BOOK. I love the cover and the synopsis is magical and I couldn’t wait to get to it. Sadly, it was so boring.

I really liked the three main characters: Mair, Arthur, and Rhun. They’re all in love with each other and the dynamic of their relationship would have been enough for me if it would have been crafted in a different way. The three of them barely have interactions and I wanted to see why they were drawn to each other. Instead it seemed like I was just supposed to know. There are a lot of other characters — well, just a lot of names, really — but we don’t get to know much about any of them.

Plot wise it was slow slow slow. The world building was non-existent, if there was magic, I didn’t see it, and everything moved so slow. The exciting part of the forest is literally a time jump and the constant flashbacks were not satisfying at all. OH AND HAVE I MENTIONED IT WAS SLOW?

Overall, it was an amazing concept with a wonderful ending {because you know I read the last chapter}, I just couldn’t get into the execution.

**Huge thanks to Margaret K. McElderry Books for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews192 followers
March 23, 2019
Strange Grace is a high fantasy novel featuring a polyamorous relationship, terrible bargains, and the creepiest forest since Uprooted.
Which means, of course, that it was exactly my thing. I read it in less than a day - thanks to rivetedlit I could read it legally for free and not for the 11€ this ebook costs, but only for one day - and it's been a while since I did that without skimming. I loved this book so much, for many reasons.

One of them is, of course, the polyamory representation. This is the first YA fantasy book I've ever read that follows a polyamorous (f/m/nb) triad, and it shouldn't be this rare, for a genre that until 2016 was basically made up of love triangles.
The three characters involved are:
🍂 Mairwen Grace, the white daughter of the town's witch, has always heard the forest call her. I love her a lot, but more than her I loved how her scenes were the ones that involved more creepy forest content, and there's a reason for that;
🍂 Rhun Sayer, black. He's the "best boy" in town, and as such, he will have to be sacrificed to the god of the forest. He's sweet and selfless, but also wishes the people around him didn't see him only as a sacrifice. He has been openly in love with Mairwen and more secretly in love with Arthur for a while;
🍂 Arthur Couch, white, all sharp edges and denial. He was raised as a girl by his mother who didn't want him to ever become a martyr. He was "discovered" when he was six, and since then, he has struggled to fit in. His character arc about understanding that he didn't need to fit into a box other people tried to force him in was one of my favorite parts of the book. It's strongly implied that he is non-binary.
I loved all of them, especially because of their relationship dynamic, but I have to say that Rhun and especially Mairwen weren't as developed as they should have been, and that Arthur ended up being a far more interesting character than both of them.

I loved Arthur also because of what he represented. In the acknowledgments, the author mentions her frustration with gender roles in modern paganism, and I loved what this book said about gendered magic. The worldbuilding is not trans-inclusive by any means, it's intentionally binarist, but it lent itself to a really good exploration and dismantling of gender essentialism.

And let's talk more about the worldbuilding: it isn't in-depth, not really, but I actually prefer this for fairytale-like stories, explaining too much takes away the magic. It reminded me of the distant-and-yet-so-close feeling The Boneless Mercies gave me a few months ago. But that's not to say the worldbuilding was bad or inconsistent; it just left a lot of things implied. It's implied that this is set in a transphobic and homophobic society, but you see little of the transphobia and even less of the homophobia because you're following a mainly-queer cast and these main characters aren't - apart from some internalized stuff in Arthur's case - homophobic or transphobic themselves.

I know it's almost winter, but Strange Grace is such a fall book. It's atmospheric and creepy and it's set among the vivid reds and oranges of a forest during the fall. It's beautiful, as books written by Tessa Gratton usually are - really, if you like pretty writing and atmospheric epic fantasy, read The Queens of Innis Lear - and it's also deliciously bloody. So many twisted bargains and mysterious creatures.
Also: I didn't see that coming. I don't know how I missed that.

Strange Grace's pacing was better than I expected. I actually liked its structure and the way some things kept coming up through flashbacks. It added to the mystery and even to the atmosphere, in a way. But my expectations were low, because the Innis Lear book was so slow it was almost painful.

And there's yet another reason this book meant so much to me: it's about a creepy forest. I don't like creepy forests just because they're atmospheric and I love vivid settings, but because I grew up with an unlikely plant-related phobia. It's just the kind of horror that appeals to me, I always feel like these books get it. The trees are as creepy as they're beautiful and they're not to be trusted.

But there are some things I didn't love. While the side cast was interesting and had some really well-written characters like Haf, Vaughn, Baeddan and Adalyn, two of the main characters slightly disappointed me (but I still loved them). Also, something about the writing of this book felt very... pinterest? Like, it was beautiful, but I could just see from which pictures some of the body horror descriptions here came from. And another thing, since I'm nitpicking now: I'm tired of YA authors describing brown eyes as plain. Green eyes are emerald and surprising, blue eyes are intense, and brown eyes are... plain. It happens in so many young adult books. Can we not.

4.75 stars. Content warnings for: death of a side queer female character, body horror, blood, transphobia.
Profile Image for Mon.
264 reviews216 followers
August 15, 2022
Esta reseña la debí escribir en 2020 o 2021 (sí, también me olvido de los años), pero por aquel entonces fue cuando GR decidió eliminarme de su lista y tuve que hacerme otra cuenta. Así que, perdón si no es una reseña tan detallada como las que hago de mis lecturas recientes, pero es lo único que puedo hacer.

Una vez una bruja y un demonio hicieron un pacto. La leyenda dice que se amaban con locura. Pero ¿se puede confiar en las historias?

Hay casos en los que es muy difícil identificar el género al que pertenece un libro. Por ejemplo, en algunos sitios éste se encuentra etiquetado como fantasía, en otros terror, en otros paranormal. Yo no soy ninguna experta, pero para mí y Wikipedia esto es fantasía oscura. Quizá los personajes no sean tan moralmente grises como en otros libros del subgénero, pero el ambiente en el que se mueven sí. No me mal entiendan, los tres protagonistas sí que tienen sus cosillas que los hacen parecer más villanos que héroes, pero esos rasgos no logran sobresalir cuando el mundo en el que se mueven es mil veces más imponente que ellos. ¿Creo que eso es un defecto? Para nada.

Algunos libros pasan a la historia por la trama, otros por los personajes, otros por una ship, pocos por un conjunto de razones, y todavía menos por la construcción del mundo. Por lo general, la construcción del mundo es algo que solo sobresale cuando esta mal hecho, pero aquí es todo lo contrario. Quizá este libro no pase a la historia de las demás personas, pero sí a la mía. Soy una aficionada del arte experimental en cualquier formato, me gusta cuando los artistas crean cosas a partir de la mezcla de conceptos varios, el resultado siempre se escapa a lo habitual, por mucho que el arte experimental haya crecido en popularidad; la verdad es que quienes practican este tipo de arte siempre logran crear algo diferente, aunque no siempre nuevo. ¿Por qué digo todo esto? Porque en Extraña gracia hay una mezcla muy agradable entre elementos que rozan el horror absoluto, la fantasía y los cuentos de Los hermanos Grimm, combinado, además, con una escritura maravillosa que si bien usa un estilo peculiar (las letras cambian de tamaño y los cambios de narrador son abruptos) ha funcionado con el libro, ya que ese estilo de escritura ayuda a trasmitir la unión entre los protagonistas y el bosque. La unión en sí misma.

Pero basta de hablar del bosque (del que no he dado detalles minuciosos por obvias razones), hablemos de Mairwen, Rhun y Arthur, tres chicos que se conocen de toda la vida, tres chicos a los que los une el amor que Mairwen y Rhun no temen afrontar y del que Arthur rehuye por un trauma de la infancia. Pese a que los tres son protagonistas, Mairwen es en quien se centra la trama, y no tengo queja, ella es una chica extravagante e impulsiva que luego de que las cosas no salieran como las planeaba se ve obligada a tomar una decisión que, de pesadilla en pesadilla, la llevará a conocer la verdad que durante tantos años le han ocultado. He de decir que lo que pasa es predecible, no hay sorpresa cuando todo llega al punto culminante, pero es justo en esa tercera y última parte del libro que yo me enamoré del bosque y lo que se oculta en su interior, así que no puedo ser objetiva. Y aunque considero que todo fue muy obvio, yo me sentí bastante complacida e impactada, no tanto por las verdades que salen a la luz, sino por la atmósfera que se forma entorno a ellas. Mairwen a mí me encanta, es la protagonista perfecta para este tipo de historias, no es demasiado emocional pese a que su inspiración para hacer las cosas que hace es, de hecho, emotiva. Ya he dicho que yo con los protagonistas no acostumbro hacer clic (ni idea de porqué), pero con Mairwen sí, realmente me interesaba que le pasaría y quería que todo le saliera bien pese al sitio en el que vivía. La amé y la amo, todavía.

Si tengo una queja sería que la visión de Tessa Gratton sobre el poliamor no me acabó de convencer. Yo no he estado en una relación así, pero sí he tenido amistades que lo han hecho y algo en lo que todos ellos concuerdan es que cuando estás en una relación poliamorosa de este tipo en particular, lo principal es que cada uno de los involucrados se sienta igual de querido. Aquí ocurre algo medio incómodo, ya que uno quiere más a otro y ese otro quiere más a la otra e incluso hay un momento bastante "trágame tierra" por ahí (?

En resumen, no recomiendo este libro, y no porque crea que es malo, sino porque creo que es demasiado extraño.
Profile Image for Monica.
Author 4 books273 followers
January 20, 2020
Las historias oscuras son mis favoritas, y la verdad es que la premisa de extraña gracia tiene todos los elementos para que sea una historia de fantasía oscura intrigante, llena de suspenso y que nos va contando con una narrativa intensa, personajes que se entrelazan en una trama que te mantiene en vilo con cada acción.

Los personajes son la característica más fuerte que posee esta novela, la autora es una increíble narradora, que nos da una historia rica y oscura desde su inicio hasta su final.
Profile Image for Britt.
17 reviews24 followers
July 18, 2018
Have you ever realized you were sitting reading with one hand covering your mouth?
That’s how large parts of this book were for me.

Strange Grace was such a beautiful, eerie, twisted, and compelling story.
The haunting atmosphere of the Devil’s Forest with its whispering creatures, shadows over your shoulder, and echoing laughter of the devil will chill your bones while you read – while somehow still coming off as an inspiring story about love and sacrifice.

A witch makes a deal with the devil to ensure prosperity for their village (no illnesses, healthy crops, no untimely deaths) by agreeing that every 7 years, during the Slaughter Moon, the best boy in the village will be sacrificed into the Devil’s Forest.
When things start to change in their village and the bargain appears to be falling apart, 3 friends change what is expected of their roles to try to not only save their village, but each other.

Mairwen is the daughter of the current Grace witch. She is fierce, smart, proud, and loves with her whole heart. She is such a wonderful character to follow. Rhun is just one of the best people you will ever meet. He is the suspected next saint and has always accepted this. And Arthur is fierce and burns so brightly. I loved his character and seeing his side of the way he has grown up. Every aspect of the relationship between the three of them is so beautiful and well done. It drives so much of this story. A love triangle –sort of, but in the most beautiful, equal, loving, and healthy way.

This book is exactly what I think of when I think “dark fantasy”. There were so many deliciously creepy visuals and the way Tessa Gratton set such a chilling atmosphere was eerie and captivating. It was beautifully written and is a book that will leave you thinking about it long after it’s over. There is also lovely LGBT representation and powerful self-discovery.

And September could not be a more perfect release date for it. I will definitely be pre-ordering this one and waiting among the crisp fallen leaves with a cup of cider.

*Thank you very much to Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss*
for a new 2018 favorite!!
Profile Image for Maëlys.
296 reviews277 followers
January 4, 2021
☆ 5 / 5 ☆

“A Grace witch began this bargain with her heart, her mother says, and your heart could end it.”

I knew I was in for a ride with this book when I started getting emotional halfway through the prologue. In very few pages, Tessa Gratton highlights the heart-wrenching quality of the sacrifice the town makes and of how entrenched it is in these boys to be willing to die for their town. It gives and takes away hope in a moment, and was a perfect setup to present the three main characters.

“He's so perfect, he's going to die.”

In Three Graces, life is without surprises. There is never too much rain or too much sunlight, no illnesses, no death that comes too soon, thanks to the bargain they’ve made with the devil in the forest. Every 7 years they will send their best boy into the forest as a sacrifice and hope he can outrun the devil and his beasts, few have survived. However, 3 years after the last Slaughter Moon signs of trouble start appearing in the town and it might be time for an early sacrifice.

Our three main characters are full of longing and so badly want to go into the forest (and maybe find a solution). Mairwen longs to answer the call of the forest she’s heard all her life and to find her father’s bones. Rhun desires nothing more but to fulfil his destiny and go into the forest to protect his friends, his family, his town. Arthur burns with the need to prove to everyone he has a place, to be accepted, to be seen as worthy, he wants to become better than himself.

“I am a flame in a lantern and the glass trapping my own heat. I am roots and earthworms. They crawl inside me and it tickles. My lungs are dry leaves. My heart is flower petals.”

The lead up to the Slaughter Moon, to the unravelling of whatever is wrong with the town builds up pretty slowly and gives everything a different tension and sense of unease. It suits the setting of the Three Graces that is usually quaint and uneventful and shows how normalised this sacrifice is, how ready everyone is to throw one of these boys into the forest.

Right up next to a town that desperately wants to hold on to their normality, the Devil’s forest looms with the promise of darkness. I loved all the scenes we got in the forest and how atmospheric it was, how the magic that lurks there is so whimsical but dark, tiltering on the edge of life and death.

“I lived my life expecting to be a saint. It isn’t such a great sacrifice, if you never expect to have a future.”

The scariest part of it all though is not the devil and his forest, but the willingness of a village to perpetuate this bargain and sacrifice without asking any questions. This is all about the lies that are told to convince young people (and especially young boys) that giving their lives away for their community is a greater good, that it makes them “the best”.

With Rhun, it explores how love and caring can be twisted into a sense of pride and protectiveness that can only end in death, how by only being shown this one choice in life these boys become so willing they see no other future for themselves.

The story also wonders if a sacrifice is only worthy because there is love, hence why the best boy is the one who has to be given up.

“Just like sickness and blight, like torrential rain and sudden death, Arthur does not belong. He shudders like a flickering flame, wishing he knew where to stand, or how to make himself into an inferno.”

The bargain however only works because this town is so deathly afraid of change, a change that will come if the sacrifices stop and the bargain is broken. Arthur personifies this, and what being different means in this town.

Raised as a girl in his childhood by a mother who was terrified of losing her child to the sacrifice, Arthur was suddenly thrust into making a life-changing decision. He took on his identity as a boy and was determined to stick by the hard rules and gender roles imposed by this town. Trying to conform though didn’t actually bring him acceptance but only made him scared of good things, bitter, and wanting to prove himself as the strongest man, the best boy.

Mairwen also lives outside of this town’s expectations as a witch, in the inbetween, at the edge of the forest. She however embraces this part of herself and doesn’t flinch away from it.

It is only as all three of these characters accept themselves outside the expectations and the roles the town would thrust upon them that they truly understand where their power lies.

“I love you, both of you, and all of you. Hold on to my heart and I’ll be fine.”

Through all the lies and deception, Mairwen, Rhun and Arthur still end up walking out as their truest selves. After seeing and understanding everything, after living through the worst together and surviving, they still have one another. They love each other so much, in such different ways, and it’s always palpable in all the actions they take in order to protect each other.

Rhun might find loving as easy as breathing, Arthur finds himself scared to love and to be loved, and Mairwen might be a little more unforgiving, but it works. They all work together and the love they carry, owning a little piece of each other’s hearts, was so beautiful and wonderfully showcased throughout the book.

So much of this was stunning and heart wrenching and raises the moral dilemma of a sacrifice very unconventionally. And sometimes you also just need and want to read about a devil in a forest!

Profile Image for Noura Khalid (theperksofbeingnoura).
522 reviews757 followers
October 11, 2020
"They made this bargain with the devil: Every seven years their best boy is sent into the forest from sundown to sunrise, on the night of the Slaughter Moon. He will live or die on his own mettle, and for his sacrifice the devil blesses Three Graces."

Thank you Edelweiss and Margaret McElderry Books for sending a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

When reading the synopsis of this book I instantly fell in love with it. I also had a feeling that it would be one of my favorite reads of 2018. Sadly, it took me forever to get this book done and I have to admit that this one simply just wasnt for me.

This book is definitely atmospheric. It was like being in a lucid dream and I had no problem with that. The pacing was extremely slow for me, and I usually dont have issues with slow books but maybe I read it at the wrong time. I was often confused as to what was going on. I mean the writing was beautiful at times but I did get lost quite a bit. I also felt like the magic wasnt explored thoroughly. I felt like there was still more to figure out.

“He was bold and powerful, beautiful and dangerous, but he loved the first Grace witch, and it was from that love the bargain blossomed. This valley is made on love, little bird. Find love. Seek it, always. That is where our power resides.”.

Since I had a hard time reading this I didn't really form any attachment to the characters. They were each complex in their own way though. The story picked up towards the end, and I’ll admit I did enjoy the last 100 pages more than the rest. The plot twist was great since I didn't see it coming. This book definitely amazed me in how very strange it was. I cant really find other words to describe how I felt about this book. I can’t seem to get my ideas across so I’ll just leave it at this.

Despite not really enjoying this book I cant say this will be my last read by Tessa Gratton. Maybe this one just wasnt for me and maybe I’ll enjoy some of her other books. It’s all a matter of perspective. I hope those who do pick up this book enjoy it.
Profile Image for Ashlee » libraryinthecountry.
781 reviews680 followers
October 11, 2018
View review on my blog, Library in the Country

Review copy generously provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.

Strange Grace was such a beautiful tale about love and sacrifice, with a wonderfully eerie and unsettling twist to it. This is the PERFECT Fall read and perfect if you're looking for something to sweep you up and cradle your heart.

Many generations before Mairwen, Rhun and Arthur were born, their village of Three Graces made a bargain with the devil. Every seven years, the village will willingly sacrifice their best boy into the Devil's Forest. Only the sacrificed saints go into the forest, for it is full of otherworldly creatures, whispers that promise wicked and delightful things and if you look close enough you may see the shadow of the devil himself. It's been three years since the last boy went in, ten years since Rhun's cousin went in, seventeen years since Mairwen's father went in and almost two hundred years since the devil fell in love with a Grace witch. Nothing bad befalls Three Graces, except now. Something is wrong with the bargain and the Slaughter Moon has risen early.

Bound by their love for each other, Mairwen, Rhun and Arthur set out to seek a way to fix the bargain, save their village and each other from the clutches of the devil.

This book is certainly a dark fantasy, but it had so many inspiring moments - it constantly had me smiling and screaming "YASSSS!" for the triumphs of my favorite characters. Mairwen is smart, fierce as a wildcat and loves with no bounds. Rhun is a damn blessing, the perfect saint and you will adore everything he does. Arthur doesn't fit the mold he has made for himself, he burns brightly despite his longing to stand in the dark and all I wanted to do was force him into a hug (that he would certainly grimace over).

This is absolutely a character driven story and you never know what these three characters will do next, but you'll support them every time. Also, love triangle? No, not exactly. There is a triangle but it isn't what you may expect and I LOVED it. There was really only one relationship to "ship" and let me tell you, it WORKED.

I was so lost in the chilling atmosphere of this story, the depth of the characters, the mystery surrounding the bargain, and especially the devil himself. There are SO many amazing twists in this book, it will keep you turning the pages well past your bedtime.

This book also has some lovely LGBT+ rep, including trans rep that never even made me think of it that way. It just fit the story so perfectly.

Overall, after reading Strange Grace, I want to own and read everything Tessa Gratton has written. She has been on my radar for a few months now and this book was EVERYTHING I needed to decide I need to read more by her! Put this on your Fall reading list! This is definitely one of those ARCs I immediately wanted to pre-order as soon as I finished it.
510 reviews2,412 followers
October 1, 2018
one of the weirdest yet most fascinating books i’ve read in a while!!!
😮 insanely unique fantasy aspects
😍 three very different but all very interesting main characters
💕 verrrry odd romances
👀 that twist tho!?!?
🌹 that girl power from the heroine? yaaaaas
Profile Image for Justine.
1,158 reviews312 followers
January 11, 2019
3.5 stars rounded up

I read this a couple of months ago, and after a bit of time has gone by I have realised that this is one of those books I actually liked more than I thought.

Gratton weaves an incredibly atmospheric tale examining the bonds of love and friendship, and how self-identity bears on them, particularly when you are confronted with changing your conception of who you are.

It also has some horror elements, particularly some stark body horror, making it an all around unusual book that is hard for me to neatly categorize. It isn't a fast moving story, but I did find it pretty compelling, and as I said, after thinking on it a while I ended up liking it even more than I thought I did.
Profile Image for Meli.
628 reviews410 followers
June 7, 2018
Es perfecto.
Una de las prosas más hermosas, poéticas y mágicas que he leído. En serio, toda la magia de este libro, que es bien, bien primitiva y llena de poesía, viene de la mano de la narración.
La historia es tremendamente interesante, y del romance mejor ni hablemos porque mi corazón no puede con tanto.
Profile Image for BoMo.
137 reviews32 followers
August 7, 2020

Nobody can change who he is except for himself, not any saint ritual, not an ignorant, terrified town, not a night spent in the forest, not a dress or a kiss.

5 stars! A must read.

This book is different - which actually is a good thing to be.
When I started reading, the story reminded me of „The village“, „Sleepy hollow“ and of course the original (dark and disturbing) Grimm fairytales, which I grew up with and adore since childhood.

I think, this is the kind of book you have to read without knowing too much about the plot....and watch it all unfold while reading.

It’s a story about gender roles and obligations, about doing what’s right even if it’s hard, about families: the family we have and the family we choose.
But above all it’s a story about love. Brotherly love, sisterly love, love between mothers and their children and of course romantic love.....and the question, how far you would go to save the ones you love., what price you would be willing to pay.

It centers around Mairwen, a witch. Rhun, the most beloved boy in Three Graces and Arthur, a boy who despises everything and everyone, especially himself.

It’s interesting how their stories are intertwined and to see, how they feel about each other.

Usually I despise love triangles and tend to avoid books which rely on that overused and unnecessary trope BUT this story proved to be the rare case where the love triangle not only makes sense but is also actually essential for the story itself.

Strange Grace is a well written book with great descriptions. I felt the the village and of course the forest with all it’s creatures come alive on the pages.
There are some clever plot twists and even if I saw some of them coming they were great and well written!
The part I liked best was the way the author described the first departure into the forest. I didn’t except the way it was presented to the reader and it was a really pleasant surprise to see the story unfold in that way! In my opinion the story is getting better page after page after this fateful night.
The ending was not only fitting but also satisfying.

This is definitely one of the best books of the year and I can’t wait to see what the author writes next.

Special thanks to my dear Jackie for the recommendation!
Profile Image for Karima chermiti.
827 reviews153 followers
October 16, 2018

Actual rating : 2.5 stars

Trigger warning :

The old god and the youngest Grace witch. The story says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all?

Oh, this book is such a mess to me, trying to understand what the hell is happening and what are the rules to the magic the book revolves around felt like trying to find your way back home in the dark completely blindfolded. I really don’t know what was taking place half of the time, maybe I didn’t pay enough attention or maybe the book failed to draw me in and make me care at all. All I know is that the book felt without aim, without direction and any semblance of plot was lost between all the nonsensical things that were happening.

They made this bargain with the devil: Every seven years their best boy is sent into the forest from sundown to sunrise, on the night of the Slaughter Moon. He will live or die on his own mettle, and for his sacrifice the devil blesses Three Graces.

Yes, the book is beautifully written, yes the characters are complex and layered and they have depth and dimensions, yes the dynamics between them are pure magic and I was blown away by the representation in this book, but the non-existent world building, the vague and non-linear storytelling that just frustrated me and made me grow bored didn’t turn this book into a favorite. I don’t hate this book, not even close, but I don’t love it either and the fact that it could’ve been better, makes it more disappointing that it ended up being somehow anti-climactic for my tastes.

Not to mention that it wasn't fast-paced and yet it throws many characters at you and with the exception of the three main characters, they are flat and underdeveloped that when characters starts talking, I just scratch my head and try to remember whether they are important or not, whether they were mentioned before or not.

The book didn’t make any sense for me that when the final twist came out of left field, I wasn’t surprised by it, this is book that makes up rules as it goes forward and they happen to suit what the author is trying to do next, that reeks of inconvenience. And that final twist just left me feeling cold, like books should work for their twists a little bit so they don’t feel out of nowhere, this book didn’t do that and even if it did, it was lost in the middle of is confusing elements.

If love can protect anybody, it will protect Rhun Sayer

The strength of the book comes from the three main characters themselves, like I said, they are well-written, and they are unique from one and another and they feel so deep and meaningful. Their complexity is a rare thing in YA books and I love the dynamics between them all. They are friends who are in love with each other and they all know it. They care deeply and they are willing to die for each other and yet they hide certain aspects of who they are.

He misses her with a simple ache that wakes him up at night. He doesn’t know if he’s in love with her or if he wants to set her on fire

I think the thing I loved about the book is Arthur character, he was the most complex of the three main ones and he’s filled with longing, torment and the feeling of being unwanted, an outsider just because the people of three graces doesn’t know what to make of him. His journey, the character development he goes through is a precious thing to me and I’ll cherish it forever

When it comes to the main characters, this book feels like a coming of age a story and a journey for them to discover who they really are, what they want and what makes them free and happy and through all the things they went through, they feel this sort of acceptance to what exists between them and they embrace it with all their hearts, I mean the book ends with an embrace, both physical and metaphorical.

I wish I could give this book more than 2.5 stars rating but I just didn’t enjoy it enough and even though the characters are absolutely great and compelling and captivating, they couldn’t save the mess that is this book.

It’s fear. Not of the devil, but fear of change. Fear of doing anything different that might cause a ripple and bring it all down.

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376 reviews179 followers
August 22, 2020
See Full Review On My Blog: Between Folded Pages

ARC provided by the publisher/Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

This book was everything I want in a book about witches! The writing style is beautiful and atmospheric. Strange Grace captures the feeling of being inside a dark forest perfectly along side a corrupt village. This is the perfect fall read, 

Three Graces is a small village, where no harm comes to the villagers. The people do not get sick, babies are born safe without complications and the crops prosper without wilting. The community is able to life without fear of the dangers out the outside world.All of this comes at a price, the devil lives in the forest, every seven years the people of Three Graces must send into the forest, there best boy as a sacrifice.

A long time ago, there lived three witches all named grace, the youngest sister had gone into the forest and fell in love with the devil. She chose to give him her heart, making the bargain that now keeps the village safe.This year something has gone wrong with the bargain, it's only been three years since the last boy ran in the forest. The people have come together and realized they will have to make the sacrifice early in order to keep the bargain with the devil.

This book follows three main characters. Mairwen, is the daughter of the current Grace witch. She was such a wonderful character, she is fierce,loyal, brave and loving. I loved her so much, she is a beautiful character and I really wished I could be her. Rhun,he is a black boy who is to be the next suspected saint. He is a wonderful person,kind and caring. Lastly there is Arthur, he was raised as a girl until he was old enough that the other children noticed he was different. His mother couldn't bear the thought of him being a saint and when he was discovered a boy she left the village.He feels the need to prove to the people that he is the best boy.

The most wonderful thing about these three character's is there relationship with each other. I have never read a YA book with a polyamorous relationship and it was so well done. The representation was fantastic! These three love each other so deeply. Another character that I just adored was Mairwen best friend Haf, she is just the sweetest thing.

What I couldn't get enough of was the prose, especially descriptions of the forest and the creatures within it.T he writing is so beautiful, and poetic while creating a haunting, dream like mood, following the dark events of the book.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I was completely blown away. This was a great story about love and friendship. I highly recommend this book ,I gave it 5 Stars. Strange Grace release date is September 18, 2018.
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