Joanne's Reviews > The Devouring Gray

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
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I was sent this final copy for free by Titan Books for the purposes of providing an honest review.

Trigger/Content Warnings: This book features physical violence, death, grief, dead bodies, animal death, kidnap, and a cult.

I had been really looking forward to reading The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman! It sounded spooky and eerie, and right up my street! I read it was for fans of Stranger Things and Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand, so I was even more excited to read it! And while it was a good story, it wasn't really anywhere near what I was expecting it to be.

Unfortunately, the tone was off. Or rather, not what I was expecting. I had been wanting to read creepy, atmospheric stories, and this was the third book I read that just wasn't. I might have enjoyed The Devouring Gray more were I not in the mood for something with a lot of atmosphere, and if I wasn't led to believe it was going to be a creepy story. It just wasn't scary at all, and nothing like the tone of Stranger Things or Sawkill Girls. It's an urban fantasy about a strange town, Four Paths, where there is a kind of second reality layered on top, and sometimes it flickers from the normal Four Paths, to the gray, a forest lacking all colour, where a beast was trapped 150 years ago, and is held there by the descendants of the town's founders, who all have powers.

The other thing kind of annoyed me was that nothing major actually happened. There's one event in the middle of the story, and then two later on, and that's it. Most of it is more mystery. The story is told from the  perspectives of Violet, Justin, and Harper. Violet has discovered she's descended from one of the founders, and her power has been woken up - she's a necromancer. However, she won't be able to control her power until she's completed the family ritual - however, her mum remembers nothing about the town's open secret, and her aunt has dementia. She's helped by the other founder children, Justin (and occasionally his sister May) and Isaac, but also Harper, who is at odds with Justin and Isaac after the Hawthorns - Justin's family, the leaders of the town - acted like she doesn't exist since she failed her ritual. But Harper is helping Violet - trying to get her on side, and to not trust the Hawthorns - for her own reasons. Justin is helping partly because he just genuinely wants to help, but also because something needs to be done about the rising body count as people are pulled into the gray, and doesn't feel like his prejudiced mum, the leader and sheriff, is doing enough. If Violet can figure out and complete the ritual, maybe she could help him and the others try to do something about the beast and the gray. And while I was engaged in the story, in the different character dynamics, and shocked by some of the things that happened, I was expecting a lot more. Or rather, a different story.

I liked how queer this books is; Violet and Isaac are both bisexual, and while no label is used, Violet's mum is attracted to men and women, as is another side character. And Harper is disabled, having lost her left arm to the elbow when she failed her ritual.

I really think my not that enthused feelings are down to wrong back at the wrong time. I'm positive I would have loved it were I in a different mood, and were I not misled. Especially as I adore urban fantasy and there's so very little of it being published these days! While this story has a conclusion, there are more revelations at the end. I'm intrigued, and the story was engaging enough that I really want to read where the story goes, and find out more about the truth behind the gray, the beast, and the founders. So I'll definitely be picking up the next book!

While my review isn't overwhelmingly positive, there are others who really enjoyed it, so do read other reviews before deciding whether or not you'll read it.

Thank you to Titan Books for the review copy.
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Reading Progress

March 1, 2019 – Shelved
March 1, 2019 – Shelved as: wishlist
March 21, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
June 11, 2019 – Started Reading
June 15, 2019 – Finished Reading
June 19, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019-releases
June 19, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019-ya-mg-na-debuts
June 19, 2019 – Shelved as: arcs-proofs-review-copies
June 19, 2019 – Shelved as: disability
June 19, 2019 – Shelved as: lgbtq
June 19, 2019 – Shelved as: ya-urban-fantasy

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