Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today I’m sharing with you my review of my first read of this year, The Devouring Gray.
On the edge of town, a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…
Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.
When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?
I wasn’t completely sure what to make of this book initally. It had been on my book wishlist for a while, and I used a Christmas voucher to buy it. So I think there was absolutely a bit of having built it up, and wanting it to live up to expectations!
However, the book quickly gripped me, and became a very engaging story of multiple people struggling with their own issues, many of which overlap without them even knowing. The more the book progressed, the more this became clear, and the deeper, darker secrets of the town started to show – and the problem isn’t just the Gray. The divisions between the town’s founders, and now between the founder families and the town itself, are only getting wider, and everyone is starting to notice.
Violet is a great lead character in that she feels very human. All her grief from the loss of her sister is layered up, making her an almost solid wall, one that struggles to let anything in or out. Her mother is struggling too but in her own way, so determined to not let any weakness show that Violet feels alone in her struggles, and unable to ask for support. The moments they do have where they lean on each other are genuinely touching, and leave you hoping that, in a world where stories continue after the book has finished, their relationship improves.
The other founder children we encounter – Isaac, Harper, Justin and May – all have some key roles to play throughout the story, and we see snippets from each of their perspectives. Multiple points of view can work incredibly well in certain circumstances, and in this case it does, lending itself to the unfolding mysteries that we’re slowly gathering pieces of.
The representation in the book was really pleasing to see, with several bisexual characters, but also with Harper, who has lost her arm below the elbow due to backfiring magic. When we first meet her, she’s secretly practicing swording fighting with her remaining arm, teaching herself to adjust all her moves to balance back out, and as a disabled reader, I loved that she was fierce, unapologetically herself, and determined to still do what she most loves.
The story might be one with supernatural threads, but the tapestry is far bigger than that. Magic, family secrets, lost loves, future hopes and current despairs all weave together to create a dramatic tale that is everything you could be looking for and more.