Tracy Banghart dreams up a fierce and fantastical love letter to the power of women in GRACE AND FURY, the story of two sisters fighting against terrible fates!
Serina is a Grace, trained to be the ideal woman in hopes of catching the eye of the heir and becoming among the first of his many lifelong companions, perhaps even becoming the mother to the next heir in the process. Her younger sister Nomi fell into Serina’s shadow, becoming outspoken and rebellious– two traits that could easily get her killed in their backwards society where women don’t have any rights. When Serina is presented to the heir, Nomi comes along as her handmaiden. But when Nomi’s scandalous secret is discovered, it’s Serina that takes the fall and is imprisoned. Now, forced into what seemed to be the other’s fate, Serina must find her strength and battle for survival while Nomi must live as a Grace and try to gain enough favor to get Serina freed.
There’s a lot of enjoy about Grace and Fury, but you’re going to fall in love with the characters first and foremost. They shine with unique personalities and sharp complexities. Banghart starts the characters off as stereotypes, then carefully chisels away at your expectations of them to unmask each character in their totality, revealing them in new and unexpected ways. This is particularly true for our two lead sisters, whose stories are told in alternating chapters. I really admired both girls for their determination and powerful love for each other, even though their relationship was by no means perfect. One perspective brought soaring mystery and suspense while the other offered dark thrills and powerful messages without feeling preachy, so I’m here for both in their own way.
Like the main characters, our secondary characters have depth and dimension of their own. I was surprised with how attached I got to some of them (Maris is my homegirl!) and so shocked by how my impressions of them changed over time. I imagine some of them will play a much bigger role in the next book and I can’t wait to see how.
The setting of the story is rich and delicate versus brutal and wild. In Nomi’s world, it’s all old-fashioned royal courts filled with glamor but smothered by submissive etiquette, politics, and aggressive pageantry. Serina’s prison is a volcanic island where the land itself is one of the very real dangers she faces. The descriptions of both are strong and captivating, making the juxtaposed worlds feel vast and troublesome in their own ways.
BUT BUT BUT… what will really get you are the twists! If the descriptions of the novel seem a little vague to you, that’s because (like me), the publisher is trying not to spoil the twists that keep this sisterly adventure fresh and fascinating! Tracy Banghart does an excellent job revealing things precisely when she wants to. In one case, there’s no warning and the twist is just right there. In the other, there’s a hint in the final moments that gave me that “Oh no no no no no” feeling, in which I knew exactly what the character was walking into but they didn’t. It left my brain cringing and reeling at all once.
If that wasn’t enough, this novel ends with a delirious cliffhanger that already has me begging for the next. It’s okay. I’m fine. I can make it another year or so. I’m fine. I swear.
I highly suggest you share my pain and check out Grace and Fury now!
RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.
Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace – someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir’s eye, it’s Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.
Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.