Friday, November 23, 2018

Book Review: Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Title: Grace and Fury (Grace and Fury #1)
Author: Tracy Banghart
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
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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.

Grace and Fury caught my attention when I heard people describe it as both fantasy and dystopia, two of my favorite genres. This book is set in a world where women don't have rights and live solely to fill the preexisting roles laid out for them. And this book is an amazing feminist fantasy.

Nomi and Serina are sisters. Serina has prepared her whole life to be a Grace, but at the last moment the heir to the throne chooses Nomi instead. From there the two sisters are set on completely different paths and Serina finds herself fighting for her life.

These two characters were complete opposites, but both were incredibly strong. I loved that neither fit the stereotypes you would expect upon first being introduced to them. They both took the hands they were dealt and did everything they could to make their worlds better. There are, of course, love interests, but I loved the characters individually and sibling relationship even more than the romance. I am also happy to say that romance didn't play a major role. Still, it was nice to see a book classified as feminist do a good job of balancing the romance and the female relationships without sacrificing either.

The world building in Grace and Fury was also really well done. Much of the story takes place between the palace where Nomi lives and the island where Serina has been imprisoned, but even with the limited setting, I felt like I had a good feeling for the world. The hopelessness the women feel is tangible and it's heartbreaking to see how resigned they have become to it.

As much as I enjoyed this book, I'll admit that it did start off a bit slowly for me. It was also a bit forgettable. Although I really liked it while I was reading it, I did have to look back at my notes to remember character names and key points for this review and that's never a great sign. Still, I'll be picking up book two to see what happens because that ending left me wanting!