Strange Grace

Strange Grace

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 devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of th...

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Title:Strange Grace
Author:Tessa Gratton
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Strange Grace Reviews

  • Julie Zantopoulos

    In a town free of illness or bad fortune, a deal has been struck with the devil. Their easy living comes at a price, a saint who enters the woods every seven years, seldom to return. What happens in those woods is a mystery. We follow a trio of amazing characters united in their love for one another, Mairwen, a Grace witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a moody outcast who will each have a role to play as the devil demands a heart be sacrificed to the forest to fill the bargain.

    This boo

    In a town free of illness or bad fortune, a deal has been struck with the devil. Their easy living comes at a price, a saint who enters the woods every seven years, seldom to return. What happens in those woods is a mystery. We follow a trio of amazing characters united in their love for one another, Mairwen, a Grace witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a moody outcast who will each have a role to play as the devil demands a heart be sacrificed to the forest to fill the bargain.

    This book is EVERYTHING I wanted Uprooted and Sawkill Girls to be! This is the scary forest and the devil in the woods that everyone should fear. This book captures the spooky remote town and mob mentality vibe so well and those two things terrify me. The setting is rich, the writing is stunning, and the characters are phenomenal. I adore some of the side characters, too (Haf for life).

    This town sacrifices strong boys and there's a discussion about toxic masculinity that I was living for! Arthur has some trauma in his childhood that has him acting overly rough and Mair calls him in it in beautiful quote worthy moments. There are strong women, brave women who feel called to action and don't back down and I adore that, also. Mair is brave and bold and she doesn't shy away from sexuality, power, or magic. She's freaking amazing!

    Not only does Tessa deliver on the spooky setting but she also offers up an amazing relationship between Mair, Rhun, and Arthur that made me feel all the feels. We got a YA polyamorous relationship that is legit goals. Ruhn and Arthur are precious and Mair is so freaking strong and amazing with both of the boys. I legit couldn't love them more.

    My one complaint with this book is that there were predictable parts of the story, especially at the climax where I wished that Tessa would do something a bit more unexpected. Did she write the scenes and ending well, absolutely, but it didn't feel incredibly original. That said, this book is still stunning and I'll be grabbing myself a finished copy for sure and I 11/10 would recommend for a witchy/spooky or just highly atmospheric and diverse read.

    Trigger warnings for death, murder, graphic imagery of wounds/cuts, harm to animals (? kinda lol). It's a dark book, guys. Go in knowing it's about a devil and a creepy wood with a lot of psychological mind f**ks. It's hard to pinpoint exact triggers but just know that it's dark.

  • Melanie

    I’ve read over one-hundred books so far in 2018, and

    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 per

    I’ve read over one-hundred books so far in 2018, and

    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.

    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?

    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.

    - 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.

    - 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.

    - 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.

    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

    .

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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

    , 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

    , 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

    a read. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

    But this being said, I went into

    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.

    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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    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

    at

    ,

    at

    , &

    at

    ! ❤

    My amazing friend,

    , got me this book signed for my birthday, and then Tessa

    a picture of her actually signing it, and I'm a soft and weak fangirl mess:

  • Riley

    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 f

    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,

    . 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.

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

    : daughter of the current Grace Witch and a previous saint who was sacrificed to the forest

    : raised as a girl because his mother wanted to save him from ever being sacrificed. now determined to prove himself as the best boy

    : 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.

    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.

  • Madalyn (Novel Ink)

    Excuse me... how dare this book be so perfect??? If you’re looking for an atmospheric, spooky read this October, THIS IS IT, PEOPLE. Also, polyamory. I love everything about this book.

  • destiny ♎ [howling libraries]

    I have a

    of feelings about this book.

    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.

    I have a

    of feelings about this book.

    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.

    First, let’s talk about some pros. This book makes for a fantastic fall read, especially if you’re looking for something involving

    The entire mood of this book felt to me like it could have been filmed on the set of the film

    , is what I’m getting at here—and that’s a good thing. I adored the

    , 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.

    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.

    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

    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

    appeal (but take me with a grain of salt here, as I may just be taking things a bit too personally).

    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

    . I loved getting inside of his head, even when he broke my heart with his own

    . Rhun and Mairwen, on the other hand, while both lovable, never felt

    While it may sound like I was disappointed by quite a bit (and trust me, I was), the reason I didn’t hesitate to

    is because of the

    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

    (implied bi/pan),

    (bi/pan, trans spectrum/implied enby), and

    (we know he’s queer, but I strongly feel that he is

    ). 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.

    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,

    There’s so much time spent describing repetitive things (which doesn’t help with the

    in the middle of the book) that could have benefited tremendously from being spent on character development or world-building.

    this is quite likely one of the

    4-star ratings I have ever given,

    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.

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

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    Buddy read with

    !

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    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.

    First of all, god, you guys,

    The tone that feels like a blend of

    a

    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.

    First of all, god, you guys,

    The tone that feels like a blend of

    and

    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

    nonbinary, Mair is also implied to be bi/pan.

    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

    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

    treats it as normal

    , 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

    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

    , 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

    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

    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

    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:

    I kissed Arthur

    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

    .

    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

    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.

    [

    Sep 18th 2018.]

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  • Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    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)

  • Hamad

    This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found

    🌟 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 synops

    This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found

    🌟 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.

  • Candace Robinson

    This was a very interesting story and strange would be a great word to use, because strange things are awesome! My favorite kinds of stories involve forests, ones where there are things hidden within.

    I thought the author did a good job with the love between the three characters. It was a beautiful thing! Arthur was definitely my favorite, and my goodness did I feel for him. He was angry at times, and he had a right to be! He had a right to be confused, and I wanted to give him a great big hug.

    My

    This was a very interesting story and strange would be a great word to use, because strange things are awesome! My favorite kinds of stories involve forests, ones where there are things hidden within.

    I thought the author did a good job with the love between the three characters. It was a beautiful thing! Arthur was definitely my favorite, and my goodness did I feel for him. He was angry at times, and he had a right to be! He had a right to be confused, and I wanted to give him a great big hug.

    My favorite scenes were some within the forest, awesome world building with perfect description. It makes me want to venture there, but kind of not at the same time! Overall, a unique book that is sure to be a hit!

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