The Devouring Gray
by Christine Lynn Herman
“Welcome to Four Paths. Nobody would ever stay here if they had a choice.”
Published April 2, 2019 by Titan Books
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Date finished: April 1, 2019
Content warnings: loss of family members, animal death, mild gore
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?
My thoughts (spoiler free)
Set in a small town in upstate New York, The Devouring Gray follows a group of teenagers descended from the town’s founders who have to team up to prevent an ancient beast from breaking free.
Everyone seems to love this book! I’ve heard nothing but great reviews! I don’t know what I’m missing!
First of all, let’s talk about the characters. This is definitely a character focused book, which is exactly how I like my urban fantasies to be.
Violet Saunders is the new girl in town who comes in without knowing anything about her family’s heritage. Justin and May Hawthorne, brother and sister, are basically the town’s golden kids. Isaac Sullivan is the broody loner and Justin’s best friend. Harper Carlisle is the pariah who feels invisible even in their tiny town.
Each of these characters is interesting in their own way, though I never felt quite as connected to them as I wanted. Plus, I could tell that the author was setting up for some romance, and while I didn’t hate any of the couples, I also didn’t really care about any of them – oops.
Basically, this book felt like it had a lot of potential which, at least for me, it didn’t reach.
For example: the plot was interesting. There were twists that I didn’t see coming and clever bits of foreshadowing; there was a beginning, a middle, an end, and everything you need to make a solid plot. But I wasn’t getting much tension throughout.
In a book, you expect there to be rises and falls of tension, right? I could see where those rises were supposed to be, but I wasn’t feeling them at all. I don’t know if it was my own failure to connect with the writing or something else entirely. Whatever it was, I rarely cared that much about what was going to happen next.
Plus, we spent a bit too much time not knowing what was going on even when the characters did. I can understand withholding information from the audience for the sake of mystery, but it reached the point where I was confused because I hadn’t been given an important piece of the puzzle.
All those complaints aside, I did think the author did an incredible job with evoking the atmosphere. The moments when I was the most invested were when we got vivid descriptions of the woods, making them feel alive and sinister. The spookiness factor was top notch and made me understand the comparisons to Stranger Things!
For a debut novel, this isn’t bad – there are some interesting characters, a creepy setting, and some great setup for the next book in the series. I just don’t think I’ll be reading that! And since everyone else seems to be loving this book, maybe in the end it’s not you, it’s me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Anyway, this book is out now and if it sounds interesting to you at all, you should go check it out!
*ARC PROVIDED BY NETGALLEY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. QUOTES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.*
“People could hurt each other without being monsters. And they could love each other without being saints.”