Monday, July 18, 2016

Book Review: The Graces by Laure Eve

The Graces by Laure Eve
Publisher: Abrams Kids/Amulet Books
Pub. Date: September 6, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal
Source/Format: NetGalley/e-galley

Goodreads Summary:

In The Graces, the first rule of witchcraft states that if you want something badly enough, you can get it . . . no matter who has to pay. Everyone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They’ve managed to cast a spell over not just their high school but also their entire town—and they’re rumored to have powerful connections all over the world. If you’re not in love with one of them, you want to be them. Especially River: the loner, new girl at school. She’s different from her peers, who both revere and fear the Grace family. She wants to be a Grace more than anything. And what the Graces don’t know is that River’s presence in town is no accident. This fabulously addictive fantasy combines sophisticated and haunting prose with a gut-punching twist that readers will be dying to discuss. Perfect for fans of We Were Liars as well as nostalgic classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the 1996 movie The Craft, The Graces marks the beginning of a new wave of teen witches.

Thank you to Abrams Kids and NetGalley for giving me an e-galley in exchange for an honest review!

This book was at the top of my Most Anticipated Reads of 2016 shelf on Goodreads, first because of the gorgeous cover and second because heck yes fantasy series about teen witches! Needless to say, I was ecstatic when my request was approved on NetGalley! Sadly, though, The Graces fell short of my expectations.

My biggest issue with the book has to do with the main character, a girl who calls herself "River." The book summary isn't kidding when it says River wants to be one of the Graces––a trio of enigmatic siblings––more than anything. It's her defining personality trait, and it gets old really fast. Almost every thought she has revolves around the Graces and how she can infiltrate their circle to become one of them, popular and admired. Every action is done specifically to get the Graces––but especially the youngest Grace, Summer––to like her and see her as one of them. She's completely and utterly obsessed in a way that just made me cringe. She's unlike the typical YA heroine in that her motives are completely selfish, but she never does anything to redeem herself. Her insecurity and all-consuming obsession with trying to become a Grace make her completely unlikeable throughout the whole book. I never rooted for her, and most of the time I was just waiting for the Graces to finally see through her crap and be done with her. The interesting thing, though, is I don't think we're supposed to like her. In fact, the end of book one sets her up to be very much the antihero in future books.

As for the Graces themselves, for all the awe and fear they inspire in the town, they really aren't all that interesting. Rumor has it that their whole family is made up of witches. But apart from a rumor that a boy was possessed during a Ouija game gone wrong at Thalia and Fenrin's eighth birthday party, and Summer's occasional dabbling in minor spells––which the family disapproves of––there's not a whole lot going on to suggest that they're as sinister or mysterious as everyone thinks they are. They come off as snobs more than anything else. I didn't understand the hold they had over River or their classmates.

I might have been able to overlook some of these issues had the plot been more interesting, but it was slow going and didn't really ramp up until about the last quarter of the book. I'll admit that the showdown between River and the Graces was pretty intense, and it did redeem the book at least a little bit. I just wish there had been more intensity throughout the book as a whole.

Final Thoughts and Rating
Sadly, The Graces just wasn't my cup of tea. The plot was too slow and the characters too unlikeable for me to ever become fully invested in the story. I likely won't be continuing the series, but I'm still holding out hope for Laure Eve's other series, Fearsome Dreamer.