*Spoiler free, but spoilers for The Devouring Gray*
Though the Beast is seemingly subdued for now, a new threat looms in Four Paths: a corruption seeping from the Gray into the forest. And with the other Founders preoccupied by their tangled alliances and fraying relationships, only May Hawthorne seems to realize the danger. But saving the town she loves means seeking aid from the person her family despises most–her and Justin’s father. May’s father isn’t the only newcomer in town–Isaac Sullivan’s older brother has also returned, seeking forgiveness for the role he played in Isaac’s troubled past. But Isaac isn’t ready to let go of his family’s history, especially when that history might hold the key that he and Violet Saunders need to destroy the Gray and the monster within it. Harper Carlisle isn’t ready to forgive, either. Two devastating betrayals have left her isolated from her family and uncertain who to trust. As the corruption becomes impossible to ignore, Harper must learn to control her newfound powers in order to protect Four Paths. But the only people who can help her do that are the ones who have hurt her the most. With the veil between the Gray and the town growing ever thinner, all of the Founder descendants must put their grievances with one another aside to stop the corruption and kill the Beast once and for all. But maybe the monster they truly need to slay has never been the Beast…
This is definitely a quiet book, but that doesn’t make it any less incredible. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of The Devouring Gray. My review was basically just me screaming about it, I made a hoodie for it, and I was lucky enough to interview the author! I loved it so much that I even traded a Shadow And Bone ARC (personalized to a Michelle but still) for it! Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to this book. Trigger warnings: grief, generational trauma, gore, body horror, brief physical abuse
I am very happy to report that this book was just as good as The Devouring Gray and a fantastic conclusion to this duology.
It’s hard for me to find the words that describe how much I loved this book. It’s the kind the book that’s gut wrenching and sucks the words right out of my mouth. I want to push the feelings this book gave me out because it’s just so much in the best way. It’s the creepy woods, it’s dealing with grief and trauma and pain, it’s the disaster woods kids, it’s secrets long buried, it’s plot twists, it’s a cat, it’s flesh trees, it’s many different kinds of tears, it’s getting ready to fight for what will make things better. Alright, time to try and talk about this book.
First off, we get May and Issac’s POV! I wasn’t expecting May to get a point of view, but I am very glad she did. She wears a lot of pink, is full of hardcore grit, and is very, very angry. She wants to be heard after a life of being unheard. Issac is incredibly dramatic and very sad. Both of their stories were full of healing and coming to terms with the people that they are.
Violet and Harper both have POVs as well! I still love them so much. Harper is still incredibly badass and Violet is still very sad, but full of gritty fire. Justin doesn’t have a POV, but I still loved him. I also realized that he could look something like Dimitri from Fire Emblem: Fire Houses and that kind of blew my mind. He’s also aching with so much feeling and trying so hard to make things right.
I think one of my favorite parts of this book was how healing was weaved throughout every single characters stories. All of them are different, but none of them are wrong. Grief and trauma are talked about very candidly, along with all the complicated feelings that come along with that. It felt very raw and very real and it was just something I really liked.
THERE ARE FLESH TREES. I know that sounds very gross, and it is, but wow is it impactful. The Gray is very different this time around. While I loved the creepy stillness and washed out Gray of the first book, the Gray in this book is corrupted and full of weird substances. Alright, I’m going to stop myself there because I don’t want to fall into spoilers territory. But this Gray is still terrifying and fully creepy.
The romantic relationships was also something that I really, really loved. Some of them didn’t work out like I thought it would and honestly in kind of a shocking way, but in a way that was incredibly healthy. Some of it broke my heart, but it was the best thing that could have happened for the characters involved. There was also lots of kissing!
Honestly, all the relationship dynamics were so healthy in this book. Healthy boundaries, healthy goals, healthy ways of thinking about things. Healthy communication too. There’s forgiveness and there’s a lack of forgiveness; both of which are fine. There’s the work that needs to be put into making things better and the communication and boundaries that need to be there for things to get better. There’s just so much in this vein and it was wonderful to see.
AND THE PLOT TWISTS. I don’t want to go into too much depth because it’s very deep into spoiler territory, but just know that it is very well done. It takes everything that the Gray is and it takes all the secrets and pain and history and shoves into one huge, monumental thing.
Four Paths Highschool’s mascot is also canonically a tree.
The writing was also something really cool. It felt silver, which is weird, I know, but it’s true. It digs so deeply into everything and I think it makes the book that much stronger.
I love the disaster woods kids so much. I love the Gray. I love all the causal queerness. I loved the kissing. I loved the talk of healing and pain and messy emotions. I loved Harper being badass with her sword. I loved the cat. I loved Issac being dramatic. I loved so much about this book.
Thank you for reading!