Book Review: THE DEVOURING GRAY by Christine Lynn Herman

The Devouring Grey.png
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4.5 stars
Series: Yes - book 1


the devouring gray

After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn’t: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.

Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray—a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn’t yet know.

The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families’ abilities—before the Gray devours them all.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


This is the second thing I’ve enjoyed recently that’s been compared to Stranger Things (the first being Susan Dennard’s The Luminaries, a chose your own adventure she’s been running on twitter). I guess this means I need to watch Stranger Things now?

Honestly, it didn’t sound much like my kind of thing. I read THE RAVEN BOYS (an accurate comp title on the cover) as it was published, and had mixed feelings about it. I thought I was over mysticism in the American countryside (where I feel so out of place) and tarot. Everything seems to contain tarot these days (looking at you, LEGENDARY).

Then I read this book.

I might still be over tarot, but not strange goings-on in the American Countryside. It was a very creepy, atmospheric read. I wanted to unearth all the town’s secrets, and shove the characters into a room to work things out. Herman’s method was a) more realistic and b) better as it allowed plenty of time for feelings to meddle with the plot (as well as lots of tension).

The characters feel so life-like, with all the baggage you’d expect from a life time in a place like Four Paths. Not to mention the criss-cross of their lies and lives with another. As for the strange wood (the Gray), thank goodness it’s a semi-parallel-world-cum-prison and not an actual wood.

The founders powers were really cool, not the usual powers you’d expect in a book. I enjoyed the slow reveal of what certain characters could do and how it all wove into the story.

Something I found a little strange was the use of ‘the white girl’ when Violet was describing Harper at their first meeting. Harper has several distinctive features – from her missing left hand to the commonly referred to (in the second half of the book) blonde hair. But this was the crucial (and only) descriptor Violet latched onto when they first meet. It’s not until far later in the scene that any other physical traits are mentioned. A similar thing happened at least one more time that I can remember, but this was the scene where it pulled me out entirely.

Edit: so I realise the above is a way that white writers often describe characters of colour. It’s definitely something I need to be aware of as I read.

I went into it thinking that it was a standalone – even the little widget on the side of Goodreads didn’t mention a sequel. However, on visiting the book’s page, I’ve discovered there is a sequel in the works. Yay!

Read my reviews of other books by Christine Lynn Herman:

The Devouring Gray (this series):

With Amanda Foody:

All of Us Villains:

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