Book Review: THE DECK OF OMENS by Christine Lynn Herman

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4.5 stars
Series: yes - second book of duology
CW: drinking, domestic violence



book cover for THE DECK OF OMENS: neon sign like title above a pink roundel nestled in trees

The teenagers of Four Paths must save their home. 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… 

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Reading this in Autumn was definitely the best choice. Even though it was released in April, it’s just so autumnal (yes, it’s set in the winter, but still). From the atmospheric forest to the magic system, it’s a book that demands to be read curled up as the nights get longer and colder. I finished it off rather late at night, and it managed to infiltrate my dreams.

It’s not the direct sequel that follows a cliff-hanger that you often see in duologies. While it certainly follows on from the first book, picking up story threads, the focus is somewhat different – which was really nice. I love both cliff-hanger-so-it-feels-like-one-book and the slightly more distinct books duologies, but the latter makes the books feel more complete on their own.

While the story matter itself certainly contributes to the atmosphere, a lot of it is the writing I think. The prose just dripped vibes, tightly woven around the plot and characters. It’s a pretty dark book (there’s a full list of content warnings on the author’s website), with a dangerous, glittering edge feel in the writing.

THE DECK OF OMENS was soo hard to put down (which was very good as most of this was read while waiting around in a hospital). The story is captivating, full of twists and turns as the town and characters’ secrets are slowly revealed. The pacing of the reveals was so well done, spreading them out so that the tension rises, but also not making them feel like they were being held back for tension alone.

The major twist/secret about the town and its founders felt rather typical of YA. There’s just this certain idea that I see in most books these days – it’s not what it seems; they’ve been lying about it the whole time – and it’s getting rather same-y. While it didn’t massively impact my reading of the book, I do rather wish that some other twist had been selected to really help set it apart.

Harper and Violet return as POVs, but instead of Justin, May and Isaac get to narrate. I was so glad to see Isaac as a POV, as I really wanted to see his side in THE DEVOURING GRAY as he was one of the most compelling characters in that book (and he does not disappoint here either). It took me a bit of time to get used to May rather than Justin – she is much more central to the story than he is.

Overall, it’s a great end to the duology, a solidly written debut series that makes me excited for what Christine Lynn Herman writes next.

Read my reviews of others books by Christine Lynn Herman:

The Devouring Gray (this series):

With Amanda Foody:

All of Us Villains:

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