Grace & Fury – Tracy Banghart

2 stars

I wanted to like Grace and Fury so much more than I actually did. I’d heard such great things. “A fierce, feminist read!” “SO much fun!” “Compelling characters!” and found none of it to be true.

36546635.jpgIn a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.

Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace – someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir’s eye, it’s Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.

Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.

The world Serina and Nomi live in is frustrating and sexist as all get out – which I expected from the synopsis. It’s loosely based on Italy and Pompeii, and had really interesting elements. It was a solid foundation for an interesting story.

Grace and Fury certainly has a strong argument to be made for being a strong, feminist story, unfortunately the feminist elements made for a predictable read. Exactly none of the “twists” in Grace and Fury were surprising. It was delightful to see women supporting women and taking power into their own hands, but it was so predictable as to be boring. A particular twist at the end had me throwing my hands in the air exclaiming “WELL DUH!”

That being said, there were some great elements to Grace and Fury I wanted to call out. Serina is chubby. She is not lithe and thin, she is a Rubenesque beauty, with curves – which is the ideal in this universe. As an aspiring Grace, she is expected to live to the cultural ideal, so it was refreshing to find a cultural ideal that wasn’t stick-thin. (That being said, she’s chubby not fat which is a distinction, so I can’t really call it fat-rep.)

I appreciated the accurate-feeling portrayal of women’s oppression, and how hard it is to fight the status quo, and how awful the consequences for doing so can be.

All that being said, Grace and Fury was an unsatisfying, predictable read. If you’re looking for a feminist book where your every narrative expectation will be met with no surprises, Grace and Fury is that book.

Thank you to Little, Brown for providing  me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review. 


The Girl in the Green Silk Gown – Seanan McGuire

4.5 stars

I am TRASH for anything Seanan McGuire writes and Rose Marshall is no exception. I’m dying for more already.

Cover from Goodreads

The second book in the Ghost Roads series returns to the highways of America, where hitchhiking ghost Rose Marshall continues her battle with her killer–the immortal Bobby Cross.

Once and twice and thrice around,
Put your heart into the ground.
Four and five and six tears shed,
Give your love unto the dead.
Seven shadows on the wall,
Eight have come to watch your fall:
One’s for the gargoyle, one’s for the grave,
And the last is for the one you’ll never save.
For Rose Marshall, death has long since become the only life she really knows. She’s been sweet sixteen for more than sixty years, hitchhiking her way along the highways and byways of America, sometimes seen as an avenging angel, sometimes seen as a killer in her own right, but always Rose, the Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Green Silk Gown.

The man who killed her is still out there, thanks to a crossroads bargain that won’t let him die, and he’s looking for the one who got away. When Bobby Cross comes back into the picture, there’s going to be hell to pay—possibly literally.

Rose has worked for decades to make a place for herself in the twilight. Can she defend it, when Bobby Cross comes to take her down? Can she find a way to navigate the worlds of the living and the dead, and make it home before her hitchhiker’s luck runs out?

There’s only one way to know for sure.

Nine will let you count the cost:
All you had and all you lost.
Ten is more than time can tell,
Cut the cord and ring the bell.
Count eleven, twelve, and then,
Thirteen takes you home again.
One’s for the shadow, one’s for the tree,
And the last is for the blessing of Persephone

Bobby Cross is a mostly-off screen villain and boy do I want to run that jerk over and give him a taste of his own medicine. Stalker-dude schemes to get Rose once and for all, and if he weren’t actually good at it, it’d be comically cliche.

Rose has been dead for so long she can’t cope with the problems of the living and oh, does she describe them to us in all their squishy detail. To thwart Bobby’s schemes, and he’s got them coming and going, Rose will have to team up will familiar allies and familiar enemies. There’s a lot on the line if she doesn’t pull this off.

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown is more linear than Sparrow Hill Road, which makes sense once the story gets going. Time doesn’t mean much to the dead. Despite being more linear, it’s no less melancholy, romantic, nostalgic and full of moments both heartwarming and heartbreaking. You might want to have a box of tissues nearby.

I do have to note, I knocked off half a star in this rating because the ending was abrupt. We were truckin’ along and then suddenly there are no more pages, no more story and it was as if Seanan had slammed on the brakes, turned off the car, jumped out and run down the road with her hands in the air, leaving me stunned in the passenger seat with a minor case of whiplash.

That aside, I still LOVED the story, and am looking forward to a third book in the series (I hope, oh goodness please tell me there’s another!)