Fantasy

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. 

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