Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart
From Goodreads: In 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.
Thanks to Netgalley for an E-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve been hearing a lot about this book in the build-up to its release, but I haven’t actually heard too much about the synopsis. Recently, there’s been a whole spate of YA books about royalty, and as much as I enjoy that, I’m sort of in a bit of a ‘need something refreshing for a while’ mood. But even with my misgivings, Grace and Fury was a pretty enjoyable book.
I liked the concept behind this a lot– a world where women don’t have rights, and they don’t have much of a chance of a future. I thought it was quite a lot of motivation for the characters to know they were either going to spend their lives in a factory or married to a rich man who told them what to do. And obviously, that kind of world sounds absolutely hideous, and I wouldn’t want anyone to actually live there, but the concept grabbed my attention and held me firm throughout the book. There are moments when this message about female empowerment gets a little blurry– I could have done without some of the male characters dominating parts of the plot and seeming to make all the decisions, but at the same time I realize that this is a series and it makes sense that there’s going to be people in this world who either want to maintain the status-quo or who want change but don’t know how to influence it.
Character-wise, Nomi and Serina were okay. They were both reasonably developed, and they both had quite clear talents and flaws. It might have been nice to see a bit more personality coming across– I feel like Nomi was pretty much defined by her rebelliousness and Serina’s character for much of the book was all about her looks and lack of rebelliousness. There wasn’t much in the way of likes and dislikes or other things that make a character come to life. At least that’s how I felt.
The pace of the story is very good. A lot happens, and the switch between protagonists works well in Grace and Fury because it means there’s always something going on, there’s always an excuse to turn the page because even when Nomi is just wandering around the palace, Serina is in imminent danger and vice-versa. It makes for a compelling and tense read all the way through the book. Admittedly, I have seen that plot-twist ending done before, perhaps more successfully, in other YA books, but I don’t mind too much because it was still entertaining, and I imagine it will spin out in a different direction in book two.
Overall, I’m giving Grace and Fury a 7/10 stars. It was a fun read, and the change of protagonists at the start of each chapter made it flow really well. I’m hoping with book two we’ll see some more character-development and some build on the feminist themes, but it’s already quite a gripping read. If you’re a person who likes plot-driven novels, this is a good one to pick up.
Has anyone else read Grace and Fury yet? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comment section 😀 I love seeing what people have to say about books I’ve read.