the devouring gray & the deck of omens – christine lynn herman | duology review

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman


Series: The Devouring Gray #1
Published April 2nd 2019 by Titan Books
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Horror
Representation: LGBT, Disability

Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Synopsis:

On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?


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Many have described The Devouring Gray as a mix of The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater and Stranger Things, the former I’ve read and the latter I’ve not watched. The eerie atmosphere of The Devouring Gray makes it a fantastic choice for a Halloween read. Set in a quiet, mysterious small town, secrets seemed even deadlier.

Four Paths is shrouded in mystery and scandalous events. When Violet Saunders returned to this peculiar town, she realized there was more than it seems. There she met the other founding descendants. In the Hawthorne family, there are May and Justin. Issac is the only Sullivan in town. Harper Carlisle is in the last founding family.

Each character has their own dark secrets and is battling their internal dilemma between truth and loyalty. Together, they have to defeat the beast from the Gray that has been terrorizing Four Paths for decades. All of them have an interesting family background that intertwines with the town. Unfortunately, I couldn’t truly connect with any of them.

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Do not enter the next review unless you want to be spoiled for The Deck of Omens!
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The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman


Series: The Devouring Gray #2
Published April 21st 2020 by Titan Books
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Horror
Representation: LGBT (bisexual MCs), Disability

Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Synopsis:

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… 


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trigger and content warnings:
  • coming out (on-page), emotional & physical child abuse, parental abandonment, domestic violence recounted, memory loss (through memory manipulation magic) recounted, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), alcohol consumption & abuse, graphic body horror, physical injury & illness, emesis, scars, mentions of a parent on life-support, death of a brother & sister recounted, death of a mother (off-page), murder & attempted murder, attempted filicide recounted, knife violence including the attempted murder of a child by slitting his throat, strangulation (on-page & recounted), and imprisonment mentioned
  • taken from rachel ☾’s goodreads

Beat the Beast and the Gray so that their town will no longer be terrorized. However, the four founding families are still at odds with one another.

May Hawthorne: Done with being overshadowed by her not-so-perfect brother and underestimated by her controlling mother. Tries to figure out how to be her own person instead of seeking affirmation from her mother. Played an important role with her tarot cards.

Justin Hawthorne: Desperately trying to adjust his feelings of inadequacy and helplessness. Being the only founder with no powers, the once Golden Boy has fallen.

“There’s nothing weak about wanting to skip a step. To heal faster. To erase something terrible.”

Harper Carlisle: After being strangled to death by her own loved one, Harper can’t deal with family for now. Doesn’t know how to use her powers because she was never trained. Carry lots of anger towards the Hawthorne family.

Issac Sullivan: Still coming to terms that he confessed to Justin and still having problems dealing with his only surviving brother, Gabriel. Never understood why his family would abandon him like that. Plus, he’s trying to come to terms with his feelings towards Justin.

Violet Saunders: More open about her sexuality. Developing feelings for someone despite knowing the person’s feelings for another.

The Deck of Omens still had the sinister vibe and darkness surrounding Four Paths and the people in the town. Instead of going down a predictable path, the author’s take on the history behind the small town with a unique twist. The revelations of the founding family and the Gray were shocking. Many secrets were exposed and gradually, openly discussed by the characters.

“So don’t try to be them,” Violet said. “Be you. Whoever you are, whatever strengths you have.”

One aspect that runs through this duology is family. Violet needs her mother to speak the truth while May desires her mother to look at her the way she authentically is, without the veil of her older brother. Harper is pushing her family away because of what her father did. Issac needs to talk to his brother about the truth of the Sullivan ritual.

Everything is multi-layered. Christine Lynn Herman did a great job in concluding the duology. No stone was left unturned and no questions were left unanswered. Her writing was easy to read, and thus, making the complicated plot easier to digest and understand. The history of the town was fully explained by the end.

The Deck of Omens was all about revealing the truth, accepting reality, and understanding their feelings. Not just about defeating the Gray and the Beast, it was also about their powers and their origins, family bonds, romantic feelings, and themselves as individuals.

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