Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart
A traitor walks the halls of the palazzo, and deception lurks in every corner.
Meanwhile Serina is running out of time. Imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive, surrounded by women stronger than she is, one wrong move could cost her everything. There is no room for weakness on Mount Ruin, especially weaknesses of the heart.
Thrilling and captivating, Grace and Fury is a story of fierce sisterhood, and of survival in a world that's determined to break you.
Synopsis from Amazon
When I read the synopsis for Grace and Fury I wasn't incredibly excited to read it; it seemed like another fantasy series where the female characters are simply stuck waiting to be rescued. But I didn't want my preconceptions to stop me from reading a book, so I grabbed it anyways. And I'm really happy I did because the story grabbed me much more than I had anticipated. I was impressed with the sisters and very interested with how Banghart has taken things from history to build her fantasy world.
Both Nomi and Serina are forced to find new paths for themselves and learn to fight for their futures in situations that neither are prepared for. Serina is much softer than her younger sister; her entire education was based around being subservient to a man so that she could find a husband. Instead, she's forced to fight to the death and learn to survive on a barren rock that acts as the women's prison. On the flip side, Nomi has learned to read (which is forbidden) and dreams of a life of freedom, but she now has to figure out how to act like a proper "lady" as the prince has chosen her to be one of his women (I honestly just want to call them concubines, because that's clearly what they are). Both women are incredibly compelling and it's great to see them forced to navigate in worlds outside of anything they've known...and excel in them. Throughout it all, they continue to think about and support each other, with both of them reaching of the goal of being reunited. I really can't wait for the next book to find out what happens to them.
Fantasy World Based on a Mix of History
This might have just been my interpretation of it, but I thought that Banghart did a wonderful job creating a fantasy world based on many different cultural histories. While the country seems to be set in an Italian-inspired city (the horse race a direct comparison to Sienna's Palio), the political structure of a king with a long list of "Graces" (let's be blunt about what these women are -- it's a harem of concubines) is reminiscent of 1800s Japan when the Shogun (Japanese prince) who be given a house full of women for his sexual pleasure. I was very intrigued by this blending of cultural and historical events into this new, and incredibly oppressive, world that Nomi and Serina are forced to live in. The most original part (to me) was definitely the women's prison on the isolated and barren island outside the city; it seems like we'll be spending some time there in the sequel, so it will be interesting to see if the sisters are actually able to escape it.
Unsurprising Plot Twist
For all her rebellions and education, I found Nomi to be very narrow-minded and easily manipulated. While trying not to give away spoilers, I'll simply state that I wasn't surprised by the ending of this book and the revelation of who the traitor in the palazzo is. While Serina's storyline seemed more organic (learning to fight and survive on the island), Nomi's felt more forced and I found myself sometimes disbelieving the choices that she was making. Although she figures it out in the end, there was never a moment in her story that I was particularly shocked over...it just seemed very predicable. I may be a bit too hard on her, but I was hoping for a little more originality from Banghart in regards to who the traitor is.
Overall, this was a really exciting beginning to a new fantasy trilogy and I'm excited to find out what happens next. It stinks that there's such a long wait before the sequel comes out, but if it's as exciting and strong as Grace and Fury, then readers are in for a real adventure.
FINAL RATING: 4/5
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Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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2020 Reading Challenge
Alexandra has read 20 books toward her goal of 85 books.
2019 Reading Challenge
Alexandra has read 5 books toward her goal of 90 books.
2018 Reading Challenge
Alexandra has completed her goal of reading 80 books in 2018!
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