The Graces (The Graces #1)
By: Laure Eve
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016
Everyone said the Graces were witches.
They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.
They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.
All I had to do was show them that person was me.
Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?
I was talking with a librarian about the treasure trove of ARCs that dearest Em brought back from BEA–and, to my surprise, she wasn’t nearly as excited as I was. She told me, matter-of-fact and from a position of having been a onetime reviewer for the ALA journal, that there were going to be some duds in the mix. This may be one of them.
As duds go, this one is honestly not all bad. I mean, for one thing, it has a pretty cool cover. Another thing, I didn’t totally regret having taken the time to read this book (although, confession time, I read Beautiful Creatures as a break from the Graces until I got the nerve up to finish). The premise was interesting, although I’m honestly not sure it could have been done with much more panache. Witches are always interesting, although only up to a point when done in a somewhat unoriginal way.
My biggest complaint about the Graces was the pace. The first part of the book dragged. And by dragged, I mean I seriously debated not finishing the damn thing–it took reading ANOTHER BOOK, plus taking a sneak-peek at the ending, to get me to plow through. There was so much exposition of high-school drama, and how much everyone loved the Graces, and how much River despised herself and her crappy home situation. Then, once I finally made it to the interesting parts, I found them to be chaotically shoved into the last third of the book, with what seemed like at least a four-month gap casually placed with no explanation somewhere in there. It seems like the author was too in love with the Graces herself to stop gushing, but then her editor forced her to throw some action in and finish the bloody book already.
I also disliked River as a character. She came off equal parts conniving, needy, desperate and standoffish. We’re given only vague hints about her home situation for most of the book, enough to know that her dad isn’t around and her mom is not the mom River wants her to be, and that for some reason River thinks both are her fault. Her adroit management of the high school pecking order is matched only by her rather pathetic crush on Fenrin. And, of course, there are near-constant hints as to River having some magical power as well, enough that everyone’s denial of said hints was annoying. By the time River finally grew a pair and learned to stand up for herself, there was only one chapter left in the book–too little, way too late.
As much as I disliked River’s character, I did (for the most part) enjoy her interactions with the Graces. She goes from totally worshipping them to acknowledging that there’s good and bad in everyone, although we as the reader had to endure a bit much fawning over them first. I thought Wolf was a compelling character as well, and I wish he’d been more than just a throwaway character. I thought the love geometry was interesting–it juxtaposed the arranged marriages and dire curses of the ‘witching set’ with the chaos of puberty/high school relationships. But, there was an odd sort of simplicity to it. No real questions were raised over a loving mother’s string of lovers or the odd, emotional/physical abuse dynamic going on with one sibling. I also think the gay relationship revealed was supposed to be far more of a shocker than it was for me. But Eve threw out certain phrases even early on in the book that made me think, ‘he’s gay’. And, *sigh*, of course one of the homosexual couple has to die because heterosexuals can’t deal. As much as I appreciate the inclusion of homosexuality in YA, we also need to make sure they aren’t there to make the love triangle more interesting, and then die.
Oh, and let’s also take a minute and talk about mythology. It’s my firm belief that an author has to know their mythology to be successful–just look at JK Rowling. And the amount of myths that Eve was mixing up made things deeply confusing. I mean, from the title, I expected something about Greek Mythology (DEFINITELY not helped by the fact that one of the Graces was named Thalia–unbelievable coincidence, or sloppy lack of research?). And then witches got involved. I’m also going to admit, it’s a bit odd that most of the spells required endless fiddling with silly things OR getting drunk in the woods. Towards the end of the book I was almost reconciled with the odd mythology, and then the name Marcus DAGDA came up and sent me into crazed pondering–why would you torture me so, Laure Eve, unless you had no idea that you were naming a minor character after the primary god of Irish-Celtic mythology?
In three words: research is key.
Looking back, I’m struggling to find things I liked about this book–there were definitely more things I disliked or was puzzled by. The reason it has two stars here is this: I didn’t totally hate it. But, sometimes, maybe that’s enough. I am, however, growing very wary of Amulet Books.
If you like what you read above, please follow using one (or more) of the social media sites in the sidebar!
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.