Review of Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

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.

Once in a while a book will really take you by surprise and this was the case with Grace and Fury.  A YA fantasy based on two sisters (one fawning for a prince and the other, not so much) may seem like familiar ground but I found that this book couldn’t be further from the typical.

The world building creates more of a dystopia, a world where women are so downtrodden it is an offence for them to even read.  Given no choice in their existence and very little say in any part of their lives, their future is stark. The way out? To train as a Grace and hope to find favour with the Superior. The life of a Grace however is a gilded cage and is little more than loveless, polygamous relationship with extra dresses.  Indeed, not all prisons have bars.  But for our sisters it is all that Serina has ever trained to be and Nomi to be her handmaid. What starts as a journey full of hope quickly turns to despair for both sisters as all they have ever thought to be gets turned on its head.

The world that has been created is actually quite fraught, even the palace appears to have little joy despite the lavish celebrations. A palace devoid of love and friendship, where everyone is potentially a spy and even the smallest transgression will have you banished to the prison island.  An island which perpetuates the mistreatment of women and reduces them to little more than entertainment, not in the way you would think but brutal all the same. From defiant to demure the character of the sisters change throughout the story, both incredibly naive they are often too slow to put the pieces together but the one thing they have is their love for each other and a fierce determination to change their fates.

It’s not all a tale of downtrodden women though, it is actually very much a tale of bravery, a tale of how women are able to adapt and fiercely defend that which they love. Refreshingly, the lure of boys doesn’t stop them and it was a relief to me that whenever that started to raise its head it was quickly stamped out by their need to put each other first.

The story itself is brilliantly written, the pages just flowed by, pulling you in with every chapter leaving you wanting more and more.  The twists, the misdirection and as a reader the painful realisation of what is coming just a few pages before the sisters do. I was rooting for them every step of each gut wrenching moment.  I desperately want to know what happens next and I truly hope there isn’t a long wait for book 2.

I give this 5 fantastic stars!

 

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