Review of Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman

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…
 

I was so ready to return to Four Paths, The Devouring Gray was a stand out read for me last year, and I could’t wait to get back to it’s forests full of secrets and twists. If you can read book one again before picking this up, then I would really recommend that you do, it took me a beat to get back in the mindset and remember which character came from which founder and what their powers were, it’s not essential but I think I would have been absorbed by the world more fully had things been fresher in my mind. The one thing The Devouring Gray left me with was questions, honestly, I got answer’s in abundance in what is probably the most satisfying conclusion to a story I’ve ever read.

With the presence of the corruption comes a ticking time bomb that drives the story forward in a way full of urgency. The group must find answers whilst also traversing the messy and fragile emotional connections they have made, trying to find their way together following the conclusion of book one. There are power struggles and a strong sense of morality which ultimately leads them down the same path, even if they take different roads to get there. I also enjoyed that the Beast takes their own little dig at how they can’t keep up with the ever changing friendships between them. Breadcrumbs of a story to follow are left in respect of the lives of the founders themselves and I really enjoyed each discovery and revelation as the pieces of the true history start to lock into place. It really is one hell of a ride so you’ll need to hold on tight for it. The only thing about their investigations that frustrated me was that every time the main four discovered something huge, their parents were all like “yeah we knew that – oops guess we should have told you.” As a parent, I can totally understand wanting to shield your child, for me it would have worked better if some of what they discovered came as a surprise, especially given just how great the interference from Augusta is in adjusting peoples memories.

Isaac remains my favourite character of them all, beautiful, sorrowful boy that he is. The return of Gabriel brings with it the truth behind what happened that fateful day at the Sullivan manor and it will break your heart just a little bit more for him. All the characters really come into their own in this book, they’re sensitively written and the weight of responsibility against trying to make sense of their own feelings is incredibly well balanced. Their time in the Gray feels more naturally part of the story this time which becomes clear why as we move forward, but the relationship feels more symbiotic as May explores her power with the cards through the roots of the Hawthorne tree. I really felt drawn to May in these moments, her readings of the cards and how they relate to players in the story was interestingly done, especially when her father returns to the scene. Harper I felt for greatly, displaced from her home and then pulled between the Saunders and the Hawthorn’s, she knows she needs help with controlling hew new found powers but knowing who to turn to to not be used for personal gains is just so much for her shoulders. I do feel that the emotional strength she obtained through her ritual really helped her through this. Violet, so much the focal point of book one did feel a little like a sidekick this time round sadly.

The Deck of Omens, is an incredibly hard book to review though because on almost every page there are spoilers, so I hope I’ve been able to convey how much I enjoyed the story and characters without giving anything away. I felt that everything was wrapped up beautifully, with spectacular answers to earlier questions and as I said at the start a wonderfully satisfying conclusion.

A huge thank you to Titan books for providing a finished copy for review – Deck of Omens is out now!

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