Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart
In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi face very different fates: one in the palace, the other on an island prison where women must fight to survive.
Serina has spent her whole life preparing to become a Grace – selected to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining example of the perfect woman.
But her headstrong and rebellious younger sister has a dangerous secret, and one wrong move could cost both sisters everything.
Can Serina fight?
And will Nomi win?
Women had ruled this country. And history had denigrated them. Erased them.
I received this book in the June Fairyloot box, and I’m a little ashamed to admit, but usually when I get a book in a subscription box it goes on my shelf and I don’t ever get round to reading it (the only exception to this so far has been Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody, which was great), and as part of #theunreadshelfproject I’m making a real effort to read the books I already own, instead of constantly buying new ones, and actually reading some of my Fairyloot books has been a part of that.
Sadly, it hasn’t actually stopped me buying copious amounts of new books, but never mind…
Grace & Fury seemed like a really interesting concept to me, so I decided to start The Great Fairyloot Book Read of 2018 with this one. Two sisters, different walks of life, oppressed women standing up and fighting for themselves, rebellion, princes and castles – sounds like something right up my street! Unfortunately, for me, it just fell short of delivering.
(Also, The Great Fairyloot Book Read of 2018 began and stalled with this one…)
I think part of my problem with this was that it felt very similar to Red Queen, which I had only read a couple of months before, so I couldn’t help but compare them. In Red Queen, girls with powers compete to marry the Prince, and in Grace & Fury, girls compete to become ‘Graces’, consorts of the Prince. Both books feature oppressed nations while the royals/elite of society live in luxury, and each has a King who is seen to be a bit of a bastard, and a haughty Prince with a younger brother who befriends the female protagonist to help her topple the monarchy from the inside – see why comparisons are inevitable?
Now, I know Red Queen divides opinions, but I didn’t mind the first one (Glass Sword was a whole other story) and thought it was a pretty fair debut – but Grace & Fury just doesn’t quite match up. It jumps around quite a bit, and the introduction felt very rushed, before we know it we’re at the Palace and then very quickly one sister is being shipped off to the island prison – I feel like the author could have spent more time on the build up. It is quite a short book (just over 300 pages) so we could have had a bit more in the way of world-building.
Women think they’re strong when they’re fighting other women, but when a man fights them, they know the truth.
However, it improves significantly once we reach the island prison – Mount Ruin. In fact, if the rest of the book had been about Mount Ruin and the women imprisoned there, it would have been a much better book. I really enjoyed this part of the story, the different camps and the politics surrounding them, the women of the island and how they fight for supplies and survival was so much more interesting than the same old story about a girl-betrothed-to-a-prince-that-she-doesn’t-like which we’ve all read before. Especially as within the prison we have strong women rising up to fight their male oppressors, which is a story that will always need to be told.
And once again, we are subjected to a severe case of insta-love. Or should I say three cases of insta-love! Seriously authors, it is not realistic to expect people to meet for the first time, fall madly in love and then begin a rebellion all within about 3 chapters – lets give them a chance to get to know each other a bit first shall we? Maybe then there would be less betrayal and back-stabbing that seems to appear as quickly as the infatuation did.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good betrayal, but I generally like them when they’re a bit more slow-burn (can you have a slow-burn betrayal?) – when the character is undercover for more than a couple of weeks and really commits to their role in bringing down society.
Like I say, I really enjoyed the prison storyline, and maybe if I had had more of a gap between reading Red Queen and Grace & Fury I would have enjoyed this more. I did start getting into this more towards the end, and will probably pick up the next one in the series. It was OK, but it just didn’t quite hit the mark for me.
I will say, the dedication was one of my favourites that I have come across recently, good choice Tracy!
For every woman who has been told to sit down and be quiet… And who stood up anyway.
Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart
Published 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton
Read July 2018