Grace and Fury

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

This is a story of two sisters who end up with very different fates in a world where women have no rights. One sister lives in a palace as one of the many women that gets to stand by the side of the heir to the throne. The other sister is sent to a prison where women are made to fight to the death to survive. There is a strong feminist tone to this novel and it can be somewhat grating at times because it’s pushed a little too hard even when not required for the story, but overall an interesting take on the YA fantasy dystopia.
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The twist was not as surprising as it could have been. I guess it kind of took away from my reading experience, but the two characters were very compelling, and I loved them both!
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An interesting approach to the YA genre, but not a tired re-telling of the same tropes. Would recommend for YA aficionados, teens, and anyone interested in the genre. This would be a good introduction to the YA world for novices.
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My biggest complaint about this novel is also my own fault - I didn't do my research to find out that it's the first in a series. *cry* So, dear reader, this is the first in a series and ends with both sisters in a very precarious position.

The story follows two sisters, Nomi and Serena, as they travel from their poor factory-town home to the capitol for a one-night event. Serena has been training her entire life to possibly become a Grace, one of the Superior's chosen women. Three graces are chosen every three years, and the women are held on a pedestal. They must be beautiful and graceful and obedient, but are revered by the people. The allegory is strong here, y'all.

And yes, as the book continues, we see how much of the story reflects the ways women are treated in patriarchal cultures around the world. These special women are protected from the poverty and violence that wracks the world... but they're also subject to the Superior's whims and desires, including sexually. They can be beaten or jailed or worse at any time. Their position only protects them as long as the Superior wills it.

The Superior is aging, however, and this is the first time that his older son, the Heir, will choose Graces. The Heir doesn't choose Serena, though. He chooses Nomi. Defiant Nomi, who learned to read even though it's against the law. Nomi who is only in the palace to act as Handmaiden to her sister. Nomi who has been chafing at the restrictions of society her entire life.

In the blink of an eye, Serena is caught "reading" and sent to Mount Ruin, a pleasure island destroyed when a volcano erupted and the home of a prison for women. The sister who was willing to do her duty for her family, to be a Grace so that her ailing mother wouldn't have to work, is sent to a desolate and dangerous island where the women are forced to fight to the death for food and water.

Rather than lean into their strengths, Serena and Nomi are each forced to adopt those of their sister. Nomi in the palace, attempting intrigue with the Heir's younger brother, and Serena starting a revolution on the island. As feminist as this book is, I don't think it took the easy way out in creating two-dimensional characters.

I don't want to go further into the plot because there's a lot I could spoil, but I will point out that there's a lesbian Grace and not everyone is white.

TL;DR - This was a solid start to a new feminist series and I'll keep reading.
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In a world where women have few, if any, rights, Serina and Nomi Tessaro have been raised to accept their fate. All her life, Serina has dreamed of becoming a Grace...a pliant, graceful servant of the Heir. It will be an easy life, and it is expected of her. Her sister Nomi doesn't accept that it's her fate to be an uneducated, subservient woman. She hides a secret.....her brother broke the law and taught her to read. When Nomi's secret causes a role reversal between these two sisters, they both have to become strong and fight for what's right......one on an island prison for women and the other while serving as a Grace to the Heir. 

For me, this book was just ok. While I totally understand the point -- women deserve to form their own destinies and have equal rights and opportunity with men -- the plot just seems very contrived. In the past couple of years, stories about women having no rights and being restricted from work, education and simple tasks like reading have just been over-done. I do understand (particularly since I am a woman myself) that this is a hot topic right now. I am just growing weary of the same tired story line. It took me three tries to get through this book. 

On the good side, I do like the characters. The two sisters are witty, intelligent and able to get along despite the fact that they are very different. And, the men are not all portrayed as narcissistic, sexist pigs. There are a few pigs, of course.....but some very redeeming male characters as well. I also like the fact that the book's message is that it's ok to be a smart, intelligent woman. And it's ok to choose to be pretty and graceful......or to be more studious. Either choice is powerful.....and both together -- amazing!

All things considered, I can't say I liked this book though.

I didn't hate the story, but I didn't like it either. I think in this case it's just a matter of this book not being for me. This book is written for a Young Adult audience and just felt a bit juvenile and forced to me. BUT.....I'm 50 years old and nowhere near the age this book is targeting. That being said....I think even a 14-25 year old me would have felt that this story is a bit too contrived to get it's background point across. 

Not every book is for every person. This one is just not for me. There are many, many people who have read it and loved it. I'm glad! It's an important point -- women can be strong, intelligent and live their lives unfettered. Be strong! Be amazing! And....women have a right to their own opinions.....and this time I just disagree with the majority. This story speaks to others though -- and that is always a great thing! 

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Little, Brown Books via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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Out of the frying pan, into the fire...that's pretty much where we are at the end of the book. No spoilers, so I won't say anything more. An interesting book to read in the current political climate right now, where women have no rights and are basically subjugated - no reading or writing allowed, subject to the whims of whatever males happen to choose. There are some definite parallels, and some vibes of Handmaid's Tale, but the story is interesting and its own entity. I had a feeling I knew what was going to happen before we got there, however I was interested enough to continue reading. Overall, I enjoyed the book and would certainly be interested in reading the next one when it comes out!
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In young adult fiction, strong young heroines who help save the world have been a mainstay of such stories for a decade or more. However, this does not mean that authors are overusing this character type. If anything, given the headlines these days, women of all ages need these heroines to remind us to keep fighting no matter how exhausting or painful it is. They remind us that all revolutions start small, and all it takes to grow is that one person to stand up for what is right. In this regard, Nomi and Serina are two more great examples of women fighting the good fight.

What makes Grace and Fury stand out from a crowded field of similar novels is the anger simmering beneath the surface of the story. While Nomi's anger is upfront, it is the anger underneath that fuels the narrative. As both girls gain more exposure to their new homes, they begin to understand just how angry women are at their enforced situations. They also begin to recognize the machinations that exist solely to keep women submissive. As their awareness grows, so does the antagonistic energy that surrounds each woman with whom the girls interact, until eventually, neither girl can ignore the suppressed truth.

In many ways, one can relate what happens to the sisters to current headlines. Just as the girls become more aware of the undercurrents of tension in their fictional world, there is an anger among women in the real world which is only beginning to surface. Serina and Nomi gain greater understanding and knowledge of their lack of rights, but women everywhere are fighting to maintain theirs. Both groups face a firmly entrenched patriarchy that has generations of traditions, social mores, and other insidious forms of subjugation of which so many of us have never been consciously aware. The worlds may be different, but the enemy we face remains the same.

Grace and Fury is not perfect. In fact, the story is highly predictable, and the big plot twist is so obvious that there is no surprise. However, it remains an excellent story if only because it is inspiring. In the real world, women are angry and have been since November 2016. If it takes a fictional pair of sisters to create the spark needed for women to move beyond anger and into action, then I welcome it with open arms.
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Beautiful, tragic, exciting, royal, the list goes on. I could not get ENOUGH of this novel!! Anxiously awaiting the sequel!
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I loved this book! The full review will be posted soon at kaitgoodwin.com/books! Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity to connect books to their readers!
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This book surprised me in some really interesting ways. I don't know how important magic is to the plot, really, so it's only fantastical in the way that works like "Swordspoint" are fantastical--it takes place in a world which is not our world, and the dominant culture is one which hints at feudalism or monarchy. But all of that's an aside to the real story, which has to do with two sisters who have prepared their whole childhoods for very specific roles at court, only to have those two roles switched. I don't know which was more fun: watching the one sister who has no royal aspirations whatsoever learn to navigate court (and make allies with a great queer character) and try to find ways to smash the patriarchy, or watching the other sister who has done nothing but train to dance and curtsy learn how to survive prison, fight like a badass, and raise an army to smash the patriarchy. Yes, this book ends on one of those annoying cliffhangers which makes it impossible to read this book without depending on its sequels to resolve important plot points, but it's still a strong start. i'm a fan.
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My Rating: 3.5 Stars

I'm back! That's right, two reviews this week. Who is impressed? In all honesty, I'm sick as a dog and reading is the only thing that seems to be keeping my imminent death at bay. What am I sick from, you ask? The worst cold known to mankind. Yes, I may be a bit of a wuss. 

Now, onto the review! Let me start by saying that for a fantasy novel, this was an incredibly quick read, I finished it in one sitting, easily. The words flow smoothly and the pace of the book was pretty quick. It was also a pretty short book for a YA fantasy, it only hit 300 pages. 

Grace and Fury follows the ever changing lives of two sisters, Serina and Nomi. I'll be honest, I wasn't much of a fan of either sister at the beginning. They weren't really great to one another and that impacted my ability to connect to them. However, there was significant character growth over the course of the novel, and by the end I loved Serina and tolerated Nomi. 

Because there are two characters, the romance only has half of the time to develop which made it seem pretty rushed. There were no declarations of love, thank goodness, but things did happen really quickly. I like both girls' romantic interests and look forward to learning more about them in the sequel!

The villain in this book was pretty predictable, and I guessed the plot twist less than halfway through the novel. Though we generally hate on guessable plot twists, they do have one benefit - figuring them out makes the reader feel freaking BRILLIANT. When the twist was revealed and I learned that I had guessed correctly, I felt like the smartest person in the damn world. 

My Takeaway: Overall, Grace and Fury was a nice quick read, the perfect fantasy slump buster. I do wish that the characters had been developed more and feel as though the book could've benefited from about 100 more pages of plot.
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If you want to stoke the fires of revolution in your soul, you should read Tracy Banghart’s Grace and Fury, the story of two sisters who become determined to bring down an oppressive, misogynistic regime.

Grace and Fury is fiercely feminist; the story of sisters Serina and Nomi, who are struggling in a world where women are given no choice. Serina has been training her entire life to be Grace – a woman chosen by the Heir to be a member of his harem – and Nomi has been trained as Serina’s handmaiden. But Nomi has a rebellious side and has never been willing to accept her lot in life. She learns to read – against the law for women – in secret, and when she and Serina are finally in the palace, she steals a book from the library, only to be caught by the Heir and his brother. Startled, she ends up mouthing off to the Heir, and later on is shocked when he chooses her – and not her sister – as a Grace. Meanwhile, Serina takes responsibility for the theft of the book and sent to Mount Ruin, a terrible prison for women where they are forced to fight to the death for rations.

There is a lot that is great about Grace and Fury. It is, as I mentioned, an extremely feminist book, but Serina and Nomi are careless and make a lot of mistakes that end up endangering the innocent people around them. It is the story of the start of a revolution, and though the society described pissed me off, I got more invested the longer I read. The misogynistic society developed because centuries before, a woman seduced and killed the king, and when she was deposed, women were oppressed so that they would never be a “danger” again. No woman is allowed to read, because if they knew how, they would know that the men have been lying to them for years. Nomi has always hated that she has no choice, whereas Serina “chose” to be a willing participant. But Serina’s experiences at Mount Ruin show her that the world is vastly more unfair than she realized. Both sisters separately plan a revolution, albeit very poorly. Motivated by saving each other from a terrible fate, they take chances that they shouldn’t, trust people blindly, and put people they care about in harm’s way.

However, for a feminist book, they did a disservice to its main characters by giving them extremely trope-y romances. Serina was the perfect opportunity to introduce an LGBTQ+ romance, as she is on an island populated almost entirely by women. Instead, she falls for the only decent male guard – extremely quickly, I might add. There is actually an LGBTQ+ character – Maris, one of the other Graces who befriends Nomi. Maris was dating a woman – also illegal in this society – and was forced to become a Grace or her parents would turn her in. She has no idea what happened to her girlfriend, but given how the book ends, we may see a reunion in the second installment. Nomi, meanwhile, falls hard for the first attractive guy that shows any kindness to her, which of course is a very poor decision. And of course, there’s no reason to have romance at all. They’re planning a revolution, for crying out loud. They have more important things to think about.

All in all, Grace and Fury is a decent read. Nomi and Serina were sadly lacking in depth, and though the story alternated between their points of view, they didn’t have a very different voice. The worldbuilding is also not that stellar. But it’s a very gripping story, even if the premise is a little tired, and as I said, I got more invested the further into the book that I got. It definitely got me riled up to bring down society.
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Grace and Fury follows two sisters, older Serina and younger Nomi. Serina has been trained her whole life to be a Grace, or a member of the king's personal harem, and is composed, delicate and submissive. Nomi, on the other hand, has always been the wild child, defying tradition and even breaking laws to do things like learn how to read. Nomi isn't happy about potentially being Serina's handmaiden for the rest of her life, but Serina is looking forward to being selected by the prince to be one of his first "wives." But things go wrong on their first day in the palace and the next thing the girls know, Nomi is a Grace and Serina is banished to an island of criminals to die for a crime she didn't commit. 

Let's just start right here: I fucking loved this book. Yes, the writing isn't as lyrical as Laini Taylor, and the storyline isn't as intricately plotted as Maggie Steifvater, but LISTEN. This is the most feminist fantasy I have ever read. Strong, yet complex sister relationships, female friendships galore, literal rebellions on all sides LED by women, I couldn't ask for better female empowerment in a fantasy if I tried. 

Next, the characters. Serina and Nomi are such amazing women. They start off as your stereotypical brains (Serina) and brawn (Nomi) foils, but because they get thrown into situations completely out of their wheelhouse - Serina into a vicious struggle to survive and Nomi into an intricate political game - they actually learn to become more like each other. Watching them come to view each other differently by thinking about what they would do in each situation was so heartwarming, and the fact that their number one priority was always each other, regardless of what came up (romantic entanglements, literal revolts, etc.) made me so incredibly happy.

Now this book isn't without its faults. I could see one of the plot twists coming a mile away, and I could've done without some of the romantic relationships (particularly Serina's, although I did come to like him in the end), but it's a YA fantasy, so I guess there'll always be those hangups. 

But, overall, this book is fun, feminist and fierce. I commend Banghart for her work in really giving the "females only see each other as competition" idea and the "only one character in a fantasy can be a kickass female" trope the middle finger. I love it, I love it, I love it, why is July 2019 so damn far away because I NEED the next book in my life!
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*Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this title!*

Serina and Nomi Tessaro are sisters, but they don't have a lot in common. Serina has been training her whole life to be a Grace - to stand by the heir to the throne as a vision of a perfect woman. She is more concerned with beauty than brains, and never has to lift a finger. Nomi, on the other hand, has been training to be Serina's handmaiden. Headstrong and impulsive, she has also been studying with her brother - illegally, because girls aren't allowed to be educated.

Unfortunately for both of them, it's Nomi who catches the attention of the heir, and Serina who gets punished for Nomi's big secret. Now, Nomi can't leave the palace, and Serina is living on a prison island where she has to literally fight to survive. So which one is the Grace, and which is the Fury?

My Notes: Fantastic read! Obviously, the subjugation of woman is a key theme here, as evidenced by the author's own dedication ("For every woman who has been told to sit down and be quiet... And who stood up anyway."), and I am all about the girl power. I also love a good fantasy, and this one had an Italian flavor to it, which made it almost a historical fantasy. I'm looking forward to the sequel.
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Serina has been groomed her entire life to become a Grace to serve her king. Her sister Nomi has been trained to be her sisters handmaiden. Their roles are thrown in turmoil when Nomi gets picked to be a Grace and Serina is thrown in prison. I enjoyed following Nomi's story the most and was hoping she would see the betrayal long before it happened. Serina's character development was more intense and I'm looking forward to see how she leads in book two.
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The storyline is unoriginal and the plot is predictable. This story would be best for young readers who are new to the genre or reading and haven’t read this same plot line several times.
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I'm always a huge fan of discovering not just new authors but new series as well.  this first introduction to the world of Serena and Nomi gives us even more than we were hoping for.  It's a slightly different genre than i've been spending time with lately but i think that it's good to have a palate cleanse. 

This story is one where we get to see different perspectives of life since each sister has their own place in society.  There's the element of being put on a pedestal, being treated like royalty and yet they have to conform and not.

there are bits of this story that triggered memories of other series that i've read, where there are constant fights to break the norms and expectations of society, but done with a fresh take and angle that made it really easy to read.  Enjoy!
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This was an interesting start to a new series. I really liked the strong female leads in this, and how the author brought forward the oppression of women in a central way. I loved the sisters’ love for one another, and their drive to protect the other. The alternating POVs was great, and much needed in this novel. It did become a bit slow a somewhat flat in some places, but overall, I would say that it is a solid foundation to the series, and I am interested enough to continue to see how it plays out.
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For me, this book was just okay. I did enjoy reading it which is why I am giving it 3.5 stars, and the feminism was a really nice touch, but overall it just felt like any other YA fantasy. 

I loved the sisters and how much they cared about each other, and pretty much the whole plot revolves around them trying to find a way to save each other. I don’t think that they made very good decisions about how to help each other, and in fact, a lot of their decisions put other people at risk. 

I also really liked that even though it is still a European style fantasy, it was made more unique by having more Italian aspects, which I don’t often see in fantasy novels that I read. 

The main thing that I loved about this book was how it handled the oppression of women and there is a reveal about the history of this particular world and its treatment of women that really intrigued me and I want to see how that aspect plays out.

The biggest disappointment for me was that I guessed the plot twist at the ending, which was not really a surprise to me. That particular plot twist is something that I’ve been encountering more often in YA fantasy (Red Queen, anyone?) that I just don’t think that it is as unique or shocking as I think it was meant to be. Maybe this is just me moving farther away from YA fantasy because they are all so similar, but this just really didn’t stand out among the tons of other books just like it. 

That being said, it was still enjoyable and a fast read, but whether or not I continue on with the series remains to be seen.
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I have to say, the description of this as being a combination of The Selection, Caraval, and The Handmaid's Tale was surprisingly spot on. I thought it might have a slow start that would pick up a ways into the book, but it went very quickly after the "selection" and never let up. I enjoyed both the girl's stories, as you see each of them basically thrown into the other's life and struggling to survive in it. I had a feeling the twist at the end was going to happen (I've seen that trope too many times), but it still works, and I look forward to the sequel.
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