|Series:||Devouring Gray Series , #1|
|Sold by:||DISNEY PUBLISHING WORLDWIDE -EBKS|
|File size:||16 MB|
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|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Born in New York City but raised in Japan and Hong Kong, Christine Lynn Herman subscribes to the firm philosophy that home is where her books are. She returned to the United States to study at the University of Rochester, where she received the Dean's Prize in fiction and an Honors English degree. Currently, Christine and her books reside in a Brooklyn apartment, along with her partner, many plants, and their extremely spoiled cat. She can be found talking about her writing @christineexists or at christinelynnherman.com.
Read an Excerpt
After they found the third body that year, Justin Hawthorne knelt in his backyard and prepared to hear his future.
His sister, May, dealt the Deck of Omens facedown on the grass between them. The all-seeing eyes on the backs of the five cards stared emptily at the canopy of leaves above. Justin's skin prickled as he studied their irises — white like the eyes of the dead.
He hadn't seen the latest body, but the remains of the corpses spat out by the Gray always looked the same. Eyes bleached the color of milk. The rib cage inverted, bones slicing through bloated skin like antlers rising from the body's back.
"I don't have to ask the cards." May's voice didn't lend itself well to gentleness, but she was trying. Justin hadn't asked for a reading since he failed his ritual. She knew how much it had cost him to ask now.
Because it should've been him commanding the Deck of Omens. Him wielding his family's abilities and protecting their town.
Yet he was helpless. A rotten branch on a healthy tree.
The Gray had grown bolder this year, luring victim after victim into its world, where the Beast hungrily awaited its prey. Justin had believed, foolishly, that coming into his powers would be enough to make it stop.
But he had no powers. And now another man was dead.
Justin wouldn't sit idly by as others died. Powers or not, he was still a Hawthorne. He would find a way to keep Four Paths safe.
His fate lay in the cards.
"Show me," he said, gripping May's hands.
May shut her eyes. A moment later, he felt her familiar presence in his mind — sharp, clear tendrils of intention snaking through his thoughts. He knew she was feeling more than seeing, letting his past and present inform the patterns May could predict in his future.
She pulled away after a few seconds, exhaling softly, her eyes fluttering open.
"They're ready," she said hoarsely, turning the cards over so the all-seeing eyes gazed at ground instead of sky. Justin had barely glanced at the individual cards when his sister hissed with displeasure.
"What ..." A slice of fragmented sunlight turned the glass medallion around May's neck from dull red to flaming crimson as she leaned forward, like a wound opening across her pale throat.
May had read his future dozens of times over the years, for fun, for practice. He had never seen her look so shaken.
His gaze darted to the spread of cards between them.
The eight of branches was centered, of course. Justin's card, painted with the familiar art of a young boy perched on a tree stump, a bundle of sticks in his arms. He hadn't noticed until he was older that there were roots wrapped around the boy's legs, tethering him to his seat.
It only took him a second to understand May's distress. Her card, the Seven of Branches, always sat at his left. But this time, it wasn't in the reading at all. Instead, a card he'd never seen before was nestled beside his. The art was sharp and vivid: a figure standing in the Gray, ringed by trees. Its right hand was flesh and blood.
Its left hand had been stripped down to the skeleton.
The "Founders' Lullaby" rang through Justin's mind. Branches and stones, daggers and —
"Bones," May said flatly, pressing the edge of her polished fingernail against the wood. Her hand was trembling. "It shouldn't — I must've ..." But she trailed off. Even a panicked May would never admit that her mastery of the Deck of Omens was lacking.
"We both know you don't make mistakes." Justin couldn't tear his eyes from the card. "So tell me what it means."
"Fine." May snatched her fingers away. "You'll find a way to help the town. But the process is muddled. Here you've got the Knotted Root, a series of choices with no good outcomes. Pair that with the Shield and it looks like you'll be trying to mediate, as usual. Probably the Three of Daggers's fault, because Isaac is always screwing up somehow —"
"You can't pretend it's not there." The card between them almost seemed to glow, even in the shade. Flesh and bone entwined, a braided line between the living and the dead. "May. Tell me."
May bundled the cards together with a single, practiced flick of her wrists. She shuffled them into the rest of the deck as she gazed over Justin's shoulder. Her light blue eyes were still locked on the trees behind him when she spoke again.
"It's the Saunders family." May rose to her feet. "They're coming back, and I'm telling Mom, and you're not telling anyone. Not even Isaac."
"Wait!" Justin scrambled after her, but May was fast when she wanted to be. Her fingers were already wrapped around the handle of the back door. "What does any of this have to do with me helping Four Paths?"
May's pink headband was askew. For his sister, that was disheveled, but she didn't even seem to notice. "I'm not completely sure I understand," she said. "But you'll have a chance to make a real change in Four Paths once they're here."
This time, Justin let her go.
He stayed in the courtyard for a long while, staring at the hawthorn tree that rose behind him, its gnarled branches stretching across the gabled roofs of his family home like grasping fingers.
For the first time in his life, there would be a real member of every founding family in Four Paths.
He would be a part of that. He would have a chance to change things, to help.
Justin believed this. He had to.
The Deck of Omens had told him so, and unlike the Hawthornes who used it, the Deck of Omens couldn't lie.
Two Weeks Later
It was a single strand of turquoise hair that made Violet Saunders come undone. She was fiddling with her sheet music binder when she caught sight of it, sprouting like a seedling from the space between her seat and the cup holder.
Violet's hands froze on the binder, clammy sweat collecting on the navy-blue plastic. She couldn't concentrate on the highway rolling past the Porsche's windows, or her fingerings for Schumann's Abegg Variations, Op. 1. Her enthusiasm for the piano piece was gone.
One by one, her fingers unpeeled themselves from the binder's edge. Her left hand was creeping toward the hair like a pale, veiny tarantula when her mother silenced her Bluetooth headset.
"You okay?" she asked Violet. "You look queasy."
Violet jerked back her hand. She cranked down the Schumann blasting through her earbuds, trying to hide her surprise — it was the first time her mother had spoken to her in over an hour. "I'm just a little carsick."
Juniper Saunders considered this, tilting her head. The headset on her ear blinked, casting blue light onto her cartilage piercing scars. They were the last lingering reminder of a version of Violet's mother that was long extinct. "Let me know if you need to vomit," she said. "I'll pull over."
Being the target of Juniper's concern made Violet's stomach clench. Her mother hadn't said a thing when Violet quit her piano lessons. But then, she'd barely seemed to notice when Violet painted her bedroom dark red the morning of an open house, either; or after the funeral, when she'd hacked off every bit of hair below her collarbones in a sloppy bob. Yet somehow, Juniper had noticed her distress in the middle of a conference call.
It made no sense, but then, Violet's mother had never made any sense to her at all.
"It's not that bad." Violet raked a nail across the edge of the binder. "The carsickness situation, I mean. I am decidedly pre-puke."
Juniper's headset blinked again. "Do you mind if I get back to this conference call, then? The London office is having a meltdown, and they need me to talk the developers down before things go nuclear."
"Of course," said Violet. "I can't be responsible for that kind of damage."
"I suggest curbing the attitude once we get to Four Paths."
Violet slid the volume up until Schumann blasted through her earbuds again. She knew every phrase, every pause, every fingering — the recording was her playing, after all. "I guess that means I'll have to get it all out in the car."
Juniper rolled her eyes and started talking again, something about a bug in the software her company was developing. Violet tuned her out and sank down in her seat.
Four Paths. The place her mother had grown up, not that she ever talked about it. Juniper never talked about anything — why she'd been so insistent Violet and her sister have her last name, not their father's; why she'd left town after high school and never come back. Not even when her parents died. Not even when her sister, an aunt Violet had never met, started to get sick.
The thought of sisters made Violet sink farther. There was no way they'd be driving back to Four Paths right now if her family hadn't had a nuclear meltdown of its own.
A giant cargo truck roared up on the right side of the Porsche. Violet's heartbeat rammed against the back of her throat as the truck's massive container blocked her field of vision. She'd been out on the road countless times in the five months since Rosie's accident, but trucks like this one still left a cocktail of nausea and fury brewing in her stomach.
She forced her gaze away from the offending vehicle, but then, of course, the hair was still there. Mocking her. Violet stopped her practice recording, put the music binder on her lap, and snatched the strand of turquoise out of its hiding spot.
It was heavier than Violet had expected. As she lifted the hair up, she realized this was because it had been tangled up with the clasp of a thin silver bracelet, which had been wedged between the cup holder and the edge of the car seat. Violet's fingers moved over the filigree rose attached to the bracelet as Juniper continued barking orders into her headset.
The funny thing about grief was that once Violet got past the first few weeks, where she relearned how to sleep and eat and breathe, it was almost harder to function. There were protocols for handling funeral arrangements and overly caring neighbors and therapy. But nothing in all the empty platitudes and wellmeaning advice told her what to do when you found your dead sister's jewelry in a car, months after the rest of her things had been boxed away.
It wasn't even a piece of jewelry Rosie had liked. In fact, Violet had a distinct memory of the way her sister's lip had curled when she'd opened up the box at her sixteenth birthday party. It was a gift from a great-aunt on her father's side of the family, who hadn't seen Rosie and Violet since they were little, who only had a cursory understanding of what teenagers were and how they functioned.
"A rose? Really?" Rosie had said later, when they were in her room, examining the heap of clothes and odd art projects Rosie had received from her friends. "How basic. I mean, I'll wear it to be polite, but it's like one of those necklaces girls wear that have their names on them. Like a dog tag."
Violet agreed with her like she always did, deriding the gift, but she remembered thinking at the time that even though the bracelet wasn't really Rosie's style, at least their great-aunt had tried to connect to them. Juniper hadn't kept in contact with any of their dad's family after he died, and Violet relished every clue about them she could get.
Now she stared at the filigree rose, slightly tarnished from its time in cup holder purgatory.
Oh, what the hell. Violet opened the clasp and tucked the hair into her binder. Then she fastened the bracelet around her wrist, turning the rose until it covered the purple veins that threaded up toward her palm.
It was a cheesy thing to do. Rosie probably would've hated it. But as they turned off the highway, Violet felt a little less alone.
The Porsche turned onto a series of increasingly less crowded side roads, the landscape changing from the busy highway to well-tended farmlands. The farms bled into foliage, and soon the car was surrounded by trees crowding together at the edge of the asphalt, their branches backlit by the early afternoon sunlight. Violet stared out the windshield at a landscape swathed in deep, green-tinted shadows as the music in her ears switched from Schumann to Bach to Chopin.
Something in the trees drew Violet's attention. The definition of the trunks, the vibrancy of the leaves, pulled her focus so thoroughly away from the road and the sky that the branches might as well have been waving in front of the Porsche.
Finally, they turned off onto a winding, badly paved pathway. A sign dangled from an overhanging branch on rusted chains, welcoming them to Four Paths, New York, in scorched black letters.
"They've still got the sign." A half-chuckle escaped Juniper's lips. "You'd think they would've replaced it with something a little more professional by now."
Violet tugged her headphones off. "This has been here since you were in high school?"
"It's been here for as long as I can remember."
This was the first piece of information Juniper had ever voluntarily offered about Four Paths. Violet's throat swelled with a lifetime of unanswered questions as the Porsche rambled past a series of worn-down houses. Reddish-brown bells hung beside every front door, sometimes one or two, sometimes close to a dozen. The wind tossed the bells back and forth, but Violet heard no sound, even when she rolled down her window.
She peered at them, trying to get a closer look, but the car moved on into what had to be the main part of town, if only because the ramshackle houses had turned into ramshackle buildings.
There was no such thing as a chain store here, only a small collection of shops ripped out of a black-and-white photograph. Violet identified the building on the corner as a general store from the peeling gold letters emblazoned across its front. There was a secondhand clothing shop; a dive bar; a grocery store; a public library with a sloping, gabled roof. People loitered in front of a fifties-style diner, tossing cigarette butts onto the pavement. Their heads snapped to attention as the Porsche rolled past them.
Although they'd only left Westchester County five hours ago, Violet felt as if she had been beamed onto an alien planet.
Juniper pointed out the town hall, which was gorgeous and imposing and utterly out of place among its shabbier brethren. The forest spread out wide behind it; stray branches snaked across either side of the roof, reaching for one another. Back in Ossining, Violet's hometown, every tree had felt like an interloper, sprouting stubbornly from loose gravel or growing in fenced-in little boxes on the street. But here, it was the buildings that didn't belong; they merely interrupted the woods.
The only place the trees were absent was a small field behind the town hall. A lone building stood between the meadow and the trees, some distance back from the main road. There was a symbol she didn't recognize on the door: a circle with four lines extending through it, not quite touching in the center, like an inverted cross.
"Is that a church?" asked Violet, examining the way the scalloped marble embedded into the front of the building arched up into a point at the top.
Juniper shook her head. "Four Paths doesn't have churches. It's a mausoleum. Around here, everyone is cremated and buried underground. This serves as a memorial for everyone."
"Creepy," Violet muttered.
Juniper shrugged. "It's efficient."
But Violet couldn't shake her unease at the thought of a town with no church and no graveyard.
After the field, there was another small street of stores, then Main Street receded to houses once more.
"Wait." Violet turned around to stare. The town hall disappeared behind a waving branch. "That's it?"
They were in the thick of the woods now, the car barreling through a tunnel of greenery. Violet tried to take a picture on her phone, but the branches kept coming out blurry.
The Porsche broke through the line of trees. Violet squinted into the sudden assault of sunlight streaming through the windshield. She was still blinking away dark spots when the building before them came into view.
"This is our house?" she asked, and maybe her mother said something, and maybe she didn't. Violet was too focused on the house to care.
It looked the way things do in dreams, ragged and unpredictable and slightly askew. Walls of reddish-brown stone rose above the trees before dividing into three spires, each adorned with a point of corroding iron.
Violet wasn't even sure if the car was parked as she grasped for the door handle and tumbled out onto the driveway. There had been a garden surrounding the house once, but it was hopelessly overgrown now. Violet reached the end of the driveway and clambered up the moss-encrusted stairs to the front porch. "I'm amazed the place is still standing," said Juniper. "It's structurally unsound, you know."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Devouring Gray"
Copyright © 2019 Christine Lynn Herman.
Excerpted by permission of Disney Book Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
“Branches and stones, daggers and bones” is a good way to start a book about newcomer Violet who has just moved to Four Paths, a town protected from a monster with their magical gifts by generations of Founders, which, turns out she is one. The characters in the book are interesting with the monster that kills those that stumble into the gray, is creepy. While I liked this book, it wasn’t quite as engaging as I would have liked, which feels odd to write, because I really did like this book. I can’t put my finger on it. It is a good read, but perhaps not a great read, but definitely a series I will continue and am looking forward to seeing what happens next.
I loved this book! It’s spooky and suspenseful. This story has been compared to The Raven Cycle and Stranger Things, and I was definitely reminded of both of those series while reading it. In this story, there is a place in the woods called the Gray. It is like an alternate version of the forest where time feels different. The Gray holds a beast that kills people in the town, so the founding families use their special powers to defend the town. This reminded me of the Upside Down in Stranger Things, which is also like an alternate version of their town. This town felt like a real place because of all of the history it had. There were four founding families, each of which has their own special power, including seeing the future and bringing stone to life. There was so much history of the town that it seemed like a real place, though it would be a creepy town if it were real. The characters were also well developed. They had intense histories, including losing family members. The three main characters have to do rituals to get their powers, if they have them. If they don’t have powers, the town looks down on them. The narrative alternated between the perspectives of Justin, Violet, and Harper. They are each in a different position in terms of their relation to the town and the Gray, so they have very different perspectives of the town. I really enjoyed this story. The ending was open ended, so I’m curious to see what happens in the rest of the series. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Disney Book Group and Christine Lynn Herman for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advance copy. Are you ready for what’s in The Gray? It is haunting and horrifying. It sent shivers down my spine and made me pull up the covers a little tighter and I loved every second of it. I read this all in one shot - I couldn’t put it down and I enjoyed every second of it. The writing is gorgeous, evocative, descriptive. The contrast between the forest that surrounds the town, the green of the trees, the smell of the leaves, compared to the gray where there is an absence of sound, breath and colour. Don’t forget those bodies turned inside out and upside down. We never get a clear picture of the monster, but its personality is just outside of our grasp. So frightening for Violet who had no frame of reference for what was happening, thrown into the gray. I love that the outsider, Violet, is the moral compass. She can see so clearly what is wrong because of her fresh perspective. The others have been bogged down by history and responsibility. Their grooves already dug out for them. Such a clear picture emerges of the town of Four Paths, off the beaten path, a place where everyone knows its secrets, where strangers aren’t welcome. You can feel the smallness of the town, the expectations and judgement palpable. Imagine a high school where there aren’t enough seniors to make a class and kids who have been together their whole lives. Yet, Herman introduces the fluidity of their sexuality without it being a thing if you are bisexual, gay or straight. The four teens who have to right the wrongs of their parents, fix the mistakes of the past and forge their own way forward. Can they? Or will they, too, find themselves seduced by power. There is so much in this book, great relationships between characters, magical realism, and a good old fashioned scary story with things that go bump in the night. Bonus were the amazing illustrations at the beginning of each chapter.
After the death of her sister, Violet Saunders and her mother move back to Four Paths, her mom's hometown, in order to be with her aunt. She doesn't know anything about this small town in upper New York, and the locals aren't very welcoming to newcomers. However, it turns out that her mom might know much more about the town and its dark secrets than she lets on. Disney-Hyperion and NetGalley sent me a review copy of this, which I requested after reading the tag line: "Fans of The Raven Boys and Stranger Things rejoice. This is your new obsession." Which is actually the best description for this book. At first, I thought that this was going to be set in a different world (admittedly, didn't read the summary before I requested it), it's definitely more Stranger Things-esque. Small town plagued by a monster trapped in another world. One of the things I loved most about this book was the multiple narrators. We get points of view from Violet, Justin, and Harper, which helps in building this complex world that Herman created. And it's kind of creepy! We never really get a concrete description of the Beast itself, but what it can do adds an element of darkness throughout the entire novel.In addition to the creepiness of the Gray, Herman's book also looks at power and the different ways people wield it. Though the founders are using their powers to protect the town, their methods become questionable at times. But is it okay because they're doing it for a good cause? You know the mark of a good book when you're still thinking about it when you're finished. The only ding that I would give this book is that there is a lot of information given to you at the beginning, which can make the story a bit difficult to follow. But as you get more into the characters and each of their struggles, the world starts becoming clear. And there's bi rep in this book! Like, lots of bi rep. Which is really cool! I hope there's going to be a sequel because that ending left me wanting more.
The Devouring Gray is deliciously creepy. Well developed lovable characters, great writing style, and the world building is all on point! This is a definite 2 thumbs up for this debut author!
This book was a complete and utter delight. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Everything about this book hooked me in. At first, I wasn’t sure if this book would be for me because the beginning was just alright. However, once you get past the first 10-15% of the book, then you will absolutely be hooked. I don’t want to say much about the plot of this book because it’s much more fun to go in blind. All you need to know is that Four Paths is unlike any other town in the world. People die brutal, terrible deaths at the hands of a monster. The founding families are the only ones with the power to protect the town. But, this town and these families are all masters of manipulation and deceit. Until the return of the Saunders family--one of the four founding families. This return will upset the current balance and status quo in town--and it might also lead to more deaths or to salvation. First off, let’s start with our main characters: Violet, Harper, Justin, and Isaac. Each of these characters is a descendant from a founding family. Violet is the new girl in town who has no idea about the town’s monster or the significance of being a descendant of a founding family. Harper has lived the past 3 years as an outcast in her town because she failed her ritual. Justin is the golden boy everyone in town adores, but things aren’t always what they seem. Justin has a secret that could ruin not only his reputation but his family’s name. Last, but not least, Isaac is the last member of his family in Four Paths. The town sees him as a loose cannon and a liability because bad things happen when he loses his temper. Overall, I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and the interesting magic system in this book. Quite frankly, I need the sequel right NOW. That ending was killer. I can’t wait to see what journey these characters go on in the next installment! I recommend this book to people who love a creepy, gothic setting full of morally gray characters.
Set in a small town in upstate New York, The Devouring Gray follows a group of teenagers descended from the town’s founders who have to team up to prevent an ancient beast from breaking free. Everyone seems to love this book! I’ve heard nothing but great reviews! I don’t know what I’m missing! First of all, let’s talk about the characters. This is definitely a character focused book, which is exactly how I like my urban fantasies to be. Violet Saunders is the new girl in town who comes in without knowing anything about her family’s heritage. Justin and May Hawthorne, brother and sister, are basically the town’s golden kids. Isaac Sullivan is the broody loner and Justin’s best friend. Harper Carlisle is the pariah who feels invisible even in their tiny town. Each of these characters is interesting in their own way, though I never felt quite as connected to them as I wanted. Plus, I could tell that the author was setting up for some romance, and while I didn’t hate any of the couples, I also didn’t really care about any of them – oops. Basically, this book felt like it had a lot of potential which, at least for me, it didn’t reach. For example: the plot was interesting. There were twists that I didn’t see coming and clever bits of foreshadowing; there was a beginning, a middle, an end, and everything you need to make a solid plot. But I wasn’t getting much tension throughout. In a book, you expect there to be rises and falls of tension, right? I could see where those rises were supposed to be, but I wasn’t feeling them at all. I don’t know if it was my own failure to connect with the writing or something else entirely. Whatever it was, I rarely cared that much about what was going to happen next. Plus, we spent a bit too much time not knowing what was going on even when the characters did. I can understand withholding information from the audience for the sake of mystery, but it reached the point where I was confused because I hadn’t been given an important piece of the puzzle. All those complaints aside, I did think the author did an incredible job with evoking the atmosphere. The moments when I was the most invested were when we got vivid descriptions of the woods, making them feel alive and sinister. The spookiness factor was top notch and made me understand the comparisons to Stranger Things! For a debut novel, this isn’t bad – there are some interesting characters, a creepy setting, and some great setup for the next book in the series. I just don’t think I’ll be reading that! And since everyone else seems to be loving this book, maybe in the end it’s not you, it’s me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Anyway, this book is out now and if it sounds interesting to you at all, you should go check it out! *ARC PROVIDED BY NETGALLEY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. QUOTES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.*
There was quite a slow start for a bit more than the first half of the book. But the rest of the book was worth the wait. You will love the diverse cast of characters for a fantasy novel. It involves a creepy forest, town residents who disappear or are killed and a mysterious creature. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Devouring Gray is about a small town called Four Paths which is surrounded by woodlands. The founders of this town have been keeping secrets and their children aim to figure out what is really happening in those woods and stop the deaths that keep happening in their town. This book was not what I was expecting but in a good way. It is filled with a lot of secrets surrounding the founding family's and their abilities along with what is creeping in the woods. The plot for this book leaves you wanting more and honestly I am always up for a good founding family's story especially when there is supernatural abilities at work. When it came to the characters, a few of them were a little flat but it didn't keep me from taking a interest in them and they kept me engaged throughout each page. It was interesting, and sometimes surprising, to see how far certain characters would go when it came to the power struggle of the town and the drama surrounding the families. I am hoping there will be a second book because it left off on a cliffhanger and there are so many questions I have left unanswered when it comes to Isaac. The supernatural abilities are different for each person and even family members have a different one which I thought was cool. A few of those abilities were used but I think we will see more done with them in the second book (crossing my fingers). This book is filled with suspense, super-human abilities, and a gang of young teens trying to keep their town safe from an evil that dates back farther than their ancestors. If you are a fan of Stranger Things or like a bit of supernatural than this book is definitely for you. (I received a digital copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.)
I read to 45% before skipping to 80% and reading until the end. I had seen a lot of people talking about this book on social media, but it was the comparison of The Raven Boys and Stranger Things that had me wanting to read it. For me, this book wasn’t even close to either of those. The four main characters are okay. They all have struggles with what’s going on, but in different ways. A lot of the writing was tell and not show, and maybe that’s why I couldn’t connect to any of them. No one stood out to me. Plot wise, it was sort of the same. It was all so bland. Sure, there were a few interesting things, yet nothing kept me wanting to see how the story unfolds. Overall, it was an interesting idea, but lacked something that would have captivated me. **Huge thanks to Disney Hyperion for providing the arc free of charge**
When I saw the cover of this novel, I wanted to read it without even seeing the description. Comp titles like The Raven Cycle and Stranger Things are the equivalent of leaving a trail of chocolate to lure me in. What a dark, atmospheric story this is, with spine-tingling moments, complex, flawed, fully-realized characters, and layered secrets intermingled with lies. Small towns always hold the most secrets and lies. Occasionally when I read, I'm skimming the pages and getting the gist of the story. With this book, I was completely absorbed from page one, and read every single captivating word. These characters - oof. Complicated relationships, a diverse cast, and a few different POVs. All of them are compelling, but with a tragic, mysterious past, Isaac is the character that most intrigued me, and it looks like more about his past will be revealed in the next book. The Devouring Gray is an enticing blend of YA fantasy and horror. It's not a fast-paced story, but more of a slow burn - and what a tantalizing burn it is, with all those secrets and lies slowly coming to light. The second book in this duology will be on my wishlist for next year. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.