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Strange Grace

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Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? Find out in this lush, atmospheric fantasy novel that entwines love, lies, and sacrifice. Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of th Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? Find out in this lush, atmospheric fantasy novel that entwines love, lies, and sacrifice. Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil’s Forest. Only this year, the Slaughter Moon has risen early. Bound by duty, secrets, and the love they share for one another, Mairwen, a spirited witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a restless outcast, will each have a role to play as the devil demands a body to fill the bargain. But the devil these friends find is not the one they expect, and the lies they uncover will turn their town—and their hearts—inside out.


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Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? Find out in this lush, atmospheric fantasy novel that entwines love, lies, and sacrifice. Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of th Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? Find out in this lush, atmospheric fantasy novel that entwines love, lies, and sacrifice. Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil’s Forest. Only this year, the Slaughter Moon has risen early. Bound by duty, secrets, and the love they share for one another, Mairwen, a spirited witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a restless outcast, will each have a role to play as the devil demands a body to fill the bargain. But the devil these friends find is not the one they expect, and the lies they uncover will turn their town—and their hearts—inside out.

30 review for Strange Grace

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. “I fell in love with the forest. And the forest loved me back. And so we traded hearts. Mine is here, larger and stronger than it could have been in the small cavern of my body” I’ve read over one-hundred books so far in 2018, and Strange Grace is easily my absolute favorite. And I anticipate that it will be my favorite book of 2018 come December 31st, too. What a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Literally per ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. “I fell in love with the forest. And the forest loved me back. And so we traded hearts. Mine is here, larger and stronger than it could have been in the small cavern of my body” I’ve read over one-hundred books so far in 2018, and Strange Grace is easily my absolute favorite. And I anticipate that it will be my favorite book of 2018 come December 31st, too. What a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Literally perfection. A true gift to the literary world. Friends, if you’re looking for a spooky book, with a dark fairy-tale vibe, that heavily talks about society's gender expectations, while being a love letter to gender fluidity, with the most heartwarming polyamorous relationship, look no further than this masterpiece. “The old god and the youngest Grace witch. The story says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all?” In Three Graces, no harm comes to anyone. Babies are born safe, and parents deliver in less pain. Crops are perfect and produce an abundance. Animals never get sick. People heal from cuts overnight and broken bones in a few days. This village is magical, and the community is able to thrive without fear, except for one thing. That one thing? Oh, the devil in the forest that surrounds the village. Long ago, there were three witches. And the youngest one fell in love with the devil in the village and chose to give him her heart. And together, they made a deal. Every seventh year, when the slaughter moon comes, and the red from the Bone Tree releases, the best boy from the village will run into the forest, willing to sacrifice his life to protect his village for another seven years. Except this year, the forest is requesting another boy, even though the village should be safe for another three years. The village has to come together and decide what to do. Should they sacrifice their newest best boy, in hopes that the devil that dwells in the forest will accept the offering? “He was bold and powerful, beautiful and dangerous, but he loved the first Grace witch, and it was from that love the bargain blossomed. This valley is made on love, little bird. Find love. Seek it, always. That is where our power resides.” We get to follow three characters, who all are tied to the sacrifices by just being born. We get to watch them deal with the safety of their village being removed, and we get to see how each reacts. And they are willing to rise up, they are ready to fight, but they are also so very willing to sacrifice. ➽ Mairwen - White, half witch (from her mother), half saint (from her father that was sacrificed while her mother was pregnant), but wholly called to the forest. The youngest witch, and maybe the most powerful. And shares her heart with two people, and one best friend, that make up her entire universe. “She is a piece of the wild forest: tangled vines of hair; beautiful dress torn and heavy at the hem with mud and water; insistent, dangerous eyes; lips parted; cheeks flushed. An ax loose in one hand like she’s the vengeful spirit in a terrible story.” ➽ Arthur - White, was raised as a girl, because his mother couldn’t bear the thought of him being sacrificed, but the secret came out. And Arthur has felt trapped between the two worlds ever since, while wishing people could understand that there is more than just two genders. Yet, Arthur feels the need to prove themself as the best boy in the village, not just for the rest of the men to see, but to save the true best boy. “Nobody can change who he is except for himself, not any saint ritual, not an ignorant, terrified town, not a night spent in the forest, not a dress or a kiss” ➽ Rhun - Black, and the boy that completes this beautiful triad. Good, pure, kind, caring, and truly, above all else, the best boy in the village. But his goodness made it so that he was always literally raised for the slaughter. “If love can protect anybody, it will protect Rhun Sayer.” And these three have completely captured my soul and I’ve never shipped or loved a fictional relationship more. This story is a masterpiece, the discussions are life changing, and the writing feels like it comes from some sort of higher-power and/or magical deity. I promise you all, this story is now embedded in my very DNA. If you could only pick up one book that I recommend in 2018, please have it be Strange Grace. Gender roles and the constructs that every society places on them is a constant theme in this book. Arthur’s character is so wonderful, and even though it was painful at times, was such a breath of fresh air to read about. We get to see Arthur feel ostracized from “girl things” but also never being able to fit in with the “boy things”, and we get to see Arthur realize how toxic that way of thinking truly is. “What hurt him was the rule change. Being forced out of girlhood into boyhood, as if it were only an either/ or, as if to make any other choice was unnatural.” And in general, the sexual representation is amazing. Like, everyone in this book is queer. Mairwen states attraction to different/no genders, obviously Rhun and Arthur are attracted to different/no genders, Arthur is (in my opinion) non-binary, Mairwen’s mom has a woman partner; this book has a whole lot of gay. And you all know how much the polyamorous rep meant to me, and how much I was living for it, while turning every page of this book. And I’m just going to pretend like they are all pansexual and go to sleep with a smile on my face each night. Thanks. “It’s fear. Not of the devil, but fear of change. Fear of doing anything different that might cause a ripple and bring it all down. Fear of a little boy in a dress, because he didn’t fit into the structure of town, the rules. There was never anything wrong with Arthur.” And this entire book is a love letter to found families everywhere. Mairwen, Rhun, and Arthur have created something so beautiful and their friendship is honestly goals. Unconditional love is always at the forefront of their relationship and of this story. And this entire book feels like a bright light that celebrates that the family you create and choose will always be superior than the once you are born into without any saying. Also, I haven’t talked about her yet, but Haf, Mairwen’s other best friend, is the sweetest soul in the book. I loved her. I’m happy the town believe in their misogynistic hearts that they had to sacrifice only their best boys, instead of their best human, because Haf is truly the best character in Three Graces. Like, I would totally sacrifice myself for her, Mairween, Rhun, and Arthur. Like, I’m walking into the forest now, because I love them all so much. Bye. “I love you,” [...] “Both of you, and all of you. Hold on to my heart and I’ll be fine.” And I honestly feel like, somehow, this forest crept into my home and crept into me. This was so spooky and so atmospheric, but I couldn’t put it down. No matter how scary or how dark it got; I was so completely addicted. Some of these passages left me feeling like I was on my own alter, deep in the forest, chest open, ribs cracked, leaving my heart bared for all to see. Yeah, that good. I don’t have words. I truly believe that sometimes you just completely connect with an author’s writing and it will wholeheartedly teleport you into that story. I read the anthology Three Sides of a Heart , and I fell so completely hard for Tessa Gratton’s writing. I always pick a favorite short story in anthologies, but normally it’s a hard choice, yet Tessa made that anthology’s pick so easy. And then I fell in love with another short story by her in All Out, and I knew I had to read a full-length book from this author. And friends, it was like picking a book up for the first and time and realize that power that books can hold. Tessa’s writing is on another tier all by itself, and I am still, days later, left in awe of it. If you like lyrical writing, with captivating stories that are completely transportive, you need to give Strange Grace a read. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. But this being said, I went into Strange Grace only expecting good writing and nothing more. But I can’t believe I found probably the best book of 2018. And this might be the best written book I’ve ever read in my entire life. I honestly had goosebumps while read at least 75% of this book. And even though this is a dark and spooky read, those goosebumps where completely from Tessa Gratton’s writing completely piercing my soul. “You can break it all, or remake it.” Overall, I recommend this with my heart and soul. Not only is this probably going to be my favorite book of 2018, it also has the best polyamorous relationship I’ve read ever. I’m not sure my heart has ever beat so fast, broken so painfully, or warmed so much, for any fictional relationship. The woods, the writing, the spell this book placed on me, it’s like nothing I’ve ever experience. Please, friend, pick this book up. Not only is it going to make the perfect autumnal read, it just feels like the book of my heart. Thank you so much, Tessa, for this once in a lifetime book that I’ll cherish forever. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. Content and trigger warnings for animal death, bullying, trauma, grief, murder, torture, human sacrifice, abandonment, and just in general, this is a spooky book that I would for sure classify as horror. Please use caution, friends. Buddy read with Candance at Literary Dust, Lilly at Lair of Books, & Julie at Pages and Pens! ❤ My amazing friend, Taylor, got me this book signed for my birthday, and then Tessa posted on Twitter a picture of her actually signing it, and I'm a soft and weak fangirl mess:

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    “This valley is made on love, little bird. Find love. Seek it, always. That is where our power resides.” In the town of Three Graces, no one is ever injured or killed. To achieve this, the town must sacrifice a boy every seven years — but this year, the sacrifice comes early. Following an angry boy, a saint, and a witch, this book is a weird and magical journey. →the good stuff← I memed in this First of all, god, you guys, the body horror. The tone that feels like a blend of 1300s witchcraft a “This valley is made on love, little bird. Find love. Seek it, always. That is where our power resides.” In the town of Three Graces, no one is ever injured or killed. To achieve this, the town must sacrifice a boy every seven years — but this year, the sacrifice comes early. Following an angry boy, a saint, and a witch, this book is a weird and magical journey. →the good stuff← I memed in this First of all, god, you guys, the body horror. The tone that feels like a blend of 1300s witchcraft and modern-day horror movies. I absolutely adored how the creepiness of this situation was played up. I also adored the writing. I feel like this would be great for fans of The Raven Cycle, with its weird magical tone. Perhaps more importantly, the three leads are great. ✔Arthur – constantly in gender questioning hell. retweets memes about mean costumers. is the mean costumer. ✔Rhun – the nicest person in the whole fucking world and I love him. said something bitter once and Mair and Arthur both keep the receipts in their phone. not all men? you’re right. Rhun Sayer would never do this ✔Mairwen – a witch. probably runs one of those your-fave-is-a-witch blogs. hates her emotions but hates terrible men more. proud thirsty bitch The story focuses, in a big part, on the poly relationship between the three of them, and I really really liked that [although I did want more; I talked about this down below]. Also, an iconic queer trio; Rhun is black and bi/pan, Arthur is also bi/pan and probably nonbinary, Mair is also implied to be bi/pan. →the bad stuff← oh boy. The worldbuilding around homophobia was a bit confusing? So, this world comes off as non-homophobic… most of the time. There are several explicitly bi/pan side and main characters, including Arthur, Rhun, and Mairwen’s mother; both Mairwen and Haf read as sapphic; the narrative seemingly treats it as a very normalized thing. But this society also has incredibly strict gender roles and a lot of transphobia, and moreover, the characters react as if this world is at the very least transphobic. (view spoiler)[[There’s a very well-written scene near the beginning in which Rhun attempts to kiss Arthur, and Arthur pushes him away because he’s “not a girl” and seems confused that Rhun wants to kiss him anyway.] (hide spoiler)] As none of the characters seem to explicitly align themselves with queer identity in any way, and the world seemingly treats it as normal most of the time, it feels… idk, as if the author didn’t want a homophobic world, but didn’t know how to write a non-homophobic world? Which then reads like simple lack of acknowledgement. A major plot point of this story is that Arthur, who is AMAB, was forced to dress as a girl as a kid, and then it was realized that “he was a boy” via him stripping when he was about eight. He reads as being nonbinary, at least to me, but as this isn’t explicit text, it could very easily read as a book about a cis boy suffering from transphobia. I felt this was well handled for what it was, but… I don’t know. SPOILER ALERT: I really wish I had known going in that the only major sapphic relationship ends in death. The bury your gays trope, a trope I have discussed at length on my blog, is very prominent in both current literature and current television. And killing off one member of a happy relationship between women is the #1 iteration in current tv. So despite the fact that there’s a lot of queer rep in this story, this didn’t sit right with me at all. The main problem I had is the structure. Moreover, the first act of the story is really, really long, extending 40% into the book, and is framed like a buildup to a climax - but then we see nothing of the climax. There’s just a time-jump, and suddenly we’re past the forest. It’s an odd instance of a buildup with no release and it was frustrating. The plot, in general, goes a little all over the place? There are a couple instances of side characters having one pov chapter that doesn’t say very much, and then never having a pov chapter again. Several side plot threads seem like they go nowhere, or maybe they're not meant to be plot threads? Several very unnecessary and/or underutilized side characters. Oh, another thing is that all of the interesting stuff in this story is told in subtext, which means none of the characters really ever come to terms with their own problems or more importantly, the reality of their three-person relationship. There are literally multiple moments that go like this: ✔Rhun: I kissed Arthur ✔Mair: silence ft. barely any fucking internal monologue Like, I’m sorry, but where. are. these. characters. mentally. You can’t just tell me they’re all in love and have that be the end, I have to know how their actual dynamic works!! Three people being in love does not an actually healthy relationship make. And the moment where they discuss this, the release of tension, again, does not ever come. I will also fully admit to having the most emotions about Rhun and Arthur’s relationship. I really liked the dynamic between Rhun and Mairwen; however, they’re an established relationship, and I never really got a sense of tension between them? And I’m just going to be honest, the relationship between Mairwen and Arthur was half-assed. They talked, like, once. And as the relationship between the three characters really has no ending, I really struggled with the seemingly lacking connection between the plot and the characters. the most interesting elements of this novel feel pushed to the side by a plot I really struggled to care about. It’s a decent plot for a novel, don’t get me wrong, but when the main arc of the novel — the three of them forming a relationship — does not tie into the main plot at all, the book feels incoherent. So… overall, I guess you could say I had mixed feelings. Considering I just shouted for three pages on this google doc. ➽ further reading: Marija's relatable three-star review Melanie's fantastic five-star review ✨Arc received from the publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review. [ releases: Sep 18th 2018.] Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hamad

    This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription Actual Rating: 2.5 stars “The old god and the youngest Grace witch. The story says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all?” 🌟 I didn’t like and didn’t hate this book but I think it could have been better for sure. I read this because I like the synopsis very much! I thought that I have read something similar before -And it obviously isn’t new but still good- and I found out that it has the same synops This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription Actual Rating: 2.5 stars “The old god and the youngest Grace witch. The story says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all?” 🌟 I didn’t like and didn’t hate this book but I think it could have been better for sure. I read this because I like the synopsis very much! I thought that I have read something similar before -And it obviously isn’t new but still good- and I found out that it has the same synopsis for Uprooted. 🌟 This book started really good and I thought that I finally found a good book but it became boring shortly after that and for the majority of the story. I liked how it improved toward the ending but for most of the story I didn’t feel the relish of it. 🌟 The world building was good initially and I liked how different people reacted toward the sacrifice thing but I think many things are left in the shadows without much explanation as the witches and magic outside the forest. 🌟 I think it was going well until they go into the forest and go out, I saw many reviews mentioning that it was even boring before that. That was the cut point where every thing changed for me, the writing became all over the place, I was confused and I feel it could have been better if it was told in a linear fashion rather than the jumping that it did. 🌟 A positive thing that I should mention is the diversity of characters in this book, this was an LGBTQ grail and it deals with the subject in a good way. 🌟 I can’t deny that the writing was good at some points but I lost interest one way or another. 🌟 Summary: Strange Grace is a diverse story with a very intriguing synopsis. The writing was good but the execution was not. This is a further reason to read Uprooted now. 🌟 Prescription: Read the synopsis and see if you like it, and if you don’t mind slow pacing and like diverse characters the this book for you. If not, then Uprooted may be an alternative.

  4. 5 out of 5

    destiny ♎ [howling libraries]

    I have a lot of feelings about this book. Strange Grace has been one of my most anticipated 2018 releases all year—I love these dark, witchy fantasy stories, and as soon as I saw Tessa mention it on her twitter back at the start of the year, I wanted to pre-order it right then and there. All the build-up leading to finally reading this twisted little story is precisely why this review is so difficult for me to write. They made this bargain with the devil: Every seven years their best boy is sent I have a lot of feelings about this book. Strange Grace has been one of my most anticipated 2018 releases all year—I love these dark, witchy fantasy stories, and as soon as I saw Tessa mention it on her twitter back at the start of the year, I wanted to pre-order it right then and there. All the build-up leading to finally reading this twisted little story is precisely why this review is so difficult for me to write. They made this bargain with the devil: Every seven years their best boy is sent into the forest from sundown to sunrise, on the night of the Slaughter Moon. He will live or die on his own mettle, and for his sacrifice the devil blesses Three Graces. First, let’s talk about some pros. This book makes for a fantastic fall read, especially if you’re looking for something involving witchcraft, dark magic, and those oldschool occult vibes with lots of nature spellwork, charms, bone magic, blood working, etc. The entire mood of this book felt to me like it could have been filmed on the set of the film The VVitch, is what I’m getting at here—and that’s a good thing. I adored the aesthetic, and loved most of the actual representation of the Grace witches’ magic—especially the fact that each witch performed different types of crafts, such as Mairwen’s bone and blood magic, while her mother preferred healing crafts and charms. Later, when the sun fills the valley, a shadow stirs. It is a slinking thing, powerful and hungry. It lifts fingers of bone and root from the forest floor, cradling the tiny doll. There’s also a creeping dread and terror to the entire forest that is executed phenomenally. We start with this explanation of why everyone is terrified of the woods even during the 7 years in between the Slaughter Moon rituals, and the way the woods call to Mairwen and the Grace witches before her makes it feel as though the forest is this thinking, sentient creature all on its own. I was immediately intrigued by the setting and was ecstatic when we finally got to explore it a bit further, learning about the creatures within and the secrets the woods have been hiding. She wishes to step inside. Longs to explore, to discover the forest’s secrets. But her mother has said, again and again, Grace witches do not return from the forest. We all hear the call, eventually, and walk inside forever. My mother did, and hers before that. You were born with the call, baby bird, because of your daddy, and must resist. On the negative side of things, however, the magic doesn’t feel explored enough—there are bits thrown in that rely on the reader having pre-existing knowledge, and I think a lot of readers will wonder why certain things are being done (like the blood magic, weaving bones into clothing, etc.). As it stands, it sometimes felt like it was being thrown in just for “witchy vibes” appeal (but take me with a grain of salt here, as I may just be taking things a bit too personally). He misses her with a simple ache that wakes him up at night. He doesn’t know if he’s in love with her or if he wants to set her on fire. The characters were also a source of internal conflict from start to finish: I loved them so much and wanted to protect them and see them all happy and safe, but there’s honestly not a ton of fleshing out from any of them. While we’re given basic motives and beliefs for each of our three main players, I felt like their emotions—especially regarding the romance—were shown from a distant, far-off perspective. The only character I ever felt like I was being given a genuine chance to connect with was Arthur, with his gender fluidity, struggles to thrive, and implied nonbinary identity. I loved getting inside of his head, even when he broke my heart with his own internalized homophobia and transphobia. Rhun and Mairwen, on the other hand, while both lovable, never felt real. Underneath his spikes, Arthur wants nothing more than to be loved by these two people. While it may sound like I was disappointed by quite a bit (and trust me, I was), the reason I didn’t hesitate to round my 3.5 up to a 4 is because of the absolutely precious polyamorous relationship that forms. There’s other queer rep in the story (such as a side f/f couple and implied bi/pansexuality from a few characters), but the spotlight shines on the relationship between Mairwen (implied bi/pan), Arthur (bi/pan, trans spectrum/implied enby), and Rhun (we know he’s queer, but I strongly feel that he is biromantic and homosexual). Each of these teens loves the other two so much they can hardly stand themselves, and given that polyamorous representation is so rare in books—especially in YA!—I was utterly delighted to watch them come to terms with the idea that they had enough love in their hearts for a trio instead of a duo. Her heart has always belonged to the forest. So, if you’ve stuck it out this far, you’re a winner in my book, because I think this is one of the messiest reviews I’ve ever written. I simply don’t know how to eloquently describe my feelings for this book, which simultaneously made me so happy and yet left me so let down. There is so much good at play here, but in so many ways, it could have been more. There’s so much time spent describing repetitive things (which doesn’t help with the poor pacing in the middle of the book) that could have benefited tremendously from being spent on character development or world-building. My final point is this: this is quite likely one of the lowest 4-star ratings I have ever given, but it is still a 4-star read at the end of the day. I absolutely feel confident in recommending this title to people who enjoy dark fantasy, books including witchcraft, the occult, deals with devils, and anyone who wants to finally see some on-page polyamorous representation in their YA reads. Content warnings for animal death, transphobia, homophobia, forced gender roles, child death, verbal abuse. All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Margaret K. McElderry for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review! --- Buddy read with Kaleena!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    While I did like a lot of things about this, I just could not for the life of me wrap my poor, contemporary loving brain around all of the fantastical elements in this enough to really enjoy it. Womp :( (Side-note: I definitely think that if you at all enjoy fantasy even just a little bit more than I do, you will LOVE this. It was just way more heavy on the fantasy than I was expecting and I couldn’t immerse myself as much as I was hoping I would)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Candace Robinson

    This was a very interesting story and strange would be a great word to use, because strange things are awesome! My favorite kinds of stories involve forests, ones where there are things hidden within. I thought the author did a good job with the love between the three characters. It was a beautiful thing! Arthur was definitely my favorite, and my goodness did I feel for him. He was angry at times, and he had a right to be! He had a right to be confused, and I wanted to give him a great big hug. My This was a very interesting story and strange would be a great word to use, because strange things are awesome! My favorite kinds of stories involve forests, ones where there are things hidden within. I thought the author did a good job with the love between the three characters. It was a beautiful thing! Arthur was definitely my favorite, and my goodness did I feel for him. He was angry at times, and he had a right to be! He had a right to be confused, and I wanted to give him a great big hug. My favorite scenes were some within the forest, awesome world building with perfect description. It makes me want to venture there, but kind of not at the same time! Overall, a unique book that is sure to be a hit!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    "The old god and the youngest Grace witch. The story says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all?" This is such a ME book. If you took all the things I love and threw them in a blender, this book would be the product. 🍁 fantasy 🍁 spooky 🍁 dark fairy tale 🍁 witches 🍁 so queer 🍁 gender norms? who is she? This will be the perfect fall read. If you are looking for something spooky and atmospheric, this is it. If you are looking for something witchy, this is it. If you are looking f "The old god and the youngest Grace witch. The story says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all?" This is such a ME book. If you took all the things I love and threw them in a blender, this book would be the product. 🍁 fantasy 🍁 spooky 🍁 dark fairy tale 🍁 witches 🍁 so queer 🍁 gender norms? who is she? This will be the perfect fall read. If you are looking for something spooky and atmospheric, this is it. If you are looking for something witchy, this is it. If you are looking for something super dark, this is it. This reminded me so much of one of my fave horror movies, The Witch. It has the same eerie quiet vibe that I love. Every 7 years, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the citizens of Three Graces must send their chosen saint into the forest to be sacrificed to the devil who lives within. The whole idea of this town sacrificing their best boy in order to have 7 years of good luck was so twisted and fascinating. "They made this bargain with the devil: Every seven years their best boy is sent into the forest from sundown to sunrise, on the night of the Slaughter Moon. He will live or die on his own mettle, and for his sacrifice the devil blesses Three Graces." We follow 3 main characters, all of whom I love with my whole heart. ↳Mariwen: daughter of the current Grace Witch and a previous saint who was sacrificed to the forest "A Grace witch began this bargain with her heart, her mother says, and your heart could end it." ↳Arthur: raised as a girl because his mother wanted to save him from ever being sacrificed. now determined to prove himself as the best boy "He promised himself, ten years ago, to someday run into the forest and offer the devil his heart, but Arthur understands now that the devil ate his heart a long time ago" ↳Rhun: current best boy. known his whole life that his destiny lies within the forest The three of them have such a powerful polyamorous relationship. They are so wholly connected that one cannot exist without the other two. The fourth main character is the forest itself. The setting really came to life and felt like a living breathing character within the story. And I felt a calling to the devils forest just as these characters did. "She wishes to step inside. Longs to explore, to discover the forest’s secrets. But her mother has said, again and again, Grace witches do not return from the forest. We all hear the call, eventually, and walk inside forever. My mother did, and hers before that. You were born with the call, baby bird, because of your daddy, and must resist.” The writing in this was what stole my heart. I highlighted so many lines because everything was just so beautiful. I am so happy to have found a new author that I adore and I can’t wait to read more of Tessa’s works.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Madalyn (Novel Ink)

    Excuse me... how dare this book be so perfect??? If you’re looking for an atmospheric, spooky read this October, THIS IS IT, PEOPLE. Also, polyamory. I love everything about this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julie Zantopoulos

    In a town free of illness or bad fortune, a deal has been struck with the devil. Their easy living comes at a price, a saint who enters the woods every seven years, seldom to return. What happens in those woods is a mystery. We follow a trio of amazing characters united in their love for one another, Mairwen, a Grace witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a moody outcast who will each have a role to play as the devil demands a heart be sacrificed to the forest to fill the bargain. This boo In a town free of illness or bad fortune, a deal has been struck with the devil. Their easy living comes at a price, a saint who enters the woods every seven years, seldom to return. What happens in those woods is a mystery. We follow a trio of amazing characters united in their love for one another, Mairwen, a Grace witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a moody outcast who will each have a role to play as the devil demands a heart be sacrificed to the forest to fill the bargain. This book is EVERYTHING I wanted Uprooted and Sawkill Girls to be! This is the scary forest and the devil in the woods that everyone should fear. This book captures the spooky remote town and mob mentality vibe so well and those two things terrify me. The setting is rich, the writing is stunning, and the characters are phenomenal. I adore some of the side characters, too (Haf for life). "He chose the worst parts of boys, thinking they were the strongest when they were only the least girl." This town sacrifices strong boys and there's a discussion about toxic masculinity that I was living for! Arthur has some trauma in his childhood that has him acting overly rough and Mair calls him in it in beautiful quote worthy moments. There are strong women, brave women who feel called to action and don't back down and I adore that, also. Mair is brave and bold and she doesn't shy away from sexuality, power, or magic. She's freaking amazing! "If love can protect Rhun, if that's all she can do, she must not divide her heart!" Not only does Tessa deliver on the spooky setting but she also offers up an amazing relationship between Mair, Rhun, and Arthur that made me feel all the feels. We got a YA polyamorous relationship that is legit goals. Ruhn and Arthur are precious and Mair is so freaking strong and amazing with both of the boys. I legit couldn't love them more. My one complaint with this book is that there were predictable parts of the story, especially at the climax where I wished that Tessa would do something a bit more unexpected. Did she write the scenes and ending well, absolutely, but it didn't feel incredibly original. That said, this book is still stunning and I'll be grabbing myself a finished copy for sure and I 11/10 would recommend for a witchy/spooky or just highly atmospheric and diverse read. Trigger warnings for death, murder, graphic imagery of wounds/cuts, harm to animals (? kinda lol). It's a dark book, guys. Go in knowing it's about a devil and a creepy wood with a lot of psychological mind f**ks. It's hard to pinpoint exact triggers but just know that it's dark.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Britt

    Have you ever realized you were sitting reading with one hand covering your mouth? That’s how large parts of this book were for me. Strange Grace was such a beautiful, eerie, twisted, and compelling story. The haunting atmosphere of the Devil’s Forest with its whispering creatures, shadows over your shoulder, and echoing laughter of the devil will chill your bones while you read – while somehow still coming off as an inspiring story about love and sacrifice. A witch makes a deal with the devil to Have you ever realized you were sitting reading with one hand covering your mouth? That’s how large parts of this book were for me. Strange Grace was such a beautiful, eerie, twisted, and compelling story. The haunting atmosphere of the Devil’s Forest with its whispering creatures, shadows over your shoulder, and echoing laughter of the devil will chill your bones while you read – while somehow still coming off as an inspiring story about love and sacrifice. A witch makes a deal with the devil to ensure prosperity for their village (no illnesses, healthy crops, no untimely deaths) by agreeing that every 7 years, during the Slaughter Moon, the best boy in the village will be sacrificed into the Devil’s Forest. When things start to change in their village and the bargain appears to be falling apart, 3 friends change what is expected of their roles to try to not only save their village, but each other. Mairwen is the daughter of the current Grace witch. She is fierce, smart, proud, and loves with her whole heart. She is such a wonderful character to follow. Rhun is just one of the best people you will ever meet. He is the suspected next saint and has always accepted this. And Arthur is fierce and burns so brightly. I loved his character and seeing his side of the way he has grown up. Every aspect of the relationship between the three of them is so beautiful and well done. It drives so much of this story. A love triangle –sort of, but in the most beautiful, equal, loving, and healthy way. This book is exactly what I think of when I think “dark fantasy”. There were so many deliciously creepy visuals and the way Tessa Gratton set such a chilling atmosphere was eerie and captivating. It was beautifully written and is a book that will leave you thinking about it long after it’s over. There is also lovely LGBT representation and powerful self-discovery. And September could not be a more perfect release date for it. I will definitely be pre-ordering this one and waiting among the crisp fallen leaves with a cup of cider. *Thank you very much to Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss* for a new 2018 favorite!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Roshani Chokshi

    This book was so atmospherically wonderful. It felt like The Witch by way of Juliette Marillier. Don't miss this when it releases in September!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stacee

    DNF at 60% HOW I WANTED TO LOVE THIS BOOK. I love the cover and the synopsis is magical and I couldn’t wait to get to it. Sadly, it was so boring. I really liked the three main characters: Mair, Arthur, and Rhun. They’re all in love with each other and the dynamic of their relationship would have been enough for me if it would have been crafted in a different way. The three of them barely have interactions and I wanted to see why they were drawn to each other. Instead it seemed like I was just su DNF at 60% HOW I WANTED TO LOVE THIS BOOK. I love the cover and the synopsis is magical and I couldn’t wait to get to it. Sadly, it was so boring. I really liked the three main characters: Mair, Arthur, and Rhun. They’re all in love with each other and the dynamic of their relationship would have been enough for me if it would have been crafted in a different way. The three of them barely have interactions and I wanted to see why they were drawn to each other. Instead it seemed like I was just supposed to know. There are a lot of other characters — well, just a lot of names, really — but we don’t get to know much about any of them. Plot wise it was slow slow slow. The world building was non-existent, if there was magic, I didn’t see it, and everything moved so slow. The exciting part of the forest is literally a time jump and the constant flashbacks were not satisfying at all. OH AND HAVE I MENTIONED IT WAS SLOW? Overall, it was an amazing concept with a wonderful ending {because you know I read the last chapter}, I just couldn’t get into the execution. **Huge thanks to Margaret K. McElderry Books for providing the arc free of charge**

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ashlee » Library In The Country

    View review on my blog, Library in the Country Review copy generously provided by the publisher via Edelweiss. Strange Grace was such a beautiful tale about love and sacrifice, with a wonderfully eerie and unsettling twist to it. This is the PERFECT Fall read and perfect if you're looking for something to sweep you up and cradle your heart. Many generations before Mairwen, Rhun and Arthur were born, their village of Three Graces made a bargain with the devil. Every seven years, the village will wil View review on my blog, Library in the Country Review copy generously provided by the publisher via Edelweiss. Strange Grace was such a beautiful tale about love and sacrifice, with a wonderfully eerie and unsettling twist to it. This is the PERFECT Fall read and perfect if you're looking for something to sweep you up and cradle your heart. Many generations before Mairwen, Rhun and Arthur were born, their village of Three Graces made a bargain with the devil. Every seven years, the village will willingly sacrifice their best boy into the Devil's Forest. Only the sacrificed saints go into the forest, for it is full of otherworldly creatures, whispers that promise wicked and delightful things and if you look close enough you may see the shadow of the devil himself. It's been three years since the last boy went in, ten years since Rhun's cousin went in, seventeen years since Mairwen's father went in and almost two hundred years since the devil fell in love with a Grace witch. Nothing bad befalls Three Graces, except now. Something is wrong with the bargain and the Slaughter Moon has risen early. Bound by their love for each other, Mairwen, Rhun and Arthur set out to seek a way to fix the bargain, save their village and each other from the clutches of the devil. This book is certainly a dark fantasy, but it had so many inspiring moments - it constantly had me smiling and screaming "YASSSS!" for the triumphs of my favorite characters. Mairwen is smart, fierce as a wildcat and loves with no bounds. Rhun is a damn blessing, the perfect saint and you will adore everything he does. Arthur doesn't fit the mold he has made for himself, he burns brightly despite his longing to stand in the dark and all I wanted to do was force him into a hug (that he would certainly grimace over). This is absolutely a character driven story and you never know what these three characters will do next, but you'll support them every time. Also, love triangle? No, not exactly. There is a triangle but it isn't what you may expect and I LOVED it. There was really only one relationship to "ship" and let me tell you, it WORKED. I was so lost in the chilling atmosphere of this story, the depth of the characters, the mystery surrounding the bargain, and especially the devil himself. There are SO many amazing twists in this book, it will keep you turning the pages well past your bedtime. This book also has some lovely LGBT+ rep, including trans rep that never even made me think of it that way. It just fit the story so perfectly. Overall, after reading Strange Grace, I want to own and read everything Tessa Gratton has written. She has been on my radar for a few months now and this book was EVERYTHING I needed to decide I need to read more by her! Put this on your Fall reading list! This is definitely one of those ARCs I immediately wanted to pre-order as soon as I finished it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aimee ♥ | Aimee, Always

    one of the weirdest yet most fascinating books i’ve read in a while!!! 😮 insanely unique fantasy aspects 😍 three very different but all very interesting main characters 💕 verrrry odd romances 👀 that twist tho!?!? 🌹 that girl power from the heroine? yaaaaas

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kaleena ★ Reader Voracious

    This is such a weird and beautiful book. Friends, I am struggling to find the words to articulate how much I adored this book. While the premise of a hundreds-year old pacts that provide prosperity to a town in return for sacrifice isn't new, I found Strange Grace to be refreshing and captivatingly written and is one of the best witch stories I've ever read. Three Graces is an idyllic town: there is no disease, the weather is perfect, injuries heal overnight, and crops grow in abundance. Provide This is such a weird and beautiful book. Friends, I am struggling to find the words to articulate how much I adored this book. While the premise of a hundreds-year old pacts that provide prosperity to a town in return for sacrifice isn't new, I found Strange Grace to be refreshing and captivatingly written and is one of the best witch stories I've ever read. Three Graces is an idyllic town: there is no disease, the weather is perfect, injuries heal overnight, and crops grow in abundance. Provided that the bargain is upheld every seven years on the Slaughter Moon, everyone is safe. Everyone except for the town's best boy, who volunteers for the honor of being named the next saint and ensuring that the bargain continues. Everything has gone smoothly for two hundred years, but something is wrong with the bargain and the Slaughter Moon has come four years early. He will live or die on his own mettle, and for his sacrifice the devil blesses Three Graces. The book is told in the alternating perspectives of our three main characters, each of whom are tied inextricably to the bargain as well as each other. Their love for one another, as well as their town, is absolutely endearing. Mairwen Grace is the daughter of a Grace witch and a saint Arthur Couch was raised as a girl, Lyn, because his mother didn't want him to be named saint and run for the bargain: "to have a son in Three Graces was to live in terrible fear" . Unfortunately his secret was discovered, and has made himself hard to prove his "manliness" to the town, wanting to be named the saint but no one really taking him seriously. Rhun Sayer comes from a line of two saints and has almost been raised with the expectation of his fate, to the point that he assumed that he has no future after his run. He is good, pure, and kind -- just the characteristics that would make him the best boy and saint. This ways that the book tackles the society's expectations of gender is nuanced, from Arthur's genderfluid identity to the gender reversal of the "sacrificial lamb." Three Graces is not without its gender roles, and it was heartbreaking to watch Arthur struggle to fit into either of the worlds but falling in-between. My favorite character is by far Arthur - watching his arc and coming into himself was such a breath of fresh air. I struggled a bit with his homophobia early in the book, but that was as much about himself than a product of the society - there are a number of queer relationships in this book, including a polyamorous one, and the representation is heartwarming. I truly adore books where both the plot and characters drive the story forward, and I can say that this is the case here! The characters bring a heart to the story and humanizes it, but the lore of Three Graces and the bargain are interesting on their own. The prose gripped me, the characters tugged at my heartstrings, and the plot had me devouring the words - I read this book in one day because I was absolutely engrossed by it. I do wish that the magic system was explained a bit more; we do not learn how it works or what the limits are. We know that the female descendants of the original Grace sisters inherit the practice, but I wish it had been fleshed out a little more! If it is knowledge passed down to the daughters in the lineage, then I don't really buy the "your heart is different" explanation about her pull to the forest because she is essentially the same as everyone else; got to love the Chosen One trope in action, although this isn't too overt and in your face. Gratton's writing is poetic, descriptive, and absolutely captivating. The characters are full of life and each experience development, and I truly enjoyed reading each of the perspectives. Often times multiple perspectives wind up being jumbled, but the way that the story develops it just flowed. Melanie said that reading this book is like reading a lucid dream and I cannot think of a better way to describe it. It's weird, and you will likely be a bit confused in the beginning with the character relationships, but I sure you will settle in and fall in love. Overall, Strange Grace is an amazing atmospheric and poetically written story that celebrates the found family, the love people feel for one another, and the sacrifices they are willing to make for the people they love. I totally wholeheartedly recommend this book and I hope that you pick it up. cw: animal death, bullying, death of a parent, gore, human sacrifice Many thanks to the publisher for providing me an electronic advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Quotations taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon final publication. Strange Grace will be released on September 18, 2018. 🤝 Buddy read with Destiny from Howling Libraries! Blog | Twitter | Pinterest

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eryn

    This sounds like all types of yummy. I can't wait to dive in!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Karima chermiti

    Actual rating : 2.5 stars Trigger warning : (view spoiler)[Body horror, violence, scary scenes (hide spoiler)] The old god and the youngest Grace witch. The story says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? Oh, this book is such a mess to me, trying to understand what the hell is happening and what are the rules to the magic the book revolves around felt like trying to find your way back home in the dark completely blindfolded. I really don’t know what was taking place hal Actual rating : 2.5 stars Trigger warning : (view spoiler)[Body horror, violence, scary scenes (hide spoiler)] The old god and the youngest Grace witch. The story says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? Oh, this book is such a mess to me, trying to understand what the hell is happening and what are the rules to the magic the book revolves around felt like trying to find your way back home in the dark completely blindfolded. I really don’t know what was taking place half of the time, maybe I didn’t pay enough attention or maybe the book failed to draw me in and make me care at all. All I know is that the book felt without aim, without direction and any semblance of plot was lost between all the nonsensical things that were happening. They made this bargain with the devil: Every seven years their best boy is sent into the forest from sundown to sunrise, on the night of the Slaughter Moon. He will live or die on his own mettle, and for his sacrifice the devil blesses Three Graces. Yes, the book is beautifully written, yes the characters are complex and layered and they have depth and dimensions, yes the dynamics between them are pure magic and I was blown away by the representation in this book, but the non-existent world building, the vague and non-linear storytelling that just frustrated me and made me grow bored didn’t turn this book into a favorite. I don’t hate this book, not even close, but I don’t love it either and the fact that it could’ve been better, makes it more disappointing that it ended up being somehow anti-climactic for my tastes. Not to mention that it wasn't fast-paced and yet it throws many characters at you and with the exception of the three main characters, they are flat and underdeveloped that when characters starts talking, I just scratch my head and try to remember whether they are important or not, whether they were mentioned before or not. The book didn’t make any sense for me that when the final twist came out of left field, I wasn’t surprised by it, this is book that makes up rules as it goes forward and they happen to suit what the author is trying to do next, that reeks of inconvenience. And that final twist just left me feeling cold, like books should work for their twists a little bit so they don’t feel out of nowhere, this book didn’t do that and even if it did, it was lost in the middle of is confusing elements. If love can protect anybody, it will protect Rhun Sayer The strength of the book comes from the three main characters themselves, like I said, they are well-written, and they are unique from one and another and they feel so deep and meaningful. Their complexity is a rare thing in YA books and I love the dynamics between them all. They are friends who are in love with each other and they all know it. They care deeply and they are willing to die for each other and yet they hide certain aspects of who they are. He misses her with a simple ache that wakes him up at night. He doesn’t know if he’s in love with her or if he wants to set her on fire I think the thing I loved about the book is Arthur character, he was the most complex of the three main ones and he’s filled with longing, torment and the feeling of being unwanted, an outsider just because the people of three graces doesn’t know what to make of him. His journey, the character development he goes through is a precious thing to me and I’ll cherish it forever When it comes to the main characters, this book feels like a coming of age a story and a journey for them to discover who they really are, what they want and what makes them free and happy and through all the things they went through, they feel this sort of acceptance to what exists between them and they embrace it with all their hearts, I mean the book ends with an embrace, both physical and metaphorical. I wish I could give this book more than 2.5 stars rating but I just didn’t enjoy it enough and even though the characters are absolutely great and compelling and captivating, they couldn’t save the mess that is this book. It’s fear. Not of the devil, but fear of change. Fear of doing anything different that might cause a ripple and bring it all down.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Meli

    LO AMÉ. Es perfecto. Una de las prosas más hermosas, poéticas y mágicas que he leído. En serio, toda la magia de este libro, que es bien, bien primitiva y llena de poesía, viene de la mano de la narración. La historia es tremendamente interesante, y del romance mejor ni hablemos porque mi corazón no puede con tanto. Impecable.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)

    This review can also be found on my blog! I received this through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Publishing September 18th! CW: animal death, bullying, trauma, grief, murder, torture, human sacrifice, abandonment, and general horror I blame Melanie. This was a great start to my spooky month. Because, sorry everyone, September is officially October Eve for me. While I did enjoy this, I had some pros and cons while reading it, which I’m going to make as succinct as possible for y’all. Ther This review can also be found on my blog! I received this through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Publishing September 18th! CW: animal death, bullying, trauma, grief, murder, torture, human sacrifice, abandonment, and general horror I blame Melanie. This was a great start to my spooky month. Because, sorry everyone, September is officially October Eve for me. While I did enjoy this, I had some pros and cons while reading it, which I’m going to make as succinct as possible for y’all. There are three main characters to this. Mairwen, a girl who is wild and a witch. Rhun, a boy raised for the slaughter as a saint. And Arthur, a boy who was raised as a girl and finds it hard to balance the gender roles presented to him. All of them are great in their own way. They’re all queer, which makes it so nice to read. They’re unabashedly queer without there being some need to exactly name what their sexuality is in this world. They are who they are and that is all that matters. However, I didn’t get extremely attached to any of them. While they were was definite development there, they felt more like plot elements. (And, in part, I think that’s the really bad formatting that the e-copy had. Made it kind of hard to track sometimes. The plot follows one specific time in their town of Three Graces. Long ago, three witches made a pact with the devil. In exchange for safety, every seven years on the slaughter moon the best boy will sacrifice his life to the devil in the forest. Mairwen is a witch who will bind the best boy. She is in love with Rhun and with Arthur. (And, yes; it’s polyam!) Rhun is the one everyone believes will be chosen to sacrifice himself. Arthur, constrained by his own dilemma, wants to prove himself as a boy and be the best. Also, Arthur has so many issues accepting his sexuality, that he’s attracted to another boy because it’s so ingrained in him that he shouldn’t be that way. One thing about the book that’s a pro and a con is that it just throws you in. There’s no info-dumping — a personal pet peeve of mine. You just start from the beginning of the day to the end of the ordeal. And, that’s it. The only con of that approach is that it’s hard to keep track and categorize the world that you’re in. It worked and it didn’t work for me, if that makes sense. Ultimately, I think it worked better than infodumping it all, but it still was hard for me to get it down since I was reading this at work during slow times. Also, it was so smooth with POV changes. It’s written in each main character’s perspective, yet each were so distinct that I followed despite the odd formatting. I love that and it takes a whole lot of talent from the author to do that. Props to Gratton for that! An element that really worked for me is how this is medieval without it explicitly being stated. That meant my brain — which LOVES anything medieval — was jumping off and thinking about relics and the belief of magic in the world and the interpretation of forests and everything else. Seriously. I loved that and that is another reason this got bumped up to four stars. It also got better as I read it. At first, it was three stars because I wasn’t too attached to anything. Then, it went to three and a half because I was getting into the plot and the general story. Then, to four because I started understanding the characters better and their motives and characterizations. Plus, I just love polyam rep. I love polyam relationships and I really enjoyed how this never exactly said it was that, but it was so obvious to everyone. Kind of like The Wicker King; it never said it, but implied it to the point you couldn’t ignore it. Honestly, I can’t wait to reread this book in its final copy because I really hated the formatting of the e-book, something that took away from my reading experience trying to track the paragraphs, lines, and POV changes.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Solomon ~ TheBookishKing

    Yikes so uhm this was boring. And I feel like I was wrongly done. RTC.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lilly (Lair Of Books)

    ARC provided by the publisher/Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review Buddy Read with Melanie @Meltotheany | Julie @Pages and Pens | Candace @ Literary Dust

  22. 4 out of 5

    Fatma

    Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster Canada for providing me with an eARC of this via NetGalley! Strange Grace has such a compelling, eerie premise: every seven years, a boy is sent into the Devil's Forest as a sacrifice to allow the village and its occupants to remain safe and prosperous for the next 7 years. Except, one day, this spell is inexplicably interrupted 3 years into the 7 year interval. THE MYSTERY. THE SUSPENSE. And I gotta admit, the first couple of chapters of this book were ver Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster Canada for providing me with an eARC of this via NetGalley! Strange Grace has such a compelling, eerie premise: every seven years, a boy is sent into the Devil's Forest as a sacrifice to allow the village and its occupants to remain safe and prosperous for the next 7 years. Except, one day, this spell is inexplicably interrupted 3 years into the 7 year interval. THE MYSTERY. THE SUSPENSE. And I gotta admit, the first couple of chapters of this book were very exciting. I wanted to find out what would happen and the air of mystery surrounding the whole thing was enticing. I also really appreciated the prominent role that diverse representation played in this story. There's great LGBTQ rep (it's hard to tell what the characters identify as since they don't explicitly use labels, but to me it seemed like the main characters were bi- or pansexual), gender identity rep (again, I can't tell for sure, but one of the main characters read to me as non-binary), and also one of the POV characters is black. Regardless, my initial interest in all of these things--the premise and the rep--waned and I was just left feeling more underwhelmed than anything. About halfway through the book I realized that I wasn't enjoying this story anymore. I think my issue with this is that the story feels very static. It has plenty of highs and lows, and yet they never really feel all that high or low. Consequently, neither the story nor its characters end up reading as dynamic. Also, something about the writing style made this quite hard to follow. I don't know if this was just me, but I had a lot of trouble visualizing scenes because the logistics were so hazy and the transitions very abrupt. Strange Grace wasn't a bad story, but the fact is, I didn't particularly enjoy it. I loved the outline of its story, but its characters and writing ultimately fell short for me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Clephiro (The Book Coven)

    This is a really hard book for me to review. I'm going to do my best, but it's a book I think you really need to experience for yourself. In the village of Three Graces, no one is sick. The village is perfect: crops never die, no one dies unnaturally, people heal from horrific injuries in just days. This is all achieved by a deal with the Devil of the forest made hundreds of years ago. In order to maintain that bargain, the village must send their best boy into the forest every seven years during This is a really hard book for me to review. I'm going to do my best, but it's a book I think you really need to experience for yourself. In the village of Three Graces, no one is sick. The village is perfect: crops never die, no one dies unnaturally, people heal from horrific injuries in just days. This is all achieved by a deal with the Devil of the forest made hundreds of years ago. In order to maintain that bargain, the village must send their best boy into the forest every seven years during the Slaughter Moon. That boy becomes a saint will run through the forest and if he can survive until morning, he may live. Most don't. Mairwen Grace is the daughter of the Grace witch and a saint. She can feel the forest in her, calling her into its' depths. She feels as though the forest itself is in her blood. Rhun Sayer is the younger brother of a saint, and has grown up knowing that he will be a saint himself. Arthur Couch is the son of a woman who wanted to protect him more than anything, and by doing so, made him an outcast. The story is told in fragments. Parts of it of the past, the present, and of the time that they spent in the forest that they cannot remember. The narration flows between characters and is not limited to the three main protagonists, but it adds to the overall fairytale-like atmosphere of the book. When I say fairytale, I don't mean the Disney adaptations, but the originals with monsters, murder and darkness. This is a dark book, and I don't say that lightly. It's not overtly violent, or have any scenes that are triggering, but it's heavy with atmosphere and there's a overall feeling of inevitability of the fates that you know are awaiting the characters. Tessa does something a bit different with the romance in this book. There seems to be love just about everywhere, and the relationships between Arthur, Marirwen and Rhun are no exception. They are complex and at times it comes off as a little too much, I think. It's definitely not going to be for everyone, but I think it was pretty well done overall.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Giulia

    "That is what the bargain is: death for life, a sacrifice that makes it all sweeter and sharper. Without it, how could we appreciate what we have? We love our saint, and he runs for us, and everyone here knows exactly how precious life is, and love itself. Everybody dies, Mairwen, but the saints of Three Graces die for a reason." TW: blood, gore, violence, bullying, torture, internalized homo/transphobia, Actual rating: 4.5 ⭐ *pterodactyl sounds* IM SCREEEEEEECHINGGG!!! DONT TOuCH ME, IM EMO Holy M "That is what the bargain is: death for life, a sacrifice that makes it all sweeter and sharper. Without it, how could we appreciate what we have? We love our saint, and he runs for us, and everyone here knows exactly how precious life is, and love itself. Everybody dies, Mairwen, but the saints of Three Graces die for a reason." TW: blood, gore, violence, bullying, torture, internalized homo/transphobia, Actual rating: 4.5 ⭐️ *pterodactyl sounds* IM SCREEEEEEECHINGGG!!! DONT TOuCH ME, IM EMO Holy Mother of God. Wow. Just fucking wow . This was spectacular. Honestly, I don’t think I can actually manage to write a Rather Random Review™️ that actually makes sense so, please, forgive the raving and messy and emotional review. This is the best I could do. I’ll try and be as clear as humanly possible. Okay, lemme start with a synopsis because otherwise some things I write won’t make sense: At the verge of a dark and lovely forest is the village of Three Graces. And, as every forest worthy of its name, a Devil lives in its shades. A pact has been sealed between the Devil and the village; a pact that started with love but ended with fear. The Devil and a Grace Witch fell in love. And they created the pact: every seven years, a new boy - the best boy of the village - has to run into the forest and sacrifice himself for the well-being of the village. Indeed, Three Graces is blessed and full of love: nobody gets sick, it rains the perfect amount, the crofts flourish, people are happy. All this because of this pact. But this year, things are different. This year, the pact is weaker. This year, the Devil is right next you. This year is full of fear. The writing style was gorgeous. Thanks for coming to my TED talk. No, in all seriousness. This writing style was so immersive and detailed. Atmospheric and the perfect amount of flowery. It was super evocative, eerie and almost poetic. The dark fairy-tale vibes, the spooky factor, the pure terror and the gore and…yeah, I loved this. THE SETTING WAS PHENOMENAAAAAL! Creepy AF and atmospheric, which I was living for. I love books set near a creepy and dangerous and mysterious forest (I blame this on Uprooted). It was so scary and violent, and yet so incredibly addictive and delicate! I live for those aesthetics. Never, in the history of literature, terror has been so sweet. The topics tackled in this book knocked me out the freaking park. Gender fluidity, gender expectations, gender roles, sexuality in general. This book was so wonderfully diverse and queer and inclusive when it came to sexual orientations, and so interesting and appropriate when tackled said gender-related issues. It was astonishing. It was both heart-warming and heart-wrenching. The polyamorous ship was to die for. I always wanted polyamorous relationship to be represented in literature because they are part of what life is, and also because I have a very soft spot for them (*cough* The Foxhole Court I’m looking at you *cough*) so I was beyond ecstatic when I learned that this book featured one. I am obsessed! I was so engrossed by their dynamics and their connection. I love these three dysfunctional kids so goddamn much! And, talking about the characters, allow me to rave about them. Because, DAMN, they were splendid. Arthur: My love; my angry, violent, insicure cinnamon role. He was fire-y and scared; lovely and dangerous. He was my favourite of the three. Loved his character arc and how strong and brave he became. I was so proud of my broken baby by the end of the book. Raised as a girl because his mother couldn’t stand the thought of loosing him because of the pact, he’s trapped between the two gender and doesn’t know who he is. He feels like he has to prove himself to the village and society, and struggles to come to terms with his feelings and his fears. I FUCKING LOVED HIM! He deserves a hug. Protect Arthur 2K18 Mairwen: half saint (from her father’s side) and half witch (from her mother’s), she’s the fearless and fierce Queen we all need and deserve. She was strong and determined, stubborn and impulsive. But also smart and caring, kind and lovable. Her connection to the forest was chilling and so interesting. Her character was impressive, really. Rhun: my boooooooooooy! My man, my main dude. Sweet. So sweet you’d get a cavity just by thinking about him. He wears his hearts on his sleeve proudly; he’s the embodiment of gentleness. Kind, loving, caring, scared, brave, phenomenal. The best boy in the village; actually, the best boy in the whole world, in my opinion. He could throw me under a bus and I’d thank him, tbh. But I am me. And thus I can’t help but have some issues. There were minor issues, but they also were the reason behind my not five-stars review. Sometimes I thought this book was messy and jumpy. And also, sometimes the story felt a bit clumpy? Not always everything made sense and was clear enough :/ At one point, everything got too convoluted and started being confusing. And I wasn't particularly a fan of that. And allow me to be incredibly specific but...I just have one question: why did they call each other by their full names so many times? 😅 Like, I know it’s ridiculous but once I noticed it…I couldn’t stop noticing it and it kinda got to my nerves. So many times I've read name and surname and...I mean...*eye roll* Another thing was that the violence and gore were very graphic. Maybe a bit too much for my weak and sorry self. None-the-fucking-less, this book was a masterpiece and I highly recommend it. Seriously, pick this book up if it sounds even a tiny bit appealing to you. You won't regret it. "Nobody says who you are but you. It doesn’t matter who anybody wants us to be. We choose. We decide."

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elisa

    Well, there it is: my most disappointing read of the year. I couldn’t have imagined this book would be it. I read Tessa Gratton’s The Queens of Innis Lear earlier this year and truly, absolutely loved it. It is one of my absolute favorite books of the year, or even the past couple of years. Her writing is beautiful and evocative, so when I found out she had written a mystery novel full of magic and a touch of horror, I was really excited. But this book... this was NOT GOOD. It was confusing, disjo Well, there it is: my most disappointing read of the year. I couldn’t have imagined this book would be it. I read Tessa Gratton’s The Queens of Innis Lear earlier this year and truly, absolutely loved it. It is one of my absolute favorite books of the year, or even the past couple of years. Her writing is beautiful and evocative, so when I found out she had written a mystery novel full of magic and a touch of horror, I was really excited. But this book... this was NOT GOOD. It was confusing, disjointed, weird — and not in a “I have no clue what’s going on but this is so exciting and I can’t wait to find out more” way, more in a puzzled “okaaaay... ?!?” way, where you want to trust the story, but you just can’t see how this disjointed, piecey narrative is going to come together, so you spend most of the time dreading it but hoping to be wrong. The setting was clear and fairly vivid, and the world building was ok. But I found the characters so... distant, and I feel like despite this being a character-driven story, we don’t really get to know them. They feel remote and kind of vague, like they are just a sketch of a full character. They didn’t pull me in, I didn’t feel close to them; and I really tried! But they feel a tad one-dimensional and somehow sort of doing their thing in the background, even though we are reading about them all the time. It’s the weirdest thing. I am still nearly drowning in disappointment and I don’t want to get bitter, so I’ll just say I’m giving this 2 STARS and I can’t really recommend it, sadly.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anyssa

    Ummm... This is my third time writing this review… I just don’t know about this book! I really don’t. I don’t know if to like this or like like this. Confusing, right? I know! So, I didn’t love this, but I of course didn’t hate it either. I finished this THREE days ago and I still can’t fully review this so I’m going to try + hope you understand my unorganized thoughts! The good: I’m sure you’ve seen from many reviews about the polyamory relationship. Now this is one of the great things in this book Ummm... This is my third time writing this review… I just don’t know about this book! I really don’t. I don’t know if to like this or like like this. Confusing, right? I know! So, I didn’t love this, but I of course didn’t hate it either. I finished this THREE days ago and I still can’t fully review this so I’m going to try + hope you understand my unorganized thoughts! The good: I’m sure you’ve seen from many reviews about the polyamory relationship. Now this is one of the great things in this book because everyone just loves everyone here! Seriously, you even get these vibes from side characters and even Mair’s mother is in a f/f relationship that is very quickly mentioned. And it’s wonderful!Love is a big thing in this book and it’s encouraged as protection and strength. YA needs more LOVE.   “This valley is made on love, little bird. Find love. Seek it, always. That is where our power resides.” The forest! The Devil’s Forest is its own being entirely. It’s alive. You feel it from the very beginning and it’s actuallyspooky! The way the forest is described is so creepy good! It’s inviting and dark and full of terrible secrets you need know all about. I wanted to walk in there myself because no one would and I just kept waiting and waiting for it!   THE WRITING WAS BEAUTIFUL.   This book gave me goosebumps! I loved it! I haven’t read too many scary/creepy books and I really wish I have! I want more. Recommend me good you-might-not-be-able-to-sleep-after-this book(s)! I. AM. READY. (sort of – I’m a little scared) GIVE ME ALL THE SPOOKY BOOKS. Anyway, the vibes of the whole book are very moviesque. This would do really well as a movie, it’s that entertaining! It’s a dark fairy-tale and it’s hauntingly lovely.   “I fell in love with the forest. And the forest loved me back. And so, we traded hearts. Mine is here, larger and stronger than it could have been in the small cavern of my body.”   So, now onto the bad: I found this only entertaining. But very entertaining at that. I felt this book lacked depth on a few aspects. Such as pacing, and characters: We see the relationship between Rhun, Arthur, and Mair, or rather we are told of it. We don’t see too much of individual monologue or why they love each other just that they do! It’s not explored as I would have loved it to be because this relationship was just great that it even existed so why not add to it y’know? That was disappointing for me. Their love needed to be explored more. We also mainly only feel the love of two characters, or rather, we don’t experience much of Arthur.  And he turned out to be my favorite in the end! We don’t get to connect with the characters as I would have liked. There we go. This was my main point.  The world-building was also done in the same manner. We are kind of told that “this is they way things are done” but that’s about it. We are never told why or how certain things came to be. Like Mairwen’s magic for example, she weaves bones and makes charms, but it is never too detailed as to why she does certain things, and if you don’t have any prior knowledge on the matter, you’re a little lost. I would’ve liked some background on her families magic is all. Also, the book is weirdly contradicting? Most of the vibes you get are love vibes as I said, such as a Main character and a side character possibly having feelings toward each other, and the main relationship, as well as others, but then the village is shown to be against it and it’s not clear why either. The village is big on sex roles and feels at times homophobic, but then in other instances the people of the village (or certain people) don’t seem to really care whom you love! Everyone just loves everyone. It got a little confusing. I feel like you kind of just have to go with the flow on this book? Or maybe it’s just me. I may be a little lost.. If anyone wants to explain anything it seems I missed, please let me know because I did thoroughly enjoy this book! But I’m a bit frustrated with it. The beginning was sooo good and it hooks you right in! It grabs your heart and it feels like it’s never going to let go, like it’s going to drag you into the forest but you’re looking forward to it! But, then, the second half of the book comes along and the pacing just gets a bit weird and you realize this no longer has a hold of your heart but you’re already so invested in it so you must finish it but it isn’t the same anymore.. – That was basically my experience in a nutshell.  Overall, it’s a slow, spooky, poetic book. The writing is wonderfully lyrical, and that’s really what kept me going. Despite me not loving this one, it’s still one you should pick up! I highly recommend it. 4 stars because I cannot ignore that writing&rep!

  27. 4 out of 5

    ❈ laura ❈

    DNF at 30% In Strange Grace we follow Three Graces, a village that made a bargain with the devil who lives in the forest that surrounds them. In exchange to ensure their prosperity (good harvests, only death by old age, etc) they must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil's Forest every seven years when the Slaughter Moon rises. But no one knows why has risen early. I can't talk much about this book because I dnf'ed it, it just wasn't the book for me. I can see why people could enjo DNF at 30% In Strange Grace we follow Three Graces, a village that made a bargain with the devil who lives in the forest that surrounds them. In exchange to ensure their prosperity (good harvests, only death by old age, etc) they must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil's Forest every seven years when the Slaughter Moon rises. But no one knows why has risen early. I can't talk much about this book because I dnf'ed it, it just wasn't the book for me. I can see why people could enjoy it with its witchy vibes but I couldn't. I was really bored while reading this book and I was hard for me to pick it up. If it's something that interests you I encourage you to read it, but it isn't something that I will actively recommend.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Do you ever read a book where the whole time your mouth kind of gapes open and your eyes are a little bigger than they should be because what dafuq did I just read? Tessa Gratton's Strange Grace is the definition of dark fantasy and a book that surprised me over and over again. This novel is an intense story wrapped up in just a whole lot of f**kery. The first half is a little slow, a little drawn out, building and building to the main event: the saint's run into the Devil's Forest. In this time, Do you ever read a book where the whole time your mouth kind of gapes open and your eyes are a little bigger than they should be because what dafuq did I just read? Tessa Gratton's Strange Grace is the definition of dark fantasy and a book that surprised me over and over again. This novel is an intense story wrapped up in just a whole lot of f**kery. The first half is a little slow, a little drawn out, building and building to the main event: the saint's run into the Devil's Forest. In this time, the backstories of each character are laid out, the history of the village and woods delightfully teased and embellished, and the emotions swirling around that big night bared on all levels. We get three POVs that give very different perspectives. Throughout this, I was riveted, reading on and on, unable to wait for that moment where we finally enter the cursed forests. It finally happens at about the halfway mark, and Gratton turns that sh*t on it's head. Not only do we NOT get to see the woods, but we are left with a huge helping of WHAT IS GOING ON as everyone else tries to figure out what happened. The events are slowly revealed through dark, twisted flashbacks that made this book a perfect five-star. I've been dying to read Tessa Gratton since I got to read a little bit of The Queens of Innis Lear, and I was so excited to get a copy of this (from Netgalley AND Edelweiss, thank you very much!) Simply put, Gratton's writing is awe-inspiring. It's beautiful, lush, vivid, lyrical, decadent ... I could go on and on and still not put my finger on the right word. The setting in this is so unbelievably haunting and atmospheric, the woods in particular. I'm currently plotting my own fantasy that centres on a forbidden forest, and I will be drawing a lot from this for inspiration. The vibe of these woods is incredible and almost tangible. One point in this book that stuck out so starkly to me is when we meet the devil. The way he is described, shape-shifting and deadly, is utterly gorgeous. I'll stop there. This is really just turning into a paragraph where I cram in as many adjectives as I can. And of course, I can't end without dipping into representation. There is a clear representation of LGBTQ in this novel. One character spent his formative years thinking he was a girl, so there is a lot of anger and baggage to unpack for him. Another is clearly into another boy, but can't do much as it's behaviour highly frowned upon in the village. I usually don't read books where the main characters are labelled as LGBTQ, only because it's not representation I'm looking for personally. I choose not to read that particular content, just like I'm not keen on contemporary novels or proper faerie stories. That said, I try to change my mind every once in a while and this was very well done. I found myself rooting for the characters in question to get their happy ending and booing those getting all up in their business, because it's certainly none of theirs. For the record, it took me five days to come up enough coherent thoughts to put together review. This book left me so stunned and speechless and I cannot express enough how much of a surprise this was. Nor can I wait to get my hands on more of Gratton's work.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Burns

    3 Stars Review: *I received an ecopy of this book via Edelweiss. This has not influenced my review.* This book has a different sort of premise, and I was especially drawn in by what I'd seen reviewers mention about a non-binary character and a polyamorous relationship. This is a hard review for me to write though because it certainly wasn't a bad book, but it didn't end up being quite what I expected. As I said, this was a somewhat unique premise, and I liked that. The book was a bit slow for a whil 3 Stars Review: *I received an ecopy of this book via Edelweiss. This has not influenced my review.* This book has a different sort of premise, and I was especially drawn in by what I'd seen reviewers mention about a non-binary character and a polyamorous relationship. This is a hard review for me to write though because it certainly wasn't a bad book, but it didn't end up being quite what I expected. As I said, this was a somewhat unique premise, and I liked that. The book was a bit slow for a while, but it picked up around the halfway mark when the characters went into the forest. From then on, things were mysterious and intriguing and a little bit twisty. I also loved the forest! The forest and its creatures, devil/god, and magic were very cool. I can't say too much because of spoilers, but I especially loved how certain things were described. They sounded strangely beautiful. Very nature-y and animal-y. And the compelling aspect of the magic was neat to read about. My biggest issue though was how distanced I felt from the characters, like I was watching rather than experiencing through them. They were likeable, and I could root for them, but I didn't really know them. I was told what they were like more than shown---Rhun was good, Arthur was pointy, and Mairwen was bold. I was also kind of told what they felt for each other, but it was vague and confusing, so I didn't truly feel or understand the connections between them. (Although Rhun and Arthur seemed to have the most passionate feelings for each other, with a nice side of angst. I like angst.) It was also hard to keep track of whose POV I was in. All were third-person and sounded the same, and context rarely helped since the characters were often together. There also seemed to be some head-hopping or omniscience. Another related issue I had, which might not bother other people at all, was the town in general. I thought the story would be about an isolated place where they gave sacrifices because they had to, because it was all they knew, because there was no rest of the world for them to turn to if anything bad happened. Instead, anyone could leave at any time, get supplies, etc. And when something was wrong with their bargain, they all just seemed mildly concerned. The story would've worked better for me had they been isolated and/or had the townspeople's fear and desperation (if that's even how they felt) been explored more. Last but not least... The non-binary character was one thing that drew me in, but I'm not sure he was actually non-binary. Arthur was raised as a girl for the first seven years of his life. But after that he never referred to himself as anything other than a boy, even though he did have a lot of inner struggles and mentioned that he sometimes missed being a girl. That being said, I found this to be the most thought-provoking aspect of the book. It made me think about just how much of gender is a social construct and how much it affects us because Arthur was happy as a girl until he was told otherwise. If everyone were raised as a different gender, how many people would feel perfectly content that way? Obviously not everyone, but maybe some would. Or what if we didn't raise kids with gender at all? Or what if we had no roles or expectations associated with gender? I like that this book got me pondering. Overall, this book wasn't quite what I was expecting, and the distance from the characters made it hard for me to connect with them, but I still enjoyed the mysterious plot and the otherworldly forest magic, and I think plenty of readers will like this one, especially those who like witchy stuff. Recommended For: Anyone who like mysterious stories, nature-y witches, and forest magic. Original Review @ Metaphors and Moonlight

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hannah (Ink and Myths)

    🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 (5.00/5.00) “That is what the bargain is: death for life, a sacrifice that makes it all sweeter and sharper. Without it, how could we appreciate what we have? We love our saint, and he runs for us, and everyone here knows exactly how precious life is, and love itself. Everybody dies, Mairwen, but the saints of Three Graces die for a reason.” Strange Grace is dark and eerie in the best way possible; it’s a novel as strange as the title suggests and I loved every page! The concept alone is s 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 (5.00/5.00) “That is what the bargain is: death for life, a sacrifice that makes it all sweeter and sharper. Without it, how could we appreciate what we have? We love our saint, and he runs for us, and everyone here knows exactly how precious life is, and love itself. Everybody dies, Mairwen, but the saints of Three Graces die for a reason.” Strange Grace is dark and eerie in the best way possible; it’s a novel as strange as the title suggests and I loved every page! The concept alone is so unique: there’s a village called Three Graces, in which no one gets sick and the plants grow and only those of old age might die — what’s the downside?, you might ask. Well, the villagers made a deal with the devil and once every seven years, when the Slaughter Moon rises, a young man, the best of all the villagers, has to go into the Devil’s Forest as a sacrifice. Tessa Gratton tells this story mainly through three POVs: there’s Mairwen, the Grace witch whose ancestor fell in love with the Devil and made a deal with him; there’s Rhun, the boy everyone expects to be the next saint; and then there’s Arthur, angry Arthur, who feels like an outsider and is somewhere in between (he was my favourite. Honestly, I would die for Arthur Couch). “Oh, Arthur Couch. There is no way to win. It is a sacrifice, not a game. It must be done for love.” Arthur’s anger is so hard to watch, though: he’s filled with fire, with rage and desperation. I’m sorry for him, for how he doesn’t know who he is and longs for a version he could’ve been, if things had been different. How he wants to be the best, but feels like he is never enough (for some reason, Arthur Couch reminds me a lot of Adam Parrish; generally Strange Grace reminds me of a very dark version of The Raven Cycle and I love it!) The dynamics between the three protagonists are actually what I liked most in this book — they just love each other so much and it’s beautiful!!! Also, the writing. It’s so lovely and filled with magic and it makes the whole world Tessa Gratton crafted in this book truly come to life. If you enjoy lyrical writing, you are going to fall in love with Strange Grace, I promise you that! The world-building overall is excellent! There are witches and devils and a creepy af forest (it reminded me of Uprooted, so if you like that one, you should give Strange Grace a try for sure!). What’s not to like? Lastly, I want to say how much I love Tessa Gratton for all the rep there is in this book. The main couple is in a polyamorous relationship, something I’ve never seen before in a book, and it is brilliantly done. Like, above I said they all love each other so much — and I mean, they really do! There’s bi and gay representation, a f/f relationship and a non-binary main character. And I’m pretty sure that Rhun and his family are black. “This valley is made on love, little bird. Find love. Seek it, always. That is where our power resides.” All in all, I just fell completely in love with this book. Tessa Gratton’s beautiful writing style, the character dynamics and just the world itself pulled me under their spell and I think I just found a new favourite author! I love the message of the story: that magic is tied to sacrifice but even more to love. And I think this is a book that just gets better and better the more often you read it and I’m sure I’ll do just that! I will be honest, though: till the last page I didn’t know how to rate this book, 4 or 5 stars, but the ending was so perfect and everything I hoped for and I just knew that it deserved the best rating there is! I want to thank Tessa Gratton, for writing this breathtaking novel, as well as the publisher, Simon & Schuster, and Edelweiss, who provided me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All quotes were taken from an advanced reader’s copy and may be subject to change.

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