The Graces is a story about one girl’s obsession. To fit in. To discover their secrets. To find her father. River and her mother recently moved to a small town where they can start over after River’s father left them. It is there that she first sees the Graces. The Graces have perfected the art of appearing above it all. They’re friends only with themselves, their parents are mysterious, and all of them have odd behaviors. River knows that she needs to get in with them if she wants to have a chance at getting her father back. But things aren’t always what they seem. Everyone says that the Graces are witches; but are they? Obsession can lead you into dangerous places without you even realizing it.
It’s hard to review books like The Graces because I don’t want to reveal too much. So a lot of the wording in this review is going to be roundabout and vague intentionally. This novel follows the popular trend to have a thriller with an unreliable narrator. Unfortunately, the “thriller” aspect of this novel wasn’t there for me. I just didn’t find it very thrilling. If anything, the things that are meant to set it as a thriller just came off as a bit flat. This is because I didn’t feel that there was much or any set-up for most of the things that occurred in the novel, giving it a very disjointed feeling regarding the action. It just happened and I was expected to believe it. In retrospect, I do think I can pinpoint when and what were meant to be the “hint-hint-nudge-nudge” moments of the book, but I still don’t feel that it was strong enough. Because of that, I didn’t feel that there was much action in this book in the plotting sense.
The majority of the novel was viewed through the protagonist’s eyes, but it was like she wasn’t engaging, which was frustrating. Much of the novel was pure dialogue and the lack of action tags made it difficult to keep up with who was talking at times. River was an unreliable narrator, so while we knew that she was keeping things from the Graces, she was also keeping them from the reader. It sometimes works. I didn’t feel that it worked in the case of The Graces. I did enjoy reading River’s gradual slide into full on obsession. She manipulated the Graces by keeping things about herself secret and being a mirror for their feelings. By becoming the ultimate listener, River learned things about the Graces that other people hadn’t. Everything they told her only made her more obsessed with them. She felt that she found people who understood her. This happened right away in the beginning of the novel when River introduces herself. She’s never felt like her birth name describes her, something that Summer Grace understands. Because there’s a focus on being who the Graces expect her to be, the reader never finds out what River’s birth name is, making her more of an enigma.
Now we come to the thing that is the most difficult thing for me to describe as a reviewer. The overwhelming feeling of nothing that this book left me with. It’s rather odd; while reading this book I was fascinated with what was happening. I wanted to see what River would discover and if the questions that were being put forward about the Graces would be answered or not. The four of them run into some trouble in the book and it’s not easy to get out of trouble when people are watching you constantly and waiting for any misstep. But once I got to what should have been the climax of the story, it just fell short. There was a lack of proper buildup. Of course, I’m sure it will work for many readers. But it left me with the sense that although reading this was enjoyable and I do think Laure Eve can create characters that are interesting, I didn’t actually find the book itself that interesting. I don’t feel like there’s anything to rave about. Neither to I feel that there’s anything to talk about negatively. It just exists as it is.
I recommend The Graces for readers who like extremely unreliable narrators. However, I feel that the unreliable narrator aspect was done better in books like We Were Liars and Beware that Girl. If you’re intrigued by that and the fact that there may or may not be witches involved, give it a go. As for myself, I will not be continuing with this series. It didn’t leave anything memorable in my mind and I feel that it can work as a standalone novel.
I received a copy of The Graces from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The Graces is coming September 1st, 2016.