Title: The Graces
Author: Laure Eve
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Goodreads Synopsis: Everyone said the Graces were witches.
They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.
They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.
All I had to do was show them that person was me.
Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?
This beautifully-written thriller will grip you from its very first page.
When I read the awful reviews of this book, I mentally prepared myself for the worst. One star reviews are never good, and I was afraid that this was going to be a grade A shit show. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. I’ve never read Twilight, so I can’t make comparisons there, but many reviewers did. Take from that what you will.
This book chronicles River’s obsession with the Graces, a popular, wealthy, good-looking, and enigmatic family in her small coastal town. Gossip abounds about the Graces being witches, which sparks River’s imagination and leads to her obsession with befriending them. Let me tell you, River is a creep monster from Planet Weird. She knows things about this family that this family doesn’t even know about this family, and it is TERRIFYING. She’s a little Perks of Being a Wallflower in her observations of the world around her, and I was intrigued and unsettled at the same time.
River is as untrustworthy a narrator as a wolverine with a ‘pet me’ sign. As a reader, you get the impression that she is purposely leaving things out, as unreliable narrators do. If anything, it only made me fly through the book even faster because I wanted to know what she was hiding, damn it! However, her acute case of Special Snowflake Syndrome put me off. I thought she had some sort of social anxiety at first, but it turns out she’s just an asshole. She walls up against everyone she deems unworthy, afraid to let anyone into her life. She is constantly judging the people around her, making jealous and petty observations of the people who only want what she wants, to be in the Grace’s good graces.
River alternates between being timid and never saying anything without meticulously planning it out and delusionally believing that she is super special and deserving of holding Fenrin (the love of her life)’s interest. Because no one else had ever thought they would be the one to change him, obviously. Motivated by a desire to feel special and included, she blatantly uses Summer to get closer to Fenrin and having magic of her own, a fact she denies. The most confusing part about all of this is that she has this insane desire to be accepted and included, but she is an asshole to just about everyone she comes into contact with. River is a walking contradiction and deserves her own Sour Patch Kids commercial. I think Eve intended to explain away River’s character faults with the twist at the end, but I didn’t buy what she was selling. Yes, it did explain a few things and made me sympathize with her character more, but I still don’t see why she had to wall herself up from the outside world.
I think this book could have been a lot better if we had spent considerably less time on obsessing over the Graces in the first half, and if the reveal had happened earlier on. The book built up to the climax and then suddenly tapered off at the end. Which, I suppose, I should have expected given that every big event that happened was followed up with “and a week later blah blah blah…” But seriously. Need a conclusion, need to explore what the big reveal means. Why does the second book have to be so far away?