Small Town Secrets

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Publication Date: April 2, 2019

Summary from Goodreads:

devouring grayOn the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…
Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbors treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.
When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

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ARC provided by Disney Book Group via NetGalley for an honest review:

Confession:

If you are looking at that cover and thinking to yourself, “Wow that looks like a really creepy book!” you would be right.  That cover really sets the tone for this book.  Then as you start to read and encounter some wonderful atmospheric writing and you have an eerie and  nightmarish read.

The story is mostly told through Violet, Justin and Harper’s points of view. 

  • Violet as the newcomer has a very interesting perspective on what is happening in the town, and while she thinks it’s weird, she is skeptical of what she learns.   But once she starts to manifest her powers, she becomes more invested in learning the truth behind all of the lies and deceptions. 
  • Justin is an interesting character, he is the only one without powers which sets him apart from the others.  His perspective is probably the most trustworthy, you could tell he wanted the best for the town as well as truly wanting to help Violet.   
  • Harper was so angry and resentful most of the time, she was hard to trust, but she was perhaps the strongest of all of them. 
  • There are two other teens that figure into the story, Issac and May.  Issac is also very angry all the time, and his backstory was perhaps the saddest.  May’s power was the most interesting, but she so wants to please her mother all the time that it was hard to like her.

The adults in the story were all despicable.  Justin and May’s mom was maybe the least horrible, she at least thought that what she was doing was in the town’s best interest.  Harper’s dad was just plain horrid and a really nasty piece of work.  He didn’t care about using people, including his own daughters, as long as he got what he wanted.  I didn’t blame any of the kids for rebelling against them.  Violet’s mom and aunt were ok, but they also had their issues.

The one thing that I really liked was that the beast in the woods was never really described.  We just learn of it through it’s actions and the emotions that it invokes in others.  I thought that this was way creepier than a description could ever be.

The plot on the whole was interesting and kept you engaged to the end.  I can’t say much about it as I don’t want to give any spoilers. There were some choppy areas at times, where the plot didn’t quite work, or the view point changed quickly from one character to another, but over all was very well done for a debut author.  There are moments of stunning clarity and some nice turns of phrase.  The questionable methods used by the founders to protect the town, will make for some interesting discussions by readers. 

I really enjoyed this creepy story about a small town that is harboring a secret and the teens who are willing to risk their lives to save it.   

 

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