GUYS. Talk about a surprise read! I thought I’d enjoy this book but I didn’t think I’d enjoy it this much.
☀ Summertime vibes
💛 Fantasy romance
A huge thank you to the publisher for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review!
This Vicious Grace is a story that somehow balances the scales of character and plot perfectly, while maintaining one of the most swoonworthy romances I’ve seen in the YA genre.The characters are intriguing, the world is Italian-inspired, and the romance? Well, the romance is very nearly impeccable. I will riot if booktok doesn’t lose its mind over this story because it 1000% deserves it.
This story’s official synopsis starts out with the line “Three weddings. Three funerals.” I MEAN, HELLO??? We follow a girl named Alessa, who is a Finestra charged with saving an entire continent from a swarm of demons that come every couple of decades. A Finestra is able to amplify the abilities of people called Fontes, who essentially have magical abilities. Unfortunately, Alessa keeps killing Fontes whenever she touches them. As time runs out to find her Fonte, she enlists the help of a very dark, brooding, grumpy bodyguard name Dante to protect her.
I am obsessed with this book! Alessa is an amazing main character. She’s funny, smart, caring…and just wants to be able to touch another human being. The romance in this is so slowburn and perfect because any sort of touch has a heavier weight to it than in other books. Her relationships with the Fontes, Dante, and her twin brother are all handled so incredibly well. I rarely felt like any aspects of any of the relationships were rushed.
Alessa’s struggle to control her powers (and, you know, not kill the limited number of people who could help save the entire continent from destruction) made this book more character-focused than I originally thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a lot of excitement since Doomsday is on its way but the quiet moments in this story were very well-done.
And the Italian influences! My 25% Italian heart was so happy! Dante (Alessa’s bodyguard) occasionally spoke Italian, and there were Italian proverbs at the beginning of every chapter. The world just felt simultaneously familiar and fantastical.
ANYWAYS time to talk about Dante! First of all, he READS. Second of all, I don’t have to continue because I know you all just gasped at my first point. The romance in this book is slowburn, funny, and feels genuine. My issue with a lot of YA fantasy books is that I feel like they just throw a romance in there because the characters are hormonal, have no other options, and apparently don’t care that the world’s going to end. But this romance worked. I want more bodyguard romances in fantasy, please and thank you.
I saw a couple of reviewers complaining about the final climax, but I thought it was pretty well-written. It was just exciting enough without overstaying its welcome!
After I finished This Vicious Grace, my initial instinct was to give it 5 stars. And I’m sort of going to do that, but with a few caveats. You see, this had just a few hiccups that can be chalked up to this being a debut. I love supporting debut authors because they don’t always get the chance to publish another book, and to learn and grow from their mistakes. So this book certainly had some rushed worldbuilding, a few tropey moments, and some slight plotting issues, but they didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of this novel. So while this is essentially 4.5 stars, I’m giving it “The Debut 5 Stars” because I truly do think that Emily Thiede has the potential to take the genre by storm and become one of my favorite authors!
So that’s it! Truly, this book is going to be marked as one of the best debuts of the year, I guarantee it. It comes out tomorrow, so be sure to order a copy, add it to Goodreads, and add it to Storygraph! Tell me: what’s a country that you want a fantasy-romance to either be inspired by or set in?