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Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

BOTTOM LINE: I love any novel that shows women realizing their potential and setting about righting the wrongs of patriarchal societies!

Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publication Date: 31 July 2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“Serina Tessaro has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace–someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. It’s her chance to secure a better life for her family, and to keep her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, out of trouble. But when Nomi catches the Heir’s eye instead, Serina is the one who takes the fall for the dangerous secret her sister has been hiding.

Trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one option: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to save Serina. But this is easier said than done…. A traitor walks the halls of the palazzo, and deception lurks in every corner.

Meanwhile Serina is running out of time. Imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive, surrounded by women stronger than she is, one wrong move could cost her everything. There is no room for weakness on Mount Ruin, especially weaknesses of the heart.

Thrilling and captivating, Grace and Fury is a story of fierce sisterhood, and of survival in a world that’s determined to break you.”

My Thoughts: In young adult fiction, strong young heroines who help save the world have been a mainstay of such stories for a decade or more. However, this does not mean that authors are overusing this character type. If anything, given the headlines these days, women of all ages need these heroines to remind us to keep fighting no matter how exhausting or painful it is. They remind us that all revolutions start small, and all it takes to grow is that one person to stand up for what is right. In this regard, Nomi and Serina are two more great examples of women fighting the good fight.

What makes Grace and Fury stand out from a crowded field of similar novels is the anger simmering beneath the surface of the story. While Nomi’s anger is upfront, it is the anger underneath that fuels the narrative. As both girls gain more exposure to their new homes, they begin to understand just how angry women are at their enforced situations. They also begin to recognize the machinations that exist solely to keep women submissive. As their awareness grows, so does the antagonistic energy that surrounds each woman with whom the girls interact, until eventually, neither girl can ignore the suppressed truth.

In many ways, one can relate what happens to the sisters to current headlines. Just as the girls become more aware of the undercurrents of tension in their fictional world, there is an anger among women in the real world which is only beginning to surface. Serina and Nomi gain greater understanding and knowledge of their lack of rights, but women everywhere are fighting to maintain theirs. Both groups face a firmly entrenched patriarchy that has generations of traditions, social mores, and other insidious forms of subjugation of which so many of us have never been consciously aware. The worlds may be different, but the enemy we face remains the same.

Grace and Fury is not perfect. In fact, the story is highly predictable, and the big plot twist is so obvious that there is no surprise. However, it remains an excellent story if only because it is inspiring. In the real world, women are angry and have been since November 2016. If it takes a fictional pair of sisters to create the spark needed for women to move beyond anger and into action, then I welcome it with open arms.

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