Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa’s gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner’s magic, not kill every suitor she touches.
Now, with only weeks left until a hungry swarm of demons devours everything on her island home, Alessa is running out of time to find a partner and stop the invasion. When a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island’s only hope, her own soldiers try to assassinate her.
Desperate to survive, Alessa hires Dante, a cynical outcast marked as a killer, to become her personal bodyguard. But as rebellion explodes outside the gates, Dante’s dark secrets may be the biggest betrayal. He holds the key to her survival and her heart, but is he the one person who can help her master her gift or destroy her once and for all?
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Alessa just wants to be done, but with only weeks left till an apocalyptic plague devours everything on her Island, and three deaths behind her, she desperately needs to find the Fonte to her Finestra, the person whose power she can use to keep the deadly force at bay, hopefully not killing themselves in the process. She’s desperate, and her island know it, tensions are running high and there has been more than one attempt on her life, so she does the one thing no one will expect, hires her own guard, an outcast named Dante who is gruff and standoffish, but takes his job extremely seriously. But Dante has secrets, secrets that could unravel the lore behind all that Alessa knows, he could be her saviour or her destroyer, only time and a little faith will tell.
I went into this book with super high expectations after some blogger friends rated it highly, which is why it might not have wholly hit the mark for me. As much as I enjoyed this book, there were just a couple of things that made sure I didn’t love it. This Vicious Grace is told solely from Alessa’s POV, and what a sad and heartwarming POV it is. After being chosen as the next Finestra, essentially the saviour of the Island, Alessa had to loose everything, her name, her family and be known only as Finestra. No one could touch her, except the person she chose to become her Fonte, and with Alessa having accidentally killed her first three picks, no one is exactly jumping at the chance. She is a woman starving, for friends, for family, for human touch, but she is also someone afraid of getting too close for fear of what she will do. It’s incredibly easy to empathise with her character and you can’t help but want her to get a happy ending, no matter how far off that may seem.
As well as Alessa we get a stand out cast of side characters from the Fonte’s she trains with, to the previous Finestra and Fonte whose job it is to get her ready for her duty. All of these characters add to Alessa’s emotional journey in some way, but the person who has the biggest impact is Dante. Their relationship doesn’t start off on the best of terms, Alessa thinks Dante is a killer and Dante thinks Alessa is some kind of spoiled fanatic living her best life in a safe tower until she performs her duty. But their truths are wholly different and, while there were some things about their relationship I didn’t love, their support and belief in one another was something special.
One thing I loved about this book was the magic system and I am so happy to learn this is the first in a series because I have questions! Thanks to meddling Gods centuries ago, every generation see’s the birth of a Finestra, a girl with no power themselves but the ability to expand that of their chosen Fonte, someone born with a magical power. On the day of Divorando an ancient plague attacks the city and this holy pair are called upon to dispatch it and keep the Islanders safe. How Theide weaved Italian mythology and world building into her story was expertly done, there were no major info dumps and I found everything extremely easy to understand. The story kind of lacks pace in certain parts and then the end was far too rushed in my opinion. I wanted more of the battle and the lead up to it, but because the author took her time getting there, it all just felt a little rushed and under developed.
Now for the romance which was one of my big sticking points of the book. It just felt too fast for me, Alessa thinks that Dante is a killer for the first part of their journey and still makes googly eyes at him, like I understand she is a girl starved for attention but still, have some standards woman. She also spends a good portion of the book throwing herself at him and making innuendos and while were supposed to guess Dante likes her back, the author didn’t effectively show this and I found it a little uncomfortable in parts. I would have liked for their relationship to progress a little slower, letting them get to know, trust and believe in one another Platonicly before any romance kicked in.
This Vicious Grace is the perfect story for those who love a fast paced YA fantasy, with plenty of world and character building. It certainly ended with a bang and I’m incredibly excited to see where the author is going to take the story in book two.