Billed as a novel that will appeal to fans of Riverdale, Stranger Things and The Raven Cycle, Christine Lynn Herman’s debut sets the bar high for itself in the YA market before you turn the first page. The story centres around seventeen year old Violet who, still mourning the death of her sister, finds herself displaced even further when her mother relocates the family back to their original town, the aptly named Four Paths. Like many towns with ominous sounding names Four Paths is not all that it seems, the teenage members of the town’s four founder families are all but worshipped, a courtesy that is extended to Violet when her mother reveals they are also members of a founding family, and that’s before the small revelation of the Beast that lurks within the Gray who is on a bit of a roll in the killing spree department.
The other founding families are represented by Harper, who lost a hand in the Gray thanks to her abandonment by Justin (who has failed to inherit the powers of his bloodline, a secret his overbearing mother is determined to keep), and Isaac, each of whom are locked in their own rivalries which only intensify as they compete to lure Violet into an alliance. Well drawn and diverse, the interactions between the core four are a genuine cocktail of tension, gambit and straight up entertainment, with believable dialogue and intriguing backstories, whilst the jolting POV narration helps the reader get inside the minds of its eclectic protagonists. Violet, in particular, is a noble heroine and her determination to unthread the tapestry of secrets scattered across the founding families in order to stop the Beast will have readers cheering her on from behind their sofa cushions. Plot twists, shocking revelations and a good old fashioned rising body count ensure there’s rarely a dull moment, and the narrative keeps on building o a sizeable and satisfying conclusion.
It’s not surprising that superlatives for the novel compare it heavily to YA television; you can almost hear super-producer Greg Berlanti neatly slotting in an adaptation between Riverdale and Sabrina on the CW Network. A confident and ambitious debut that lives firmly up to the hype.
THE DEVOURING GREY / AUTHOR: CHRISTINE LYNN HERMAN / PUBLISHER: DISNEY-HYPERION / RELEASE DATE: 2ND APRIL