On 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 neighbours 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?
Copy gifted by Titan Books.
The Devouring Gray follows a group of teenagers living in the town of Four Paths, a rural New York town full of secrets and suspicion. Violet moves there shortly after the death of her sister, and discovers that before her mother moved away from Four Paths, she was part of the elite group of founder families in the town. After meeting Justin, May, Isaac and Harper, also from founder families, she begins to learn more about the pull of Four Paths and what is now expected of her. The Devouring Gray manages to find balance between being a horror story but also having a contemporary YA feel, dealing with relatable issues used in this genre such as grief, loss and general high school dramas. However, these high school teens also have to fight a monster in their spare time.
The Devouring Gray captures a small town mindset perfectly, and it’s honestly the best setting for a story like this. Alongside the magic and horror embedded in the town are the politics, and I loved how all three of them are entwined. It’s a beautifully atmospheric book and the world building was perfect – having heard Christine speak at an event earlier this year, I learned that Four Paths was inspired by where Christine herself grew up, and after feeling the need to leave her home for the city, found herself writing about it instead. I think that the emotion behind the place really comes through here and you can feel the almost oppressive way that Four Paths presses on the characters.
Of the different characters, I definitely felt the most connected to Violet and Harper. Violet is introduced to us in the depths of grief after losing her sister, and watching her grow from this rather than feel the need to get over it and cast it aside was the most perfect character development for her. Harper is seen by many in the town as an outcast, but despite this, she’s so resilient and definitely not as bitter as the persona she’s had to hide under since her encounter with the Gray.
A plot point which I loved was the use of the deck of omens, a tarot inspired deck which the author created from scratch herself and became a major part of the story. The cards are closely linked to the founding families, especially the Hawthorne family who are responsible for using and taking care of the cards. I’m excited to find out more about the deck of omens in the sequel (which is named after the deck) as we only got a small insight into it in TDG.
Definitely recommended for fans of Sawkill Girls, The Raven Cycle, Stranger Things and Buffy.