I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede
Series: The Last Finestra #1
Published by Wednesday Books on 2022-06-28
Length: 442 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2022, 2022 New Release Challenge, COYER 2022
Emily Thiede's exciting fantasy debut, This Vicious Grace, will keep readers turning the pages until the devastating conclusion and leave them primed for more!
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?
This is my favorite read so far this year, even bumping House of Sky and Breath off the top! This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede is a high fantasy about a girl chosen by the goddess and tasked with saving her home. I absolutely loved the world-building, the desperation of impending doom that haunts every page, and the flickers of hope that flash when we need it.
Alessa was chosen by the goddess when she was 14. She is one of the strongest Finestra the island has ever seen, but that strength is also a curse. As Finestra, Alessa acts as a power amplifier, directing and controlling her Fonte’s gift. However, Alessa’s touch is deadly. She cannot control how much of the Fonte’s power she takes and as a results kills them. Now after three failed Fontes, Alessa is desperate. Her people are questioning if she is from Dea or Crollo, sent to destroy them. After an assassination attempt to bring forth a new Finestra fails, Alessa must find someone she can trust and a Fonte to save her home.
I love Alessa. She is so lonely and closed off from all around her. She cannot touch anyone for fear of killing them, and as a result she is starved for touch, desperate to find a Fonte who can withstand her, someone that can simply give her a hug. My heart was so broken for her in the beginning. Her only friend is her twin brother, who technically isn’t even supposed to acknowledge her anymore as a part of her becoming Finestra. After two failed assassination attempts, Alessa seeks out Dante, a street fighter, to be her bodyguard.
Dante *sigh* I love him too. While the story is told almost entirely from Alessa’s perspective, it is so easy to fall in love with him. He is constantly telling Alessa how untrustworthy he is, that he is cruel and unkind. Yet his actions speak louder than his words, which is why Alessa seeks him out in the first place. But there is SO much more to him than meets the eye. He sees Alessa for what she is, a girl blessed with a gift she didn’t want and cursed as a result. He offers her companionship and his own knowledge of the ancient texts may prove useful as he helps her determine a way to work with her Fontes.
This debut took me completely off-guard. Thiede’s world-building is outstanding. I love the blend of fantasy and the Italian-inspired island. She’s built an entire religion and mythology into this book. It’s immersive, beautiful, and haunting all at the same time. I found myself invested in Alessa’s fate within just a few paragraphs of the opening pages. With the Divorando–the demon horde purge from Crollo–approaching, it adds a sense of urgency to the story, conveying Alessa’s desperation to the reader. I could not sit it down!
Overall, I loved This Vicious Grace and eagerly wait its sequel. YA fantasy fans will devour this one and delight in the characters, the world, and the battles that ensue. If you are a fan of YA fantasy and enjoy a little romance with a lot of fun banter, I highly recommend it.