Series: The Last Finestra #1
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 Vicious Grace comes out June 28, 2022**
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
It’s no wonder This Vicious Grace is one of the most highly anticipated books of the year. A remarkable fantasy that follows a lonely heroine who seems to kill everyone with her touch, this tale is one meant to be savoured.
If you’ve read the synopsis, the plot itself isn’t all that dramatic or complex. The end of the world is coming (again, kind of) and a new heroine called the Finestra – apparently it means literally “window”? – has risen to once again fight off a horde of demons in the shape of giant beetles. Oh, and this is because the gods are feuding and one believes mankind is worth saving but only if they prove themselves in such battles.
Seems familiar enough right? It’s The Chosen One archetype who saves the world. Or at least, has the weight of the world on her shoulders. What makes this more exciting then?
Personally, I admire Thiede’s writing as this is her debut. Lush and filled with quotes I wanted to highlight, it truly drew me into the world and the story. What made it more outstanding, though, is the characterization of our protagonist, Alessa.
For the most part, this book is stuck with Alessa. She’s isolated with very few interactions as, well, her touch clearly kills people. Right off the bat, we’re introduced to her at a funeral of her third dead partner (in the battle sense but still) and helplessness is an understatement here. The progression she makes from this frustrated and guilt-ridden girl who carried the weight of the people on her island to someone who believed in herself and her ability to fight for them was truly the highlight. It’s why I love YA because there’s nothing quite like it elsewhere in literature that does this characterization as well.
But of course, what’s equally great – if not even better – about this book is the wonderful love interest. Ah, Dante. Can we just take a moment and admire how wonderfully crafted he was? I think I need a fan.
Everyone wants the brooding bad boy with a soft, gooey heart deep, deep inside as the love interest. Well, I’m happy to say he fits that bill perfectly. Dante reluctantly gets dragged into protecting Alessa as he has no agendas about her role as saviour for their island. He had his own troubles to deal with to care. While he fits the stereotype we all want to read about in a love interest, I liked that he still had surprises in him. Like his penchant for proverbs, including the really obscure ones. Go figure. He has the brawn and the brains.
Often I find in books that the authors want us to believe in the love that forms in their characters simply by telling us they feel these things. But there’s not enough substance to really believe it as the reader who hasn’t spent much time around these characters and is limited to what we see on the page.
This is so far from that and I’m so happy to say I felt the love grow between Alessa and Dante. This tale may focus on self-growth and learning to love yourself even when all the other voices tell you how you’ve messed up, but it’s also a ridiculously beautiful love story between two people who are quite different on the surface but perhaps are the two loneliest people who really needed one another. Isn’t that already so exciting to see on its own to drive you to pick this book up?
I wanted to give this book full rating for most of my read through. Without giving anything away, I will say the climax was a little disappointing to me. It built up so much throughout as Alessa prepared to face the battle she knows is coming, but I guess the resolution felt a little too predictable and neatly wrapped. I kept wondering how there would be a book two but it does leave us with threads for what’s to come.
Perhaps I’m just being picky. This book really was a fun dive into the world of Saverio and I can’t wait to see where we go next from here.
This Vicious Grace showcases the way to go for an astounding fantasy that doesn’t require a super complex world or plot yet still packs a mean punch to the heart. If you love the bodyguard romance, go no further because Dante is set to steal your heart from all the rest with his stoic and brooding exterior that hides a heart of gold. The Chosen One archetype is strong in this one but it carries enough differences to give the oomph factor that is uniquely its own. Emily Thiede’s debut was unputdownable and you should grab it when it comes out.