Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

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“For every woman who has been told to sit down and be quiet…and has stood up anyway.”

Yes this quote is from the dedication, but it really sums up what this book is all about in 18 words. This was one of my top anticipated releases for July because we all know that I love strong female characters and political intrigue, but unfortunately this book missed the mark for me.

Grace and Fury is young adult fantasy told in the alternating perspectives of two sisters: Serina and Nomi from Lanos.

➡️ Serina is 19, classically beautiful, trained in dancing, music lessons, etiquette; think aristocracy leading up to a girl’s debut to society kind of training. She has been told all her life that the way to help her family is to become a Grace for the Heir.
➡️ Nomi is 17 and has been trained to essentially her her family’s maid. Because she doesn’t share her sister’s good looks, she was raised to become her sister’s Handmaiden. She has a fiery temper, a love of reading that is forbidden in Viridia, and all she wants is freedom from the oppression women are subjected to.

We are introduced to them during the announcement of the town’s candidate for Grace consideration, and they embark on a journey on a journey that one sees as a choice and the other sees as a sentence.

“Nothing should be beyond our reach. That’s my whole point.”

I wish that the book had opened up with more of home life for Serina and her family in Lanos, what it means to be a Grace, and the selection process to send candidates because I had trouble connecting with Serina and the story. I think this would have provided more background on the world and would likely have built the characters up a bit, because I feel like other than the feminism dialog between Serina and Nomi there isn’t much else there about them.

“A yes doesn’t mean the same thing when it’s the only answer you’re allowed.”

This is a fast paced read, but I had a lot of questions about the world! It isn’t a secret that I love reading fantasy because I enjoy being brought into new and fantastical worlds; worldbuilding is a crucial component for my enjoyment, and I wanted a lot more about Viridia. It was halfway through the book before we learned more about the history of Viridia, but I think that revelation would have been more impactful had we known more about the world previously. Things started to pick up for me around this point and the whole ‘who do I trust’ aspect was interesting, if not easily guessed for me.

The messages of this book – feminism, oppression, choice – are important ones, but I found the execution lacking. Instead of being told about oppression through thoughts and dialog, I wanted to be shown examples through storytelling and the biases of the characters. To the author’s credit, I think that Banghart tried to do this with Serina’s character arc; however, the narration style of telling rather than showing missed the mark for me.

I really wanted to love this book of strong women fighting for themselves and a better tomorrow, but for me it fell short. This felt like a book about feminism and oppression… and everything hinges on that. Unfortunately this results in heavy handed feminist narrative with one dimensional characters in a story that is likely meant to be character driven and worldbuilding that left me wanting much more than provided. As this is intended to be a duology, it is possible that things could be expanded on in the next installment, and HOW DO YOU END A BOOK LIKE THIS. I think in the right hands this book will be coveted, and you can see Vicky’s glowing review here for a differing opinion on this book. 😊

★★★

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher, Little Young Books, for giving me an advance electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Quotations were taken from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publication. You can find information about my rating criteria here


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21 thoughts on “Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

    • Kaleena @ Reader Voracious says:

      Thank you, Destiny! This book does seem to be a bit polarizing (kind of on the same scale of Furyborn); the reviews I have seen were either along the same lines of mine or glowing. It definitely is a fast read, I hope you enjoy it more than I did!

      Like

      • Destiny @ Howling Libraries says:

        Haha yes, I was just thinking that! I just saw another review for it and they gave it 5 stars and I thought it was funny, I’ve only seen 3-star and 5-star reviews – nothing else! At least I haven’t seen any 1-star reviews yet – that’s a good sign, right? 😛

        Liked by 1 person

    • Laura Carruthers says:

      “For every woman who has been told to sit down and be quiet…and has stood up anyway.”

      Well, I’m standing up against Tracy and her PR. I have difficulty believing Tracy and her team didn’t do a title search before they released her little gem…Check out https:/www.LauraCarruthers.com or GraceFury.com or facebook.com/voicewithlegs. My work has been described and was released to the press, including HuffPost and film festivals well before Tracy’s book came out.

      But my ‘Grace Fury’ speaks to my actual life experience and diversified skills (scripting, producing, directing, choreographing, performing, musical arranging/composing, editing, and building graphics) in a world that fights/ignores capable women…”Grace Fury” is the brainchild of my ‘fire & grace’ which was created decades ago – a brand that I have maintained all along.

      I have used the alias “Grace Fury” and a bright yellow flower icon to speak on behalf of women’s issues (mostly on Huffington Post) for over six years. I also see they are using a flaming yellow flower for one of their covers…Hmmmm.

      What good is all the mere word on women’s rights – without ethic? The whole fundamental premise behind “women’s rights” is based on a *civil* ethic…But, if women are ever so willing to use all the same, shady tactics to trample on the longstanding and emerging enterprises of other women without a care, what do they really offer, other than an ever-growing jungle, thick with even more thieves? They only do more to hurt the community and/or give us good reason to doubt it and divide.

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  1. Tammy says:

    I’ve been seeing mixed reviews so yours doesn’t surprise me too much. I love feminist stories but I’m particular about how they’re written so I’m not sure if this would work for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kaleena @ Reader Voracious says:

      I love feminist stories with strong female characters, but this one just missed the mark for me in the storytelling. I have also seen some glowing reviews recently so I know not everyone shares my opinion, but I think we share similar taste in this regard so your inkling may be correct. Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  2. (Danielle) Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    Your review is favoring the opinion of several others I have read as well. So there definitely seems to be some issue with execution or something lacking. The biggest complaint I keep encountering is that readers failed to connect with one character or another. Though I imagine the gast past makes it easy! Wonderful review as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vicky Who Reads says:

    Ack! I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this as much as I did! I really enjoyed reading, but I definitely see how this isn’t for everyone. For a feminist fantasy, it’s better with gender roles in comparison to a lot of fantasy novels in general, but I also admit that it could have been a lot better as the genre of feminist/female-empowering fantasies grow!

    Great review, Kaleena!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kaleena @ Reader Voracious says:

      Thank you, Vicky! It definitely is a good book with a lot of promise, I just definitely was hoping for more action in terms of the oppression instead of being told about it anecdotally. The more I think about it though the more I realize I was kind of sold by the end of the book and I think I probably will read the second book when it comes out. I need to know what happens!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Marie says:

    Lovely review! I’m so sorry to hear this one kind of missed the mark for you – it is one of my most anticipated reads and I’m very impatient to read it, hopefully I’ll enjoy the storytelling a bit better than you did 🙂 thank you for sharing! 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

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