This week’s train read/commute book has really stollen my heart…
In the week of my one year anniversary of moving to London it was so lovely to wrap myself up in a book that reminded me of my roots, even the slightly odd and alternative ones 😉
Title: The Graces
Author: Laure Eve
‘Everyone said the Graces were witches.
They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.
They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.
All I had to do was show them that person was me.’
Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?
This is another novel I decided to read after attending Victoria Aveyard’s event at Waterstones Piccadilly (read about it here). Laure Eve was one of the authors that appeared alongside Victoria, and the more she talked about her own book the more I realised just how much it was up my street. I was NOT disappointed!!
The Graces is about a mysterious family from the small town that the protagonist, River, has just moved to. This simple statement immediately presents some intriguing plot points that drive the book; River is not her real name – we never find out what her real name actually is, only that she feels more comfortable and more herself being known as River. As well as her name being mysterious it’s also unclear where the small town she has just moved to actually is, nor do we know why she has moved there until the final thirty pages or so. The town has a lot of Americanisms in the feel of the high school but it also screams of the kind of small town I grew up in. I’m from Devon and the feel of home is dripping from every page, which makes a lot of sense considering Laure grew up in Cornwall. As much as both sides of the border hate to admit we are certainly very similar in our intriguing ways, especially when is concerns our mythology and our varied histories.
The further into the novel you get the more you realise that River is just as mysterious as the titular family. You suddenly realise that you have learnt far more about the Grace siblings and their odd parents than you have about River, which is very odd considering not only does the novel follow her but she is the narrator. I absolutely loved this. It’s so much harder to piece things together when you have an unreliable narrator and Laure manages to keep us guessing right up until the final few pages. Her writing style firmly evokes that moment of utter panic when you think there can’t possibly be enough pages to answer all the questions left behind, but Laure reveals just enough to satisfy us whilst leaving us with plenty to hunger for by way of a sequel.
The world The Graces is set in is utterly beautiful. I said earlier that it felt like home and it really did. Only people from small towns can truly capture just how intense it is to live like that. It’s very difficult to find out who you are when everyone knows your business and they’re all watching you intently. It was so easy to empathise with River struggling in that somewhat toxic environment. Also, anyone from a small Westcountry town will tell you that there is always that one family that is the cause of gossiping and whispering about one thing or another. The whispers aren’t necessarily about witches and magic but it’ll be about something strange and alternative.
The magic and witching systems used in the story are also wonderful. It definitely had the feel of ‘Matilda magic.’ You know, the kind of magic that even the skeptical or the weakest of believers could come to think possible. The kind of magic that you think in your heart could really be possible if you only believed hard enough. There are definite hints of Wicca and Paganism woven into the plot which is lovely to explore. I think everyone secretly has a fascination with these kind of beliefs because you can find a way to rationalise and believe in them and that’s certainly the case in the South West where these religions have roots and communities of followers. I love it and, like I’ve said, it feels like home and that’s always nice to find in fiction.
Now here’s the bit that all bloggers and bookstagramers have been losing their minds over;
THE TWIST AT THE END…
THE TWIST AT THE END..!
THE TWIST AT THE END!!
I’d like to take a moment to congratulate Laure on the best “WTF..! actually how the hell did I not see that, how shitting clever was THAT..??!!!” moment of my summer. You should all know by now that I really love a twist, especially one that I can’t predict, one that makes me react audibly in public. This one was especially nice. Not only did it deliver shock value but it delivered a beautiful message of self belief, and that we may try our hardest to be someone or something we’re not but really everything we could ever want or need is actually lurking beneath the surface. We just need to find a way to unlock it.
Oh and bonus point for my favourite last line of a novel, possibly ever. Except of course the one I have tattooed onto my arm 😂
I feel like I’ve spent this review spouting endless streams of praise but this book has wormed its way into my heart and maybe, just like River and the rest of her town, I’m more than a little bit obsessed with The Graces.