This Vicious Grace – 5 Star Review

“Together, we protect. Divided, we unravel.” 

Emily Thiede
**Releases June 28, 2022**

This Vicious Grace is a YA romantic fantasy that centers on Alessa, chosen by the goddess Dea to protect her island home from an impending demon invasion. Alessa’s power as Finestra is meant to amplify the power of a chosen Fonte–a user of elemental magic, who is to be her partner in all things while fighting the demon horde. The island of Saverio has a long history of the Finestra and Fonte fighting and defeating the demons, beetle-like monsters called scarabeo, when they come every certain number of years. There’s only one problem with Alessa being Finestra: she keeps killing her chosen Fontes. It’s happened three times now, and she’s running out of time and options before the demons come. 

Because of her failures so far as Finestra, a zealous religious sect wants Alessa dead and they almost succeed in killing her. So she hires the mysterious Dante to be her bodyguard to buy her time to figure out her powers and keep herself (and a Fonte) alive long enough to save the island. 

I want to start off by saying I really, really enjoyed this book. It checked all the boxes of things I like in a romantic fantasy. It has an interesting world and magic system, lush descriptions, strong characters that have great development, an interesting plot, found family, and a delicious slow burn romance that has tons and tons of witty banter. 

I can’t stress enough how delightful the banter is. If there’s one thing this author does well (and she honestly does many things well), it’s the banter. I found myself genuinely smiling and laughing throughout the book. Alessa is quick-witted and sassy, and the people who come to surround her are as well. There are so many funny one liners in this book that my Kindle is absolutely full of highlights from the whole book. Another plus is that the banter isn’t only between the romantic leads, it’s between almost every character. 

The characters, character development, and relationships were all really strong in this book. The book thrives in its themes of loneliness, isolation, and found family. It emphasizes the importance of human connection, connecting with each other, empathy, and mercy. The characters show these themes in really strong and believable ways. 

Another thing I really loved from this book was the worldbuilding. Sure, the terms and timelines were hard to grasp at first, but that’s to be expected of any new fantasy book. Things were repeated often enough for the reader to grasp them but not so often as to be annoyingly repetitive. I also enjoyed how the world building very directly ties into the plot. Alessa is Finestra and demons will be coming at some point very soon to try and harm her island home. Suspense is created just from the way the world works in this book, which makes the plot even more enjoyable. 

And, of course, there’s the romance in the book. Dante is mysterious, grumpy, and a talented fighter. He challenges Alessa to fight for herself, and she challenges him to open up and be kind to others. I loved how much they teased each other back and forth. And their relationship felt really solid, too. It isn’t an instalove story, but instead is a slow burn where they really get to know and trust each other before they fall in love. 

The things I didn’t like in this book are small and nitpicky because it is, overall, a really great read. I’ll mention them, though, so that readers know what to expect. For one thing, the pacing in the book is off sometimes with jarring time jumps or characters who are suddenly friends after very few interactions. Another thing that took me out of the story are the very random mentions of things that seem to suggest that the world in this book is a set in the very, very far future. Alessa mentions light bulbs at one point and says that they have blown out, but that they “lack the materials the ancients had” in order to replace them. I think these mentions should, in all honesty, be cut as they don’t really make sense. There is plenty of worldbuilding already without them. 

The battle at the end also seemed to be over very quickly, but since there is going to be a sequel to the book it makes sense. The plot is building towards something that is, hopefully, even bigger. 

All in all, I really loved this book! I was savoring it as much as I could, even though every time I sat down to read I ended up reading big chunks. If you like strong but emotional heroines, slow burn romance, banter of any and all kinds, lush worldbuilding, swift plots, found family, or YA romantic fantasy in general, you want this book. Definitely be on the lookout for it when it releases this June! 

Reviewed by Shelby

*I received a free electronic copy of this book from NetGalley 
*Review also posted to Goodreads and NetGalley

Leave a Reply