Grace and Fury – Tracy Banghart – Hodder Children’s Books – Published 26 July 2018
In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other on an island prison where women must fight to survive.
Serina has spent her whole life preparing to become a Grace – selected to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining example of the perfect woman.
But her headstrong and rebellious younger sister has a dangerous secret, and one wrong move could cost both sisters everything.
Can Serina fight? And will Nomi win?
Grace and Fury is a compelling and thought-provoking fantasy – no magic, just an invented world that feels historical and transports you to a place much like Venice – that asks, what would you do if you were a girl in a world where women had no power?
I am a huge fan of Tracy Banghart’s Rebel Wing series, so when a fellow reader recommended Grace and Fury to me I was quick to take up the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy of this thrilling and unique YA fantasy.
Tracy has a wonderful way of capturing the essence and voice of her characters, and Grace and Fury centres around Nomi and Serina – two sisters, both trapped in a world that offers women very few choices. Serina has trained all her life to become a Grace – a concubine of the King’s Heir, a position of esteem and luxury, if not power. Nomi hates everything about the world she lives in and rages against the constraints forced upon her. When she accompanied her sister to the palace as her handmaiden, Nomi knows she must hide her rebellion and her deadly secret. But when Nomi is chosen as the Heir’s Grace and Serina is sentenced to an island prison for Nomi’s crime, both girls must decide how much they will risk to survive.
Two girls, both strong in their own ways. At first it is Nomi who stands up, who seems the toughest of the two girls, while Serina prepares to hand her fate and already-limited freedom over to the Prince. Yet as Nomi struggles under her unwanted title of Grace, and as Serina learns to survive in the harsh environment of the island prison, it was Serina and her story that really captured my attention. While Nomi outwardly makes signs of rebellion, tries to plot and create allies and enemies, I found her naïve and silly. Instead, it was quiet, accepting Serina who showed the greatest strength and fortitude.
There is plenty of romantic tension in Grace and Fury, for both Nomi and Serina. While Nomi forms attachments and alliances quickly, Serina takes her time, uncertain in what she wants and how the uncertainty of her future confused that even further. Underpinning the story of two sisters and their private rebellions is a larger message of injustice. What seems like an arrangement of past eras, where women are restricted to marriage and childbirth, is made more complex as Nomi uncovers the history of her world, a history that had previously been hidden from her. Both Nomi and Serina play a role in a new uprising. The plot is perfectly poised for an explosive and revealing sequel, which I look forward to reading.
Grace and Fury ends in a bit of a cliffhanger, the twist revealed and characters’ lives hanging in the balance. The sequel is sure to be an exciting read, and I am keen to continue Serina and Nomi’s story.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Feminism, women and girls, royalty, concubines, sisters, alliances, rebellion, prison.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Sexual references, references to spending the night at the Heir’s mercy, vague threats to rape. Violence – detailed descriptions of bloodshed, murder, injury.
Published: 26 July 2018 by Hodder Children’s Books.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 320 pages.