The Graces by Laure Eve (Allen and Unwin) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN 9780571326808
Reviewed by Daniela Andrews
‘Wouldn’t you ever be tempted?’
‘… Black magic?’ he teased. ‘Nah … Those kinds of things always have consequences …’
When lonely River moves to a new town mid-term, she forms an obsession with the three Grace siblings – the twins, Thalia and Fenrin, and their younger sister, Summer. Everybody says they are witches. There are those that keep well away from them, and those that follow them like puppy dogs. River wants more than their attention – she wants to become one of them. She is living with a dark secret that she believes magic can fix. She’s also attracted to Fenrin. She forms a close friendship with Summer, hoping to learn all she can from the Graces, despite the warning she’s given by social outcast, Marcus: ‘when you do something they don’t like, your life is going to go very wrong’.
The novel is described by the publisher as a cross between The Craft (movie) and The Secret History (Donna Tartt). Readers will also draw comparisons between Stephenie Meyer’s Cullen family (Twilight) and the Grace family. The Graces is slow-paced in terms of action, but it builds up to a dark and gripping climax with an inevitable plot twist. Its constant sense of foreboding makes the book hard to put down. The protagonist, River, is very secretive – not just with the other characters in the book but also with the reader, who might therefore find it hard to form a connection with her. She is not always likeable. I don’t believe she is supposed to be. The author challenges us to decide for ourselves where our alliances lie: will we also fall under the spell of the Graces? (I love the hidden message on the spine of the book!)
Other than witchcraft, the book also covers themes of broken friendships, broken families, bullying and unrequited love. It will appeal to readers aged 12 – 16 years. The author, Laure Eve, has previously written two fantasy novels. She concludes The Graces with much remaining mystery around the parents, Esther and Gwydion, and also takes the story in a new direction. Fortunately, she also leaves us with a promise for a sequel in September 2017.