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THE DEVOURING GREY **

Written by Christine Lynn Herman. RRP £8.99 400 pages.

Out April 16th from Titan Books.

 

Recovering from the death of her sister, teenager Violet Saunders finds herself uprooted to the small town of Four Paths where she finds herself embroiled in a plot involving not only her own family history but also the history of the town. To add to this, there is also the matter of an interdimensional creature that lurks in the woods surrounding the town preying on its inhabitants. Protecting them are the descendants of the town’s founders, referred to as The Founders, with special powers ranging from fortune telling to controlling stone creatures of their own creation.

 

This being a young adult novel there are also numerous sub-plots featuring crushes and clueless controlling adult figures to go with the supernatural and super-powered hi-jinks. Over its 400 pages, however, the plot trips over itself as it loses track of its various mysteries. Revelations come several chapters after a reader can correctly assume what is going on and figure out where the plot will lead to the next chapter. Aside from the titular Gray here, the only other shades are black and white. Villainous characters are precisely that, and the heroes only real flaws are they care too much.

 

For some reason, Herman goes to great pains to mention what seems like every second characters bisexuality. Why this matters, apart from one slight instance, is never explained and has no bearing on the text or subtext of the story.

 

The author introduces some aspects of intrigue that keep the reader turning the pages with secret agendas between resentful families that carry more weight than the main genre inflected storylines. The teen rebellion angle manages to make some interesting asides at adulthood examining the parents as teenagers and how they have slowly morphed into entirely different people with different needs. This, however, is buried under a mass of often confusing prose and on the nose dialogue that comes across as screamingly obvious and expository.

 

To entice curious readers, pull quotes on the back cover compare the story to Stranger Things. Even Pet Sematary is evoked with the inclusion of a resurrected cat, but for regular readers of this site, there is really not a lot to recommend. For fans of such shows as Riverdale and The Vampire Diaries, it could prove an easy-going read, but with its lack of originality, cliché driven plot and characters, it fails to compare to the standard bearers of young adult genre fiction that manage to entertain and grip the imaginations of readers young and old.

 

Iain MacLeod

 

 

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