Four Paths, New York has a problem. Deep in the woods surrounding the town, something lurks that threatens the safety of everyone. The four founding families of the town, the Carlisles, the Sullivans, the Hawthornes and the Saunderses, have kept the town safe since its birth. Now, the descendants of these founders are tasked with doing the same. When Violet Saunders moves to Four Paths where her mother grew up, she slowly begins to uncover its secrets and has to work together with the other founder kids to ensure the beast that’s locked away in The Gray can never be set free.
There’s something so incredibly nerve-wracking about picking up your most anticipated book of the year. Will I love it as much as I’d hoped? Will I hate it and look like an idiot? Maybe I’ll just put it off one more day…
I stared at it on the top of my book pile for about a week after I received it thanks to this fear. But I’m glad I finally picked it up, because The Devouring Gray is absolutely my favorite book of this year so far.
I know people say not to romanticize the Small Town Life™ for a variety of reasons, but man oh man, it’s fun to read about! Towns where everyone knows everyone makes for some serious tension, and the chances of betrayal and shock are that much higher. Towns like Four Paths, though, surrounded by watching trees and darkness brimming with secrets, are even more fun to read about. I loved the creepy atmosphere of it all, the sense that you’re surrounded at all times.
Just a little fun side note, my boyfriend video-called me while he was coming down from his hike up a mountain, and it happened to be Blue Hour. Even though it’s technically supposed to be devoid of color, as soon as the video loaded I blurted out “You look like you’re in The Gray!” and bless his soul, even though he hasn’t read the book (yet) he replied “I feel like I’m in The Gray.” Little moments like that just made the book even more fun to read.
I would die for all of them.
I loved learning the backstories of each of the founding family kids and finding out their relationships with each other. The way they navigate may be a bit messy at times, but they’re teenagers tasked with something big, so what can you expect? I think even at my own age now I’d have a hard time keeping it all together. I wanted to learn more about them all and I’m beyond ready for the sequel!! ALSO? The bisexual rep? Amazing. I remember joking with someone that apparently everyone in this book is bisexual but it’s not even that much of an exaggeration. I also screamed to my boyfriend about this because it made me so ridiculously happy, and if I wasn’t scared of spoiling some things I’d post the screenshots here so the extent of my happiness could be on full display.
They’re also all dealing with trauma in some way and it’s incredible to watch. Each of these kids has gone through some horrific things, and seeing them try to work through it is both rewarding and painful. Harper in particular really stood out to me with my own personal struggles. She’s trying so hard to prove herself and become stronger and I felt so connected to her in ways I didn’t think I would.
I also want to quickly note that I love whenever the author described a character as white. So many books assume this as the default and it’s only when a character is pointed out to be something else that you’re made aware of it. While I think it’s good to explicitly state a character’s background, not doing it for the white characters, or only describing them as “pale” instead of actively identifying their whiteness the way we do for Blackness or Asianness or Hispanicness, continues to enforce white characters as the default or the “assumption”. I was really happy to see Christine had taken the time to do this in her book; I saw someone calling it “fake woke” because the author herself is white, but I don’t really think it’s fair to demand progression and then shoot it down when it happens for no good reason.
In conclusion, these characters have my whole heart, thanks.
Not only was this mysterious location interesting and creepy, but it felt even more personal the more we got to interact with it. The more I read, the more I realized: The Gray has such close parallels to depression. Not only is there no color, but the Beast that inhabits it gets right into your head and plays at your worst fears and insecurities. It demeans you, tells you you’re worthless, tells you you’re not good enough. Honestly, I have even more respect for the founder kids for enduring something like that and coming out of it not unscathed, but still prepared to keep fighting.
Hype for this book started with comparisons to The Raven Boys, Stranger Things, and Riverdale. So do they match up at all? Well… sort of? I can definitely see elements of The Raven Boys in the characters and their relationships with one another. The Riverdale vibes mostly stem from the UK cover to me, and also those small-town-mystery vibes. Stranger Things definitely lends some qualities to this book through the beast in another “realm” sort of place. Overall, if you like any of those things, I think you’d like these. Just remember to take the comp titles with a grain of salt!
Basically, The Devouring Gray is now one of my favorite books of all time and I can’t wait for the sequel. I love where the story is going so far, I love learning more about the Gray and the past, and the ending had me gasping and praying there were some pages I’d missed. I also had to buy it for my friend Ash because I had a feeling she’d also connect to the characters and besides, she’s graduating high school! (That has nothing to do with the book, I just needed to be proud for a hot sec). My most anticipated read of the year did not disappoint!
Obviously I had to bring it with me to the forest~
What was your most anticipated book of this year, and have you read it yet? How did you feel about it?