This book blew my mind.
The Grace Year by Kate Ligget (published by St. Martin’s Press) is a dystopian horror that seemed to me like a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and Lord of the Flies. In a society where women are oppressed and controlled and believed to possess magic, every girl must undergo the “grace year” when they reach a certain age. The Grace Year is a year the girls must spend in the wilderness in order to “rid themselves of magic” and return to be humbled wives. But in the wilderness there are so many dangers. Poachers wait to skin the girls alive. Vengeful ghosts may be around the trees. And the worst danger of all, is themselves.
There were so many moods and twists to this book. I was enthralled by the grace year time but I also would’ve loved to see more of the society and the little rebellions some of the women do. But in a way, the grace year was important, because it helped the main character, Tierney, recognize her worth and the worth of fellow women. It really spread the message of women supporting women in the end and I really liked that.
Another important message was that of self-forgiveness, which was a powerful lesson for the girls.
The society used the language of flowers and throughout the book such symbolism was strong and powerful. It helped portray the mood of the scenes, got across the theme, and taught important morals—like the self-forgiveness one.
This book is VERY violent. It’s not for the faint of heart, and right now I’m putting here trigger warnings: violence, death/murder, sexism, forced marriages, torture, religious trauma. I don’t mind the violence but some people will.
There was a romance in the book that while I enjoyed it, I think it, in a way, distracted from the main themes of the book.
This book did include one of my least favorite tropes but in the end, it still left a powerful message as well as room for interpretation. I’m excited to talk with my friends I buddy read this with and hear their thoughts. Overall, I gave it four stars.