Two sisters test the bounds of their personal hells in an oppressive monarchy.
In a world where factory work, servitude, and marriage are women’s only other options, Serina hopes desperately to be selected as a Grace, an attendant to the Heir and a model of submissive womanhood. But Serina’s unruly younger sister, Nomi, while serving as her handmaiden, accidentally sets off a series of events that results in the girls’ being cruelly separated and faced with challenges they are each particularly ill-equipped to handle. What follows, unfolding in split plotlines from each sister’s perspective, is an entertaining, if predictable, riff on some of youth literature’s most popular trends. From palace intrigue and requisite love triangles to dystopian survival challenges and gruesome death matches, Grace and Fury has it covered. A nod at diversity feels gratuitous. Nomi notes, “The Superior didn’t seem to have a specific standard of beauty: Some Graces had dark skin, others ghostly white,” but all of the primary characters read as white. The girls’ ruminations on sisterly womanhood, while welcome enough, are a bit pat; unsurprisingly, Serina and Nomi must join forces with other women to effect change. And, of course, there’s the ending that isn’t—readers should know that resolution will be withheld over at least one more installment.
Fine fodder for fans of the genre but look elsewhere for something fresh. (Fantasy. 12-16)