Monday, August 29, 2022

#Review - This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede #YA #Fantasy #Romance

Series: The Last Finestra (#1)
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Release Date: June 28, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Romance

Serpent & Dove meets The Bodyguard in this romantic, thrilling debut fantasy where one girl's magic can save - or it can kill.

Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa’s gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner’s magic, not kill every suitor she touches.

Now, with only weeks left until a hungry swarm of demons devours everything on her island home, Alessa is running out of time to find a partner and stop the invasion. When a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island’s only hope, her own soldiers try to assassinate her.

Desperate to survive, Alessa hires Dante, a cynical outcast marked as a killer, to become her personal bodyguard. But as rebellion explodes outside the gates, Dante’s dark secrets may be the biggest betrayal. He holds the key to her survival and her heart, but is he the one person who can help her master her gift or destroy her once and for all?

Emily Thiede's exciting fantasy debut, This Vicious Grace, will keep readers turning the pages until the devastating conclusion and leave them primed for more!

This Vicious Grace is the first installment in author Emily Thiede's The Last Finestra series and her fantasy debut. This is an Italian inspired story which you will quickly discover as each chapter has a different Italian quote. 18-year old Alessandra (Alessa) Paladino, the Chosen Finestra of Saverio, is blessed with a gift from a goddess named Dea in order to save the world from a demon invasion sent by an opposing god. Crollo will lead a horde of demons to attack her island on the day of Divorando. Alessa isn't supposed to touch anyone but her chosen Fonte. 

Fonte's are blessed at birth with defensive magic like fire, wind, water, earth, and electrical. Fonte's are respected and revered and considered to be a precious resource. Their families receive a generous annual stipend and protection. Alessa's magic allows her to amplify a Fonte's gift. Over the last 5 years, Alessa has found a Fonte, and lost them. There have been 3 weddings, and 3 funerals, and if Alessa can't find a Fonte she can't kill, it is likely Savero will fall. Knowing their time is coming to an end, a priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island's only hope of survival after she kills three partners. 

Alone and isolated by the Consiglio, without companionable or loving touch, our heroine is expected to fulfill her role as Finestra and save her people and island. When her life is endangered, Alessa realizes she can’t even trust the guards sworn to protect her. Between a rock and a hard place, she makes a rash decision and hires a big, strong man named Dante whom she'd seen fight in a local tavern. Dante is a marked killer who Alessa hires as her bodyguard from the priest's faithful subjects until she can control her powers and choose a partner. 

With his help over time, she works to master her gift and gains the trust of other Fonte. But Dante also has a secret that if exposed, could ruin everything and leave Alessa's home vulnerable to attack. Alessa and Dante help each other become the best versions of themselves. She learns to stand up for herself and love herself, and she teaches him what it feels like to be loved and accepted. With time running quickly, Alessa decides to gather all of the potential Fonte's and work with each to try and determine who is best suited to help her. Now she just has to choose a Fonte, kill the demons, and hope that nobody discovers the truth about Dante. 

Alessa is a character who is easy to like. She begins as an unsure, confused girl who only knew the rules that had been forced on her. She felt restricted and alone because she desired family, and to be touched and loved. As she grows, she became more independent, more confident, and much more entertaining. I am impressed that I remember enough Italian to enjoy the headings of each of the books chapters. I miss speaking Italian with my grandparents, and I miss Italy where I was stationed for a year in Naples in the 1980's.

The book does end on a cliffhanger. Ergo, if things are good in 2023, I will seek out the sequel to see what happens next with Alessa and Dante and the other Fonte's. 

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