The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman: A Highly Atmospheric Book About a Mysterious Small Town

3.5 stars

After her older sister’s death, Violet Saunders and her mother moves back to Four Paths, her mother’s hometown. Four Paths is a small town, and filled with more secrets than Violet is ready for.

Soon she’s embedded into understanding how the town works—with its mysterious monster, the Gray, hunting and killing innocents, and the four founding families, which she is apparently a descendant of. Luckily, Violet has the other Founder’s kids to help her—Harper and Isaac and Justin.

But as more secrets are revealed as well as Violet’s own powers, she begins to doubt whether she can trust her new friends, especially with the growing tensions in Four Paths

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a quick doodle I did inspired by The Devouring Gray!

When I picked up this book, I realized that I actually had very little idea of what it was about.

I had some general vibes: dark, spooky atmosphere, a beast haunting a town—but besides that, it was largely unknown to me.

And so, I read it. And I feel like The Devouring Gray just wasn’t the perfect book for me, although a lot of other people will like it.

I think it is well written, and it’s got a compelling storyline. I just ended up not being in the right mood for this book, and unfortunately that translated into my enjoyment of it.

However, if you like spooky, atmosphere novels with occult-like magic, you should 100% check The Devouring Gray out.

The atmosphere was really distinct.

This was probably the most interesting part of The Devouring Gray, but the atmosphere was so rich and heavy and almost tangible with the way that the woods established a spooky dominance.

Woods themselves are such complex symbols, and I love the way Herman used the woods in coordination with this monster, the Gray, to really build the atmosphere. When I think of The Devouring Gray, I will always think of fog and woods and dark spooky forests and kind of weird small towns that are closer than you think.

I definitely would love to visit Four Paths, but only for a little while, because I don’t think I’d be able to handle that type of spookiness and thick, heavy atmosphere in town for long.

If you’re super into these types of woodsy atmospheres, I would wholeheartedly recommend you check out The Devouring Gray!

It had a super cool concept!

The town of Four Paths has such an interesting history, and I actually was really invested into seeing how things would play out. This was my favorite plot element, as the four founders play a really interesting role in town, and seeing how their descendants have a sort of responsibility on their shoulder and the way the founder dynamic has evolved really intrigued me.

This is the sort of power play and interesting dynamics that made this story still a positive experience for me (rather than a neutral one), and I think if I was in a better mood (one that was really looking for a spooky atmosphere), I would have enjoyed this story even more.

But the power plays between the different founding families, as well as the interactions with their offspring and the people in town, were really interesting to me and this comes into play a little more as the book progresses, so if you’re not super into it initially, it might still be worth it to stick with it to get to see this part unfold!

I just wasn’t as into the story as I wanted to be.

Ultimately, I just wasn’t as in the mood for The Devouring Gray as I thought I was.

I definitely read the last half very quickly, but the first part moved a little slower than I liked, and because I wasn’t being fueled by the atmosphere, I was sort of waiting for the pieces and breadcrumbs Herman was lying around to finally start coming together.

I think, in the right circumstances, I could have given The Devouring Gray a much higher rating, but ultimately I just wasn’t ready for this book.

However, if it sounds really interesting to you, you should definitely give it a shot!

Still, Herman is a fantastic writer and The Devouring Gray is quite well written, and chock-full of a foggy forest atmosphere that will suck a lot of readers in.

If you’re intrigued by small town politics (feat. magic powers) and really strong atmospheres, I would wholeheartedly recommend The Devouring Gray!

(Also, more than one MC is queer *wink wink*.)

Thank you so much to Disney Books and Netgalley for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!

Favorite spooky and atmospheric reads?

P.S. I included The Devouring Gray and other atmospheric reads on this recommendation post, if you happen to be in search of more cool books like this!

4 thoughts on “The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman: A Highly Atmospheric Book About a Mysterious Small Town

  1. i feel pretty much the same to be perfectly honest. i gave it a 1 star because…even though technically it was a good book, my enjoyment for this book was not there AT ALL. i was anticipating this so much and i just…found no happiness in it. i didn’t care for any of the characters or the plot soooo??? it’s like the book objectively was good i just didn’t connect with it at all. and i love messed up witchy atmospheric books but i just didn’t get any of that from this book? IDK.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ooooh yes! and yeah, I try to balance the book’s quality and my enjoyment, but if I did it off of enjoyment, it might be a little lower. sorry you didn’t enjoy this & connect–it’s always disappointing when the click isn’t there :///

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your sketch was so cute! I feel like I may not pick up The Devouring Gray right away then. I’ll probably wait until the weather is chilly to put me in the right mood to enjoy the atmosphere. I really liked The Wicked Deep, by Shea Earnshaw, and though the setting is quite different, I do remember enjoying the atmosphere a lot because I read it in late winter, so I think it may be better to wait to the right time and hopefully, I’ll really enjoy it. Great review, Vicky!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. awww, thank you! and omg definitely read it in October/November! that would be a perfect season for it and yessss The Wicked Deep is ICONIC and I think if you liked that, you’ll probably enjoy this! (but timing is key, sometimes!)

      Liked by 1 person

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