Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Review: This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede

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


Series: The Last Finestra #1
Publication date: June 29, 2022
Published by: Wednesday Books
Genre: YA fantasy

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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! 

Purchase your copy now!
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Praise for This Vicious Grace:

Goodreads, "The 68 Most Anticipated YA Novels of 2022"

Nerd Daily, " Upcoming YA Book Releases to Add to Your TBR" and "24 Debut Releases To Get Your Hands On In 2022"

"This book is incredible! The banter, the romance, the tension! I couldn't get enough!" - Lauren Blackwood, New York Times bestselling author of Within These Wicked Walls

"Filled with witty banter, unlikely friendships, a swoon-worthy romance, and high stakes tension, Emily Thiede creates an immersive fantasy world inspired by the sun-drenched Amalfi coast that will captivate readers until the very last page. Sure to be a favourite for fans of Stephanie Garber, Leigh Bargudo, and Kerri Maniscalco." - Lyndall Clipstone, author of Lakesedge

"A richly imagined world featuring a slow burn, sizzling romance and a conflict that crackles with magic." - Elle Cosimano, award-winning author of Seasons of the Storm

"A remarkably fresh debut, This Vicious Grace is an absolute delight from cover to cover. Its rich, transportive world sparkles on every page, and I was spirited away by Thiede’s beautifully rendered cast. I would follow Alessa and Dante anywhere, and can’t wait for their next adventure." - Ayana Gray, New York Times bestselling author of Beasts of Prey

"From the lush setting to dire stakes and whip-smart banter, This Vicious Grace is romantic, suspenseful, and utterly unforgettable." - Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of the Reign of the Fallen series

"Riveting, passionate, and full of high stakes danger." - Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"The perfect blend of humor and heart, This Vicious Grace is a high-stakes romp that brims with deadly magic, sparkling chemistry, and the deep yearning for connection in an alienating world. Prepare to fall head-over-heels with Alessa and Dante!" - Allison Saft, author of Down Comes the Night

"Remixing all the best parts of a dark fantasy and a romantic comedy, This Vicious Grace is a wonderfully fun time from start to finish, with lush, complex worldbuilding, intensely relatable characters, and relationships that are easy to root for." - Hannah Whitten, New York Times bestselling author of For The Wolf


Emily Thiede is the author of THE LAST FINESTRA (Wednesday Books/MacMillan, summer 2022.) She grew up dreaming of becoming a dragon rider and now writes fantastical tales about magic, mayhem, and characters who flirt with their enemies while the world crumbles.

Born in New Jersey, Emily moved across state lines in high school like a true YA heroine, and now calls Virginia home. When she isn’t writing, you can find her fostering kittens, mentoring, and hosting writer social events.

You can find her on:


This Vicious Grace (The Last Finestra, #1)This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Vicious Grace is an italian influenced fantasy world where magic gifted people must battle hordes of deadly demon bugs each generation. The Finestra and Fonte team is chosen by the goddess Dea who must marry and partner in the fight to conquer the insects that attack the city. Alessa Paladino is the Finestra and she must choose her partner wisely out of all of the Fonte who have been gifted elemental magic. The right Fonte will enable her to bring out her power and amplify it, the wrong choice will lead to his or her death. At eighteen, she has chosen incorrectly three times and has suffered through the guilt of three funerals. In this situation anyone would feel like a black widow picking off innocent victims rather than the savior of an entire island. Alessa takes it deeply to heart and becomes paralyzed with indecision.

What I noticed right off the bat was that this protagonist isn't your typical strong, confident, kickass female lead that saves the world with one hand tied behind her back. She's a more relatable teen with insecurities and doubts. She's overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy about the savior role that's been thrust upon her. Alessa sees herself as a failure and shrinks away from confrontation when challenged or threatened. I think many more readers could identity with that internal struggle at some point in their life. It gives the story a coming-of-age feel in a fantasy setting. This young woman must learn how to recognize her weaknesses and turn them into strength in a very short, finite time.

The other overwhelming challenge Alessa faces is that the very townspeople she is expected to save start to turn on her. While the chosen Finestra is typically revered and protected at all costs, many start to lose faith in her and want to do her harm. After all, if you can't believe in yourself, how can you expect others to do so? It doesn't help that there is a "priest" sowing seeds of doubt around town. He and his followers are pushing the idea that she should die in order for a better candidate to fill her shoes before it's too late. Even her own family and guards betray her, pushing her feelings of isolation and helplessness to a whole new level.

    She’d never realized quiet had weight to it, 
a pulse that somehow, paradoxically, 
made it difficult to hear anything else.

It was pretty frustrating to see the callousness of these people all around her, who so casually discussed murdering an innocent girl who was desperately trying to help them. They quickly formed a mob mentality and lost all sense of reason because of a silver-tongued con man.

  Blessed. Oh, yes, she was the luckiest 
girl in the world, 
fending off murderers 
on a daily basis for the right 
to live long enough to fight 
a swarm of demons 
slavering to chew on her bones.

When her situation becomes desperate, Alessa turns to a criminally marked, anti-social stranger who fights for money on the wrong side of town. Dante is rough around the edges and prickly, the complete opposite of her in many ways. I think being exposed to his unapologetic personality helps her reach for those qualities within herself. No matter how impersonal and distant he tries to be with her, when he sees the weight she's silently carrying, he begins to soften. It's gradual, but you can see how he grows an attachment against his better judgment. Against all odds, he becomes a confidant, a friend, and someone she finally feels safe with. However, Dante has a dark past and a secret that could bring ruin upon them both if discovered. The subtle romance growing between them is impossible for too many reasons but necessary for one: they make each other feel whole. They are seen for the first time in their life and supported in a way that defines partnership. And yet, it is her duty to marry another when the time comes to fulfill her destiny.

“I can’t change how I feel about you.” 
“It doesn’t matter how we feel. Some things 
aren’t possible.”

This was a unique fantasy world, however it was a little slower paced in the first half than I would have liked. It dragged at times, forcing me to push through sections where I was feeling the urge to set the book down. I'm very glad I did, because the second half picked up. Especially the battle scene at the end which was action-packed and filled with suspense. Obviously there is a bit of a cliffhanger here because this book is part of a duology, but it isn't too painful to handle. Alessa and Dante still have much to do until they can put this fight behind them. A new enemy is coming for them in the next installment that will culminate in the ultimate battle of good vs. evil. I for one am invested to see how it will all go down.


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