Book Review: This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede

About the Book:

Title: This Vicious Grace

Author: Emily Thiede

Series: The Last Finestra

Page Length: 448

Publication Date: June 28, 2022

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Synopsis: 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! 

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

Alone, she said, a person is a thread easily snipped. Intertwined, we are strong enough to survive.

This Vicious Grace follows Alessa, a young woman whose touch kills. Chosen by the gods to protect her country from demons that kill everything in their path, Alessa must find her Fonte (partner with magic) before it’s too late. Unfortunately, Alessa’s power, which is supposed to magnify her partner’s magic, killed her first three choices.

When her life is endangered, and Alessa realizes she can’t even trust the guards sworn to protect her, she hires her own personal bodyguard, a mysterious and dangerous fighter named Dante. Alessa also decides to gather all of the potential Fontes 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 resist her growing feelings for Dante.

Alessa is such a great protagonist, and I really enjoyed her arc. She goes through so much in this story! As Finestra, she had to sever all ties with her family, and she’s not allowed to touch or be touched by anyone. It is a lonely life, and Alessa deeply craves connection. Most people fear her and keep her at a distance, especially since she killed her Fontes with her power. Alessa struggles with the guilt of these death and fears repeating past mistakes. She also has a lot of conflicted feelings about her power, her situation in life, and her feelings toward her religion, which is really interesting and something that many people can relate to.

Knowing that the country’s salvation is in her hands is a huge burden, and Alessa struggles with this throughout the story. Little rebellions offer her a glimpse of freedom, but she is never really free from the expectations and magic that constrain her. I think that’s why her relationship with Dante is so special and exceptional. He doesn’t care for the rules. He takes the time to get to know Alessa, and he doesn’t fear her. He sees her, not the Finestra, which is unheard of in her world.

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. Their relationship is fantastic! Their banter is wonderful – quick and funny and sarcastic and filled with so much chemistry, and they have total grumpy guy-sunshine girl vibes, which I adore. Dante and Alessa are both lonely and misunderstood, and it’s lovely to see how they grow from strangers to begrudging friends to something so much more.

If the only part of him she could claim was his attention, she wasn’t about to let go.

Other relationships in the story are dynamic too, and I particularly like the relationships Alessa develops with the potential Fontes. They all have distinct personalities, and they add so much to the plot. I also love the Italian-inspired setting and lore. The world-building is immersive and intriguing, and it really pulls you into this unique world of magic, demons, betrayal, lies, and danger. Something else I really like is how each chapter begins with a proverb, written in both Italian and English, and highlights the events that are about to occur. It’s like a bit of foreshadowing wrapped up in words of wisdom.

Thought-provoking themes of community, connection, questioning one’s beliefs, and more add to the poignancy of Alessa’s story. Not surprisingly, considering all Alessa goes through, she begins to question many elements of her life. She is finding herself and learning more about who she is and what she stands for, as are many of the younger characters in the novel. It’s fascinating to see them grow, change, and become more empowered.

I thought this was a great read. It’s suspenseful, the characters are as dynamic and layered as the setting and lore, and the magical elements are interesting. Plus, that ending!! It is equally a satisfying conclusion to the book and a cliffhanger that makes me eager to read the next book in the series. I highly recommend This Vicious Grace to readers who like layered, unique, and immersive YA fantasy. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Wednesday Books, and the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance!
  • The characters.
  • The Italian-inspired elements.
  • The writing style.

Favorite Lines:

The gods gave and took for their own incomprehensible reasons, and only fools tried to make sense of it. Her. She was the fool. Because she still wanted to understand.

The thing that scares men with power most is a woman with more of it.

Love was not conditional. It simply was.


I think this a great read for people who enjoy YA fantasy!

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