The Devouring Gray

About 200 years ago, the founders of Four Paths, N.Y., trapped a Beast in a netherworld connected to their town. It is now up to their descendants to keep the town safe. Unfortunately, "the Gray [has] grown bolder this year, luring victim after victim into its world." Three have already died, their "eyes bleached the color of milk.... rib cage inverted, bones slicing through bloated skin." Justin Hawthorne, son of the sheriff, believed that when he came into his powers, he would singlehandedly end the scourge of the Gray. His younger sister, May, and friend Isaac (the only remaining member of the Sullivan founding family) passed their "rituals" and now display immense magical talents--Justin, however, failed. His mother believes the town will lose faith in their family if anyone learns he is powerless, so Justin keeps his shame a secret. There is one person in whom Justin could confide: Harper Carlisle, the eldest daughter of the third founding family. But Harper failed her ritual before Justin attempted his and, at his mother's insistence, Justin turned his back on her.

Then, Violet Saunders and her mother move into town. Believed to be a "dead branch of the bloodline," the Saunders' arrival seems to provoke the Gray, making the danger grow. The malevolent energy present in Four Paths pulses through the book, building a sense of dread that intensifies as this moody, dark work reaches its conclusion. Fans of Cassandra Clare or Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's Beautiful Creatures series should certainly pick up this entrancing YA debut. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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