The Grace Year, by Kim Liggett is an eerie look into a fictional cult-like society where young women are thought to gain a wicked magic when they reach womanhood.
When a girl turns 16, the entirety of her future is decided for her. If she is not chosen as a wife, a vocation is assigned to her. Then she is sent away with the rest of her female peers of the same age to a camp, where they are expected to expunge their magic over the course of a year. When they return, they are expected to have been purified.
A pinch of The Handmaid’s Tale, and a dash of Lord of the Flies, this book shows what can happen when culture is built entirely around the commoditization of women as either objects to be owned, or poached and taken for parts.
While this book is spooky, and uncomfortable to read at points, it is littered with glimmers of hope and beauty. The lead character, Tierney James is a strong willed independent thinker, who uses knowledge and common sense to navigate through her grace year.
There are a few good twists near the end, and it is a definite page turner. The only part that I as a reader really question is that the main character appears to take on very modern viewpoints right from the start, especially for someone who has grown up in a heavily suppressed society. I would have liked to see the character transform more as the story progressed. That is not to say that there is no character growth, and the modern voice does indeed allow for better relatability for readers. It was a gripping read the whole way through, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes spooky and dystopian reads.