This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede is the first book in the Last Finestra duology. Alessa has been the bride at three weddings and has had to attend three subsequent funerals. Alessa was blessed with a magical gift from the Gods. She is supposed to magnify her partner’s magic, but instead she kills every suitor she touches.
Alessa is a Finestra and along with her partner, a being called a Fonte, is supposed to protect their island from a swarm of demons that would devour everything that it comes in contact with. The signs of their pending arrival are becoming more prominent. She is running out of time to find a new partner to train with in order to defeat the demon army. It doesn’t help that all the villagers hate her or are afraid of her. Many of the eligible Fontes have fled the island to escape being married to a Finestra that kills all her Fontes.
Alessa is the island’s only hope but that doesn’t prevent her from having a target on her back. A powerful rogue priest is riling up fellow villagers to convince them that Alessa is an imposter, and that their only chance for survival is having Alessa killed so another Finestra will rise in her place. Even the guards and her consultants that are supposed to serve her have tried or planned to assassinate her.
Alessa is afraid and doesn’t know who to trust. She goes into the city’s dark underbelly to find a bodyguard. Alessa finds Dante, a feisty outcast that has the mark of a killer. She pleads with him to be her protector as she has no one else she can trust nor depend on.
Dante acquiesces and decides to be her bodyguard. Alessa is overjoyed by this. She hopes that he will turn into a friend and someone she can trust. She tries to get close to Dante, but Dante refuses to let his walls down. As the rebellion led by the rogue priest happens closer to home, Alessa realizes Dante might be keeping a deadly secret that may ultimately lead to her downfall. Will Dante be able to help her master her gift or lead her to her demise?
The novel was an interesting read. I enjoyed reading how Alessa came into her own. She went from someone who was shy and needed constant guidance, to someone who followed her own heart and judgments. As she was learning to control her abilities, she learned how to use her emotions to help forward her mission, instead of dwelling in her own misery.
I like that Alessa went from someone who felt like a trapped animal to someone who had friends standing beside her. It was fun watching the playful banter evolve between Dante and Alessa. The relationships and bonds in the book felt realistic and made me empathize with Alessa and her plight. The supporting characters were all unique and I enjoyed reading about them bonding with each other.
The novel was a bit of a slow burn in terms of story progression and the budding romances. The ending came fast and quick. I felt like it was over in a blink of an eye. The novel does leave an opening for the second book in the series. I can’t wait to read the final book to see what happens.