This Vicious Grace

the romantic, unforgettable fantasy debut of the year

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Pub Date 28 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 30 Jun 2022

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Her gift can save . . . or it can kill.

'Riveting, passionate, and full of high stakes danger' Tamora Pierce

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?

Serpent & Dove meets The Bodyguard in this romantic, thrilling fantasy debut!


'A wonderfully fun time from start to finish' Hannah Whitten

'The perfect blend of humour and heart' Allison Saft

'This book is incredible' Lauren Blackwood

'Remarkably fresh' Ayana Gray

'Sure to be a favourite for fans of Stephanie Garber, Leigh Bardugo and Kerri Maniscalco' Lyndall Clipstone

Her gift can save . . . or it can kill.

'Riveting, passionate, and full of high stakes danger' Tamora Pierce

Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa's gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a...

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ISBN 9781399700115
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC I received in return for an honest review.

"I don't care what anyone says - your gift is a part of you, but it doesn't define you. You can choose to be better."

An Italian-influenced, intriguing and original fantasy set on an island that is besieged by demon hordes. A girl with a deadly gift, thrust into a life she never wanted. A boy who is not what he seems, sworn to protect her.

"You're the hero. I'm just asking a girl to hold my hand."

This book is so fantastic. I felt so immersed in the story from the very first page:

- exquisite world-building
- extremely likeable characters
- slow-burn romance
- bodyguard trope
- found family and friendships
- an epic battle
- plenty of hilarious and witty dialogue

Alessa and Dante have already worked their way into favourite couple territory in my little YA-fantasy-loving heart. I found their friendship and chemistry to believable, and as the slow-burn progressed it was utterly convincing.

The way Thiede wrote about food and sights and smells and drinks honestly made me think I was on the island myself - and has convinced me I need to take another trip to Italy soon!

"La morte mi troverá vivo. Death will find me alive."

Absolutely cannot wait for book two and have pre-ordered myself a physical copy of this one because I need it for my trophy shelf. I'll be telling all my friends to read it as soon as it's released.

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<i>I received this ARC thanks to the Publisher and NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.</i>

<b>"She'd give anything for a hand to hold. Or a hug.
She would <i>kill</i> for a hug.
To start with, I have to admit first hundred pages or so bored me. I couldn't get myself into the story. Everything felt weird and hard to understand. And the feeling of uneasiness when it came to Alessa's gift. Or sholuld I say curse? Being the savior of her island, she was granted powers to amplify strengths of her chosen partner. The thing is, each one of those she had before died.
<img src="" width="300" height="auto" alt="description"/>
<b>"1. Choose a Fonte.
2. Do <i>not</i> kill them.
3. Amplify their magic to save everyone and everything on Saverio -- or become the first to die."</b>
Every bit of time their island is attacked by demonic creatures ready to kill every living thing habitating their home. Their biggest chance at survival is <i>Finestra</i>, a divine damsel that when paired with <i>Fonte</i>, a magically gifted partner, could become a weapon stronger than the army of regular soldiers. With their help it's her duty to save others. Because of that as soon as one learns of becoming Finestra (casually by accidentally killing someone with your touch) she's moved to Citadella to train and well, find yourself a partner. A touch of Finestra is sacred, heaven blessed enough to kill anyone except Fonte strong enough to withstand her call. But with Alessa, our main character, struggling misserably with keeping her partners alive, people of the island start to doubt if she's truly <i>the</i> chosen one.
<img src="" width="300" height="auto" alt="description"/>
<b>"Didn't you hear me?" Alessa stumbled off the couch. "He tried to kill me."
"You should have let him."</b>
With her beloved subjects constantly making attempts on her life, Alessa decides to find a boudyguard she could trust. There's no better place to find one then at some shady place where fighters come. Gladly she's blessed with not-so-shady-but-full-of-secrets wolf -- <i>Dante</i>. Memorise this name, Alessa struggled for most of the book to learn his real one. Because that is exactly what drives this book the most -- <i>characters relationships</i>.
<img src="" width="300" height="auto" alt="description"/>
<b>He put his glass down and stood. "I have an idea."
Alessa backed away. "What are you doing?"
"I'm giving you a hug so you can save the world."
She knocked a chair over in her haste to escape. "No. Bad idea."</b>
As I've mentioned before, at first I wasn't feeling the plot. But oh boi, when the fun interactions between characters kicked in. I literally fell in love. Alessa and Dante agree, that he would guard her until she chooses her new Fonte in about a month, right before the calamity. In the meantime, all the ones that qualify to be selected are invited to Citadella to train with her, so maybe she could actually skip the part where she kills one in the end. Only a small group comes, but what can I say. They're all precious. If you want to get the exact vibes -- <i>Red Queen</i> silver kids training together with lethal <i>Juliette from Shatter me</i> that is in very questionable partnership -- fully professionally oriented! no doubt! -- like <i>Maiden and Hawke from Blood and Ash</i> series. So I guess you can totally understand me, when from being bored and uninvested in the story, I grew to laugh my butt off every few pages.

This story in no doubt feels like a debut, but a good one. I can't say it's mindblowingly new, as many of the threads are well known to anyone who reads fantasy ya, but it felt so fun and heartwarming (even with all the deaths) it's a story worth reading, if only you're in for some demons, found family, italian vibes in general and a main character that grows into the woman she desired to be. Without hesitation I'm giving this story a 4.5 stars rating -- not perfect in every way, but definitely amusing and heartening.

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Once I realized I reached the last page of the book, I cried in horror.

This Vicious Grace is the beginning of a duology centring around Alessa Paladino, the latest Finestra hailing from the island Saverio. As Finestra, she's meant to partner with a Fonte, someone with powers, and amplify those powers in order to save the island from another invasion of monsters. Trouble is, she's had five years to prepare, she's been unable to partner up with a Fonte because they keep dying at her touch, and time is running out.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm a sucker for romance, and I LOVE the tropes found in this one! The grumpy love interest COMBINED with the fantasy trope of the bodyguard, the *slow burn* (god damn and all the yearning), the flirty banter, oh! I'm pretty pleased. By the way, this book is not gonna be your jam if you're not a fan of fantasies with a heavy romance subplot, because a lot of time is devoted to developing the two leads and creating those character moments that make them click as a pair and as individuals.

One of the main themes of the book has to do with connections and community. Alessa's position as Finestra has her on a pedestal, but due to traditions associated with preparing herself in the role and the deaths that have occurred incidentally at her hand, she falls into a life of isolation and loneliness, touch-starved and hungry for genuine interaction with others. In the end, she breaks away from tradition and with some belief in herself, she manages to overcome her loneliness and the isolation everyone imposed on her, forming a found family with the secondary cast.

Speaking of, enough time was devoted to each secondary character that at the very least, we knew what their general personalities were like and could figure out/remember who was who. Actually, I enjoyed reading the dynamics between their distinct personalities and learning their individual interests, which contributed to some really sweet character moments between the cast members.

Considering the ominous vision at the end of the novel and the name of this series, I'm shaking in my seat for what will happen in the next book. You bet your butts I'm gonna be requesting the second book when it's out.

Thanks to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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In this book we follow Alessa who’s been chosen by the goddess Dea as their next Finestra. A person who has the power to amplify the magic of those blessed with it. The reason for this is so that she, together with the blessed partner (Fonte) of her choosing, can save the people of Saverio when the unnatural armies of Crollo attacks in a recurring event called Diverando.
But becoming Finestra means not only luxury and fame but shedding all ties to your old life and live in solitude and isolation until Diverando. For Alessa, that’s a fate worse than death. And death is something she’s become familiar with because she’s proven to be controlled by her power rather than her controlling it, which means the next Fonte of her choosing might be the fourth that dies by her hand.

This was another unexpected hit for me. I had heard nothing of this book before I picked it up, and I hadn’t even read the blurb for it. It’s a wonderful and easy book to read, it’s full of tension and stakes and a ticking clock to an epic battle you in all honesty don’t know how the main character’s going to be fit for.

I find the writing to be compelling and descriptive enough for me to focus on the plot lines. I get enough information about this world to keep me interested and wanting more, and enough to make it feel like I understand the basics of it. At the same time, I don’t feel like information is dumped upon me. I get what I need when I need it and little else, but that’s just the way I personally like it.

We follow the story through Alessa’s point of view, but her hired bodyguard, Dante, has a big part of the story. And these two main characters are well developed and very interesting to follow. Especially Dante who in himself is a bit of a mystery that the reader and Alessa want to solve. The rest of the featured cast is, however, a bit bland and one dimensional. I can see how this happened due to how the plot is structured and the limited time it provides, but it didn’t really feel like we were given enough time to get to know them to warrant the “friendship status” that Alessa gained with them. It felt hollow.

And to be honest, I’m not a fan of the “damsel in distress” kind of character. Which Alessa largely is. She’s helpless, crying a lot, begging for people to save her although she’s supposed to be the one that saves everyone. There’s little action and “go” in her, and she tends to sit around and mope rather than make difficult choices and do things.

I do, however, seem to really love grumpy, mysterious and handsome men with a lot of sarcasm. Which meant that I didn’t care that Alessa was a total damsel in distress when Dante was the one to come along and save her.

And I was so invested in the romance aspect of this book, that the plot and the threat of Diverando and the Fontes and all the things didn’t even matter. I couldn’t have cared less about the actual plot, because I finished the book because of the romance. Which is odd because I don’t usually like romance novels, and I’m a very plot driven kind of reader who usually don’t get invested in the characters. All I tend to want is to know what happened with the plot. Here, I just wanted to know about the romance.

I do want to say though that I, at times, felt lite it was a little “problematic” on the romance side. Or maybe that’s the wrong word for it. But Alessa clearly find Dante very very attractive, and she keeps talking about it, clearly objectifying him quite a lot. In one way it’s written so that it feels sweet and innocent, but at the same time had the gender roles been switched here, it wouldn’t have been. Who would find it sweet if a man repeatedly mentioned how much he wanted to touch a woman’s body and even at one point saying he wanted to pay to massage her. So why is it okay when a woman does it to a man? From Alessa’s point of view Dante seemed to like being watched and objectified, but how can we know for sure? Wouldn’t a man objectifying a woman also believe she wanted to judging by the way she was dressed etc.?

Yeah, I know, I’m taking this a little too far, but these were still things that I thought of while reading. Perhaps because the writing and the close perspective made it feel like I, the reader, was objectifying him. And that did make me a little uncomfortable because I knew I wouldn’t have wanted to be looked upon the way Alessa looked upon Dante, even from a man I was attracted to.

But in the end, the romance is fantastic in the novel, and the characters are considerate, and consent is important to them, which I find wonderful. More novels like this where there’s clear consent in romance, thank you very much.

So, if you like yourself a slow-burn romance, I think you might like this one. Also, the plot—you know the thing about preparing for the battle and not killing the ones supposed to help you save the world—well that works very well too. So even if you’re not a romance fan, and like me tend to prefer plot over characters, I think you might like this too. There’s a good plot here, just not as a great as the romance .

All in all, a great book that had be reading far into the night. So read it.

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One of my favourite reads of the year so far!

Alessa is the Finestra - a powerful magic-amplifier tasked with finding a Forte whose power she can use to defeat an impending demon invasion. The only trouble is, she keeps accidentally killing her Fortes (Forti! Sorry, Dante).

The world building was phenomenal, and the characters made this novel really something. There is a believable romance and an element of found family and everything about this book completely blew me away. I even found myself wiping away a tear towards the end!

I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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I really enjoyed This Vicious Grace! although it seemed to have started rather slowly as soon as Alessa met Dante I knew we were in for a treat! I adore these characters and their relationship (we’ve got to love the bodyguard trope!) but i also came to love the group of fontes, it was lovely to see Alessa’s relationship with people grow as she learns more about herself too!
Overall, i loved this book, i thought the concept was really cool and the Italian influences just made it even better. I can’t wait for the rest of the series!

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Don’t you just love when you don’t quite know what to expect from a book and it turns out to be absolutely amazing? I certainly do.

This Vicious Grace was more or less everything I want a young adult fantasy book to be. It’s fast-paced without ever feeling rushed and lots of details which makes both setting and story come alive without ever even risking to drag. Reading this book truly was like being transported back to another time and place. I could feel the sun and hear the buzz from the people milling about in the city.
The plot is unique and intriguing with several twists and revelations throughout the book. All characters feel so authentic as well,

It has a great and intriguing plot with a strong main character and lots of interesting supporting characters, some of which I truly hope we’ll see more of in the future.

And don’t even get me started on the romance sub-plot. I’m a sucker for enemies-to-lovers kind of thing and although I’m not quite sure if This Vicious Grace actually counts as enemies-to-lovers, it has all the slow-burn tension and witty banter I could ever want. Pure perfection.

Authors (like pretty much everyone else) tends got get better with practice and I don’t know about you, but I for one cannot wait for what else Emily Thiede has in mind for the future. I mean, if her debut novel is this good…

I know we’re only in the beginning of March but I can already tell that This Vicious Grace will be one of my top reads this year. So add this to your tbr right away, you don’t want to miss out on this one. Trust me!

***Thank you Hodder & Stoughton for providing an eARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

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Rating: 4.5/5 ⭐️

I’ve been seeing a lot of bookstagrammers get excited over this book and I was so glad to be given an Arc in exchange on an honest review.

The story begins in a funeral. Alessa was meant to amplify the powers of her Fonte, her partner, but so far she’d only ended up killing them. Things take a turn for worse when an attempt is made on her life, followed by an uprising against her. Day by day, it worsens with everyone, from her guards to the people she trusts plotting her death. When it became apparent that she was no longer safe in the Cittadella, her refuge, she hires Dante to protect her until she chooses another partner.

From the very first line, I was entrapped by this story. It may have to do with the fact that the first lines of the book was written in Italian and the whole ‘deadly touch’ trope. The author effortlessly weaves a story filled to the brim with twists, betrayal and action. Alessa’s different stages of grief, the sense of detachment she experiences when she leaves behind her old life, and her constant fear and apprehension made the story more realistic. The slow-burn romance was perfect. And Dante was a swoon-worthy book boyfriend. I mean, that man is a reader and gets offended at the possibility of books getting damaged. It can’t get better than that.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good fantasy book with a girl with a deadly touch, and boy with a secret that’s deadlier.

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OH MY GOSH i enjoyed this book. It was a slow burner to begin with but as tension incresed so did the pace and I was completely hooked. It is well written with a really interwsting and totally compelling storyline with an incredible setting and well developed characters that jumped off of the pages. The world building is simply stunning honestly I felt like I could just jump in and be in the world in amongst the storyline.
This book had everything that I look for in in fantasy books and more, there was so much in this book that it made my head spin - in the best way.
I loved it.

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This book was such an incredible fantasy debut. I fell in love with the characters so quickly, and the dynamics between Alessa and Dante were just perfect. Loved the witty sarcastic banter between them.

The slow burning romance was a perfect compliment to the pace of the plot.

Speaking of the plot - what a story. It was a little confusing at first but once get your head around the concept, it flows really well and I was completely addicted.

So glad I picked this up and cannot wait for book 2!

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A fun and immersive debut from Emily Thiede. I couldn’t put this boom down. Filled with witty banter, unlikely friendships, a swoon-worthy romance, and high stakes tension.

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A big thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with this eArc!!

This was such a unique book! I love it!! Whoa!! I can’t wait to read more by this author!

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What a superbly written debut!

This Vicious Grace is the story of Alessa, the Finestra, a kind of magical divine warrior who is relied upon to save her home island of Saverio. Alessa must rely on a Fonte, a human similar to herself, using and amplifying their magic and making it her own. Only her strength is too much, and so far she has killed three Fontes.

This fact has destroyed her reputation, making her a pariah with many questioning whether she is actually a fake. It all comes to a head when assassination attempts are made on her life and Alessa takes matters into her own hands, hiring a bodyguard to protect herself. But Dante the bodyguard has his own secrets, ones which could pose more of a danger to Alessa than those after her life...

I absolutely adored This Vicious Grace. Thiede is a beautiful writer and there were so many quotable pieces. Alessa is an inspiration, there was so much against her even from the beginning and the loneliness she feels is crippling and so well described. Her fear of killing another has her understandably hesitating, and it sets her apart from the other characters even when she wants to be near them. Her isolation makes her awkward with other people and I loved how that was portrayed when she tries to talk and connect with the Fontes.

The world building is lush, the picture Thiede paints of Saverio is so vivid you can almost smell the lemons in the air (haha). The Italian aspects were well handled and I loved all the interspersed proverbs. Especially when a certain bodyguard was saying.

And speaking of Dante, aka my new book boyfriend...I adored him right from their first antagonistic meetibg. His banter with Alessa was pitch perfect and their slow development from grudging respect to love was beautifully done. I absolutely adored their friendship, the way Dante teased Alessa out of her shell, and how she in turn, didn't allow him to remain the closed off, damaged young man he is at the beginning. Whilst this isn't a dual pov book Dante's feelings are clear on the page, and Alessa's bemusement to some of his reactions (which were obvious to the reader) were so delightful and bought a lovely touch of humour to some of the darker moments.

I finished the book in one sitting, immediately pre-ordered it and then sat cursing myself for not lingering in this world more. Especially because now I have to wait a whole year for the next book?! (Please tell me it's a year 😂) That ending was so good it hurt and I NEED to know what happens next for Alessa, Dante and the others.

This Vicious Grace will undoubtedly be one of my favourite releases of the year. If you're looking for a lush fantasy, with an intriguing magic system, a beautiful found family dynamic, gorgeous setting and the swooniest of romances, look no further than This Vicious Grace.

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Excuse me. EXCUSE ME It’s almost rude how amazing this book is. It’s been a while since I last had a book that was near on impossible to put down and that kept me up all night but This Vicious Grace did just that.

I adored Alessa, she’s strong, smart and independent. Her loneliness endeared me to her straight away, we love reading about a strong female. Dante was… well there aren’t any words for Dante really, other thank DAMNNN.

This book is a guaranteed page turner that will have you gripped from the very first line. An addictive tale filled with witty banter, betrayals, found family and reluctant allies turned… well, you’ll have to read and find out 😏

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This is not my usual type of book but it certainly made a good impression upon me. The story and the world it was set in was interesting and immersive. The characters and especially the dynamics between them, were delightful. I will be watching out for more books from this author.

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Three weddings. Three funerals. A girl who is trying ever so hard not to kill her husband…but simply cannot help herself.

First impressions are just wow! I love the map of the city of Saverio. The opening page was fantastic - I was hooked! - and I love the immersion with Italian. Lyrical and macabrely beautiful.

I love the concept of the Finestra and Fonte - two halves that intertwine to make a whole. The magic system was also really enjoyable to read about, I liked how it was versatile and different depending on the individual that was using it.

Overall, this story was so fun to read! Imaginative, witty, beautifully romantic

4.5 stars!

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This Vicious Grace is a unique and brilliant fantasy that had me on the edge of my seat!

The first thing I loved about this book were the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter, which were very beautiful and really drew me in.

I liked Alessa as a character and thought she was very realistic. She was rebellious but also hopeful and selfless, which made her a very loveable character. I loved the dynamic between Alessa and Dante, her bodyguard, friend and love interest. Their banter was humorous but I also loved the more serene moments where they slowly fell in love.

Whilst I found that it started off rather slow, the pace quickly began to pick up and the romance, danger and anticipation completely drew me in. There wasn't much worldbuilding of what was beyond the island where this book takes place, however I enjoyed the mystery and am excited for it to be explored in book two.

Thank you to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Every five years the goddess Dea chooses a “Finestra” to defeat the demons attempting to destroy humankind, sent by the god, Crollo, in an event known as Divorando. In order to succeed, a Finestra must find her “Fonte” who she draws power from. Alessa Paladino is in her fifth year as the risen Finestra, and with Divorando on the horizon, she is yet to have her Fonte match. Instead, her powerful touch has inadvertently killed all three of her chosen Fontes. With those surrounding her beginning to suspect Alessa might be a false Finestra and a sign of the end of the world, Alessa must fight off attempted assassinations whilst trying to find the answer as to why she can’t keep a Fonte alive. With the help of an off-the-street-ruffian-turned-bodyguard, Alessa does not have long to avoid her enemies wrath and find answers, before Divorando arrives.

This Vicious Grace is an easily readable pageturner set in an intriguing world with likeable characters. This is the kind of story I enjoyed whilst reading it, but appreciate it more since finishing it.

Despite struggling to wrap my head around the world building at first, I really liked the world of Saverio. It explores the idea of good vs evil and the conflicts of having the fate of the world vested in one all powerful being. I particularly liked how Thiede explored the purpose, interpretation and practice of religious ideals. Do scriptures truly mean what they mean? Are they interpreted correctly? Through Alessa, the Finestra, who lives under the thumb of stringent rules that are deemed reasonable due to religious precedent, Thiede explores this dilemma.

As a result, for a good portion of the book, it was hard to know who Alessa truly was and who her role of Finestra required her to be. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this. It made her a mystery to unravel, and definitely relatable when one is trying to figure out who they are versus who they’ve been told to be. I could feel the pressure closing in on Alessa. I could feel the loneliness drowning her from within. I could feel her inner plea of desperation for connection to others. I was bursting with pride every time she resolved to continue the good fight.

I’m not one for spoilers, but I feel I need to state this: at Alessa’s lowest point in the book, she is encouraged by other characters to contemplate (and even commit) suicide. I personally did not find this written in too distressing of a manner, however, one size doesn’t fit all, so I felt it prudent to mention this.

What can I say about the mysterious underground fighter turned bodyguard? I *loved* Dante. I must commend Thiede for ensuring that Dante is not reduced to a powerful protagonist’s love interest. As the story unfolds, it’s clear he has his own arc, with a seemingly pivotal role for the sequel. Dante is mysterious and aloof, but deep down, Alessa and I were both certain he’s a morally good sweetheart who can’t not help someone in need.

The friends-to-lovers relationship between Alessa and Dante was so satisfying. Dante is the Flynn Rider to Alessa’s Rapunzel. Just as much as I relish love triangles or starcrossed tropes, I equally adore devoted lovers, and so far, that is what Dante and Alessa are. Thiede, please I beg of you, don’t blow a hole in my ship! Also, the supporting characters definitely enriched the story, rousing intrigue and suspicion.

Undoubtedly, This Vicious Grace is one of the most exciting YA fantasy debuts of 2022. The end of the book sets up the sequel’s direction nicely, and I’m very much looking forward to where those threads take the story next. Can I have it now, please?!

Thank you kindly to Hodderscape for an eARC in exchange for this honest review.

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From now on if someone asks for a YA fantasy romance, this is what they’re being recommended. I absolutely loved it! I’ve already got my hardback copy ordered for release day, as well as a signed bookplate from the author 😌

The setting was absolutely stunning, I actually felt like I was on the island with them, and it’s made me itch for a holiday surrounded by lemon trees, sipping wine and eating pastries.

Alessa and Dante were such likeable MCs that you just wanted them to thrive and get that happy ending.

The politics and world building were done really well. I hope if theres more books we get a better look at the gods and how things came to be.

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4.5 stars
Emily Thiede’s magical debut is an utterly thrilling YA fantasy that’s full of heart, humour and a swoon-worthy romance that I literally couldn’t get enough of!

Alessa is supposed to be her island’s saviour with a gift to amplify her partners magic, but after three weddings and three funerals her abilities have only managed to kill every suitor with her touch. Now, there’s only weeks left until an angry swarm of demons descends on her island home, and Alessa is running out of time to find a new partner and stop the invasion.

After an assassination attempt from her own soldiers, the desperate Alessa hires the cynical killer Dante to act as her personal bodyguard, but his dark secrets may be the biggest betrayal. For he holds the key to her survival and her heart—the one person who can help her master her gifts or destroy her once and for all…

I absolutely loved every second of this, the world building was incredible and the opening line “Three Weddings. Three Funerals. A better person would’ve been devastated.” was just so attention grabbing, I knew that it was gonna be good!

With vividly lush prose and mouth-wateringly electable descriptions, Emily Thiede’s stunning fantasy weaves a gorgeously lush tale of connection, self doubt and self love with nuanced and emotionally complex characters I couldn’t get enough of.

Alessa, our protagonist was a wonderfully relatable and endearing character with a sharp wit, but the isolation and loneliness of her role (and her deadly abilities) has left her touch starved and craving any form of interaction—which I’m sure many will resonate with given the lockdowns and self isolation we’ve all endured the past few years.

The pacing did start off a little slow but, once Dante enters Alessa’s orbit and agrees to be her bodyguard things really start to get interesting. Dante is the perfect book boyfriend, he puts her first even in the early stages of their friendship (which I loved), he’s a self confessed book nerd and his cynical, bad boy grumpy demeanour pairs perfectly with Alessa’s more sunshine-y personality.

His chemistry with Alessa was also fabulously swoon-worthy and the slow burn build up between the two was absolutely perfect—not to mention I of witty, innuendo filled banter we a treated to. Trust me there’s no way you’ll be rooting for anyone but these two in this Serpent & Dove meets The Bodyguard YA fantasy.

The ending was an action packed and emotion-filled fight fest which I really enjoyed, I’ll admit I was on the edge of my seat for the entirety of it and in constant worry mode for all my favourite characters. I won’t go into too much detail but I will say that I’m now eagerly awaiting the sequel to see what happens next.

Overall, This Vicious Grace is a beautifully written and plot-twisty found family, forbidden/ friends to lovers romance that’s full of gorgeous prose, pithy Italian proverbs and a fantastic cast of characters that fans of YA fantasy or Kerri Maniscalco’s The Kingdom of The Wicked are bound to fall head over heels for.

Also, a huge thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for the e-arc.

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What a great debut novel. This Vicious Grace is thrilling from the get go. I was completely immersed in this new world. Alessa is a captivating main character. Thiede's writing is flawless, bringing the reader into the fantasy world so skilfully that it seems effortless. I'll be waiting for the next instalment of the series and Thiede is an instant must read author for me now.

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This is an Italian-inspired romance fantasy set in a city called Saverio. The main character is Alessa, a girl that blessed with some kind of divine power and along with her partner supposed to be the savior of Saverio, but she accidentally killed 3 partners in a row with those power. After those 3 deaths, everyone started to doubt Alessa. And secretly plotting against her. That's when she decided to find someone to protect her.

And then there's Dante, a mysterious man who have a complicated past. Live hasn't been kind to him, until he met Alessa. The dynamics between Alessa and Dante reminds me of Poppy and Hawke from From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout but less seductive, and I enjoyed it so much. They're such an Iconic character for this book and I love it💕

There's also this one character that I hate so MUCH because he reminds me of the Apparat from Grishaverse books but I'm not gonna elaborate. Just read it yourself and you'll understand. The other characters also fitting so well, the Fontes (sorry I mean 𝘍𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘪😃) providing a lovely found family.

Honestly this book gripped me hard from the very first page and I'm so happy that it turns out really good, even though it's only a debut. It has medium pace, maybe a bit slow at first but it's not dragging. It gave me all kinds of emotions, the jokes and banters made me giggled and excited but the angst scene broke my heart☹️

Moral values that I got from reading this are pretending to be strong won't solve your problem, it's okay to want something, it's okay to fulfill your needs, it's okay to trust your guts. And don't settle with the bad label people put on you because you can be much more than that, and it's never too late to change for the better.

Overall this is a splendid debut, I can't wait for the next book even though this book hasn't been published yet🥲 Will definitely reread it in the meantime.

𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘴𝘰 𝘮𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘵𝘰 𝘕𝘦𝘵𝘎𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘏𝘰𝘥𝘥𝘦𝘳 & 𝘚𝘵𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘰𝘯 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢 𝘥𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘭 𝘈𝘙𝘊 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬!

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Can I just say EMILY THIEDE! YOUR WRITING? EXCELLENT. I laughed so many times OUT LOUD when I read this (which almost never happens🤩). I lived for the banter between Dante 🥵 and our deadly finestra. The amount of times I had to stop reading to appreciate the Italian phrases in the book was a temporary setback (but I did enjoy it!).
I was reminded of Fbaa but just... Better- I wish we got a better view of Dante's world (even a story from his pov) but overall, I lived this plot and the competition aspect.
4.5/ 5 rounded up.

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Received this book as an ARC from Hodderbooks in exchange for an honest review so here we go 🥰

Rating: 5/5⭐️

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 be her personal bodyguard. But Dante is not who he says he is.

You can’t avoid loving Alessa, wish her all the kindness and love in the world and cheer for her happiness! She’s so genuine and wants the simplest things in life: friends, affection, just to not be alone. You can’t also avoid falling in love with Dante and all his toughness and his tries to prove he’s bad (when in reality, he’s so kind and good!).
All the characters are full of reality and you will find yourself finding little pieces of yourself in each and everyone one of them!

This book keeps my attention captive from the very beginning with it’s gorgeous plot and beautiful character growth. Alessa and Dante’s relationship starts from a professional relationship to true friendship that evolves into something more!

This story goes through ups and downs of human emotions, from loneliness to the spark of a warm hug and it felt so raw and was beautifully expressed! A great debut fantasy novel from Emily Thiede and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her! Will definitely keep an eye out for any future books of hers (and obviously the sequel of this amazing duology)!

This review will be posted on my bookstagram (@maria_bookshelf) during the release week so keep an eye out for it 😆💕!

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Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

Alessa is the Finestra, a gift given bu the gods to protect the people and her home. Yet she has killed three of her Fonte, those who she borrows her power from, when she thouched, them. The ending is near and her soldiers are starting to attack her, so she decides to get a bodyguard, enter Dante.

The book is a mix of slow-burn and normal pace. The start of it was slow ina beautiful way. We learned about Alessa and her feelings and her thoughs. Both Alessa and Dante have issues that they need to work on and they were both so supportive of eachother and were trying their best to help one andother. Their relationship was beautiful.

I loved her potential Fonte. They all were so different yet were there for eachother. Theyw ere scared yet when the moment came they aere all willing to sacrifice themselves. Their friendship was absolutely beautiful and has become one of my favourite found families.
I loved the sex talks, the iinuendos. The main characters are 18-20 years old and thats what this range of age do, they talk about sex and joke about it with their friends. Sex is a normal and natural thing and shouldnt be trated as a taboo so thank you Emily Thiede.

Overall i enjoyed the book so much and will long for the following one for a looong time.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a free ARC in exchange for a review.

I ADORED this book.

First off, a beautiful map and an illustration of the fantasy land?? My prayers have been answered.

Alessa is such a strong, complicated, and caring protagonist and the relationships she establishes throughout the book are so lovely. The Fontes were really wonderful, developed characters, and Dante and Alessa were so strong together, and created a really healthy, beautiful relationship based in friendship.

The concept of a Fonte and Finestra was really interesting to me, and felt so innovative. The world-building, although based on familiar tropes (and Italy) felt new and exciting.

We're in a historical Italian inspired world, but Thiede doesn't shy away from including diverse groups, which is a common problem in European inspired fantasies. Alessa and her brother grow up with a Deaf Nonno, and so use sign language throughout the book, and there are explicit mentions of different ethnicities and cultures within Saverio, because of course there is! Not to mention, Alessa is mentioned multiple times are being bisexual. So refreshing and exciting to see!

I am very, very, very excited about this series. I cannot wait to see where Alessa, Dante, and the Fontes go next and I will be first in line for the next books! Five "luce mia" stars.

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I am not someone who tabs books but I think I may need to get a physical copy of this when it is released so that I can tab it. The parts I wanted to tab were the proverbs, some very sweet parts and some humorous parts.

I really liked Alessa, she's thrown into a role of power and she's had three Fontes die because of her but she's still powering on. Her character also grows so that she becomes someone who stands up for herself and who isn't afraid of change.

I loved Dante. He isn't the villain he's being made out to be and he's there for Alessa. He's also willing to sacrifice himself for her! I also love his humour.

I'm not going to lie, I did struggle to follow the story at the beginning and I did think it lacked a little explanation for an event (though I likely just skimmed it because I don't read eBooks well 🙈) but I loved the story overall.

It's a slow burn romance with a grumpy love interest and found family.

Bring on book two!

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This Vicious Grace follows Alessa, the finestra tasked with finding a suitor, magnifying their power and defeating a swarm of demons. Unfortunately her touch has killed every suitor so far and when a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island’s only hope, her own soldiers try to assassinate her. She hires Dante, an outcast marked as a killer to be her bodyguard but he's keeping secrets that could be the biggest betrayal. Will he be the one person who can help her master her gift or destroy her once and for all?

I devoured this book! The world felt so enchanting, inspired by Italy, the descriptions of the fortezza, the beaches and the atmosphere were magical! Alessa was a strong main character, her growth as she planned how to save Saverio and starts to rebel was incredible! There is so much depth to her character and Dante's as well, who is the perfect love interest!

I loved the friendships Alessa formed, there were many sweet moments where I was really happy for her after being lonely for so long. The found family trope is used so well here! It was gripping from the very beginning and I'm already anticipating the sequel! I definitely recommend this one!

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Absolutely loved this. Thank you net-galley and Hodder & Stoughton for giving me an arc.

I loved this book so much - immediate five stars. The world building and drawing on Italian culture and lore was really interesting and nicely done.

The writing style was beautiful, there was a lot of descriptive language that I really appreciated.

The characters are thoroughly fleshed out and I loved both Dante and Alessa’s arcs and thought they complimented each other well.

Overall, I think this is perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalo, Raven Kennedy and Holly Black.

Couldn’t recommend enough.

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This book was so good and so fun to read. I was close to tears when finishing it. I don’t even know what to talk about because I think I’m already in a book hangover and I don’t want to wait another year for the next book😭

I was trying to read this at every chance I had. On the bus to and from work, at work (during lunch of course..), before bed, in bed, in the morning in bed, during breakfast. Surprisingly it still took me two days to read but I’m glad because I got to savour every second I was reading.

Alessa’s growth was just astounding to see and I couldn’t help but feel so proud for her. Her friendship with Dante was absolutely perfect at pushing both their boundaries and challenging their beliefs. Their banter in every scene were my favourite parts.

Even the growth of the other Fontes (sorry- I mean Fonti) was developed perfectly. You can flick from the front to the back of the book and see a complete difference and yet it didn’t feel rushed at all. Their growing trust and friendship was so heartwarming.

Even the battle scene at the end had me on the edge of my seat. It was written perfectly and had me wanting to cheer and sob all at once.

Basically I need the next book NOW please and thank you

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From the first page I knew that I was going to enjoy This Vicious Grace. It just was so easy to read it, the pages melted away and I didn’t want to stop reading. I needed to know what happen next. Not so surprising that it turned out to be my favourite read from last month. Even when I had to take pauses, my mind stayed with the story eager to know what happen next to Alessa and Dante.

Speaking of Alessa and Dante, they were the perfect main characters. They were both colourful, without being too much. The chosen one desperate for human companionship and proving herself, and a broody bodyguard with a heart of gold. I’m not usually a person who likes broody and stand-offish guys, but Dante won me over. Probably because he wasn’t just broody for the sake of it.Their relationship was spicy, and sweet, and they cared so much about each other. Also I don’t think I’ve ever read a better story with the “forced intimacy ” trope. And when it come to the other characters I was happily surprised in how the story evolved with them. I wasn’t expecting a found family story, but I’m not complaining as I’m a person who adores that trope.

The story was intriguing and highly engaging, you never knew what to expect around the next page and the main conflict was very noticeable throughout it. It’s a wonderful fantasy read, not at least thanks to it’s main characters. Because you will end up caring about them. I highly recommend you to pick up this book, and if you’re looking for a spiritual successor to Serpent and Dove - this is the one for you!

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I loved This Vicious Grace! A fresh new perspective on YA/NA historical fantasy,, the Italian setting, angst, curses, and romance combined to leave an unforgettable book!
Dante is one of my favourite characters and Alessa definitely wasn't your typical YA female lead. I especially liked the supporting cast of characters as they developed.
Can't wait for the next one to see what happens!

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I absolutely devoured this Italian-inspired YA fantasy. Alessa and Dante were wonderful main characters and their romance was incredible. The premise of the story was utterly engaging and the world-building was richly detailed and atmospheric. The setup for book two has me dying to read it and I need Alessa and Dante to get their happy ever after. I can't recommend this enough!

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Thank you Hodder and Stoughton and NetGalley for providing me with an E-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Holy moly, words cannot explain how much I loved this book! I was absolutely hooked and the bodyguard trope?? YES PLEASE.

This book was so much better than I had anticipated. Everything from the plot to the characters to the setting was amazing, and I immediately fell in love with the story. This is a perfect book for people wanting to get into the fantasy genre. It wasn't too complicated and it was easy to follow.

After that ending... I need more. Like right now.

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This Vicious Grace was a wonderful debut, with charming characters and great world-building. I loved Alessa and Dante's relationship so much and how it naturally progressed throughout the book. My heart broke for both of them as they struggled to deal the fact that they weren't 'normal' due to things completely out of their control. Seeing Alessa finally find someone who she could be friends with and have a human connection with - even just have a simple hug - was so gratifying. I enjoyed all the Italian references in this too, as well as the wider magical elements. All in all, this is a great start to a fantasy series if you're looking for a new one!

(PS - it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, which makes me desperate to read book 2!)

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This Vicious Grace is an Italian-inspired fantasy book full of beautiful world-building and lovable characters. If you like slow burn, forbidden romance with a side dose of the found family trope, this book is for you!

The main characters Alessa and Dante had one of the most genuine connections I have ever read. Their flirting was cute and funny without being too cringy and Alessa's innuendo's cracked me up!

The world-building was spectacular! The entire plot of this story was so captivating and unique. The only slight flaw I had was that the first third of the book was so info heavy I found myself getting a bit confused. However, this didn't take away from the reading experience and could just be because I've devoured this book in one sitting in the early hours of the morning!!

I think one of my favourite things about this book was the found family aspect. This book looks into the effects of loneliness and Alessa's pain is so relatable. The connection she eventually has with her friends are so heart-warming and I love that they play an important part in the final action.

Overall, I went into this book blind and it was such a pleasant surprise. This is up there in my top 10 reads of the year and I can't wait for the series to be continued!

Thank you to NetGalley and Hodder&Stoughton for this review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa is the Finestra and she needs a Font, but they keep dying. Her touch should be magnifying their powers not killing them. She needs a partner to save her home of Saverio from demons. When rebellion is sparked and her life is in danger, she hires a bodyguard, Dante...

This is such an engaging premise, with Italian-flavored flair and a touch of cynicism. The narrative has a lyrical touch presenting such imaginative and senses-driven figurative speech. Thiede gifts us with an all-enveloping world and mythology that has you enthralled. The situation exceeds the expectation of humor and thrills.

Alessa may be the 'chosen one' but hers is an existence of loneliness. She is grounded in the sense that she has doubts and worries like everyone else. The evolution of the great characters and the relationships (some more than smile-worthy) are so well written and tug at your heartstrings. You always care the fiercest for characters or relationships that are supposed to be doomed.

You will absolutely adore Dante and his 'grumpiness'. Alessa and Dante bring the best out of each other when they aren't throwing bars, intentional or unintentional insults, sarcasm and the whatnot at each other. I chuckled, snorted, even laughed in pure glee so many times.

Showing duty, betrayal and prejudice, this book is about belief. Belief in yourself. Belief that people will stand up to the occasion if given half the chance. It is also about love and to paraphrase the book it doesn't demand perfection. It does demand, like life in general, to be yourself.

Absolutely entertaining, beautifully unpredictable and so gasp-worthy, there were times when I read so fast I thought I would get whiplash. This book is a new favorite and I cannot wait for the sequel.

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Alessa is a stellar main character, I could not wait to see what happened next! Each chapter was better than the last. Completely engrossing, highly recommend!

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