Blessed by the gods, a thrice-married, thrice-widowed 18-year-old must learn to control her power to prevent calamity amid rebellion in Thiede’s mesmerizing debut. Cued-white Alessa Paladino’s blessing is also a curse. As the Finestra on the island of Saverio, she has little magical ability of her own but can amplify the mystical powers granted to individuals, called Fonte, by the goddess Dea. Finestra and Fonte are expected to collaborate, oftentimes through marriage, to save Saverio from Divorando, an apocalyptic day of reckoning on which Dea’s opposition, Crollo, would decimate the island with his “devouring minions.” Yet all three Fontes have succumbed to Alessa’s fatal power, and when her guards turn against her, convinced that her death will save Saverio, she hires outsider Dante, a “bronzed” muscled mercenary, for protection. His job is to keep her safe, and his presence helps Alessa wrangle her gift, but secrets from his past may yet lead to Saverio’s ruin. Though the worldbuilding is occasionally thin and familiar, it’s complemented by rich, descriptive writing and anchored by a clever heroine. Thiede weaves political intrigue, power struggles, and faith with intense romance in this immersive series opener. Ages 13–up. Agent: Chelsea Eberly, Greenhouse Literary. (June)
From the Publisher
A SIBA 2023 Southern Book Prize Finalist
A Summer 2022 Kids’ Indie Next Pick
One of YALSA's 2023 Best Fiction for Young Adults
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"One of the best fantasies of the year." - Buzzfeed
“With masterful world-building and endearing characters, This Vicious Grace is a stunning YA fantasy that will leave the reader breathless. Highly recommend for fans of Dance of Thieves, The Tiger at Midnight, and The Shadows Between Us.” - Young Adult Books Central
“This Vicious Grace melds two of our favorite things: slow burn romance and mythological reimaginings. Flipping through the pages feels like a sweltering European vacation and that’s before we get to the bodyguard trope in the form of hunky love interest Dante. [A] delightful debut.” - Nerdist
"Readers will be drawn to Alessa’s kind and independent spirit as she grapples with duty versus agency, love and betrayal—all situated within a well-crafted world. An eerie, magic-infused debut." - Booklist
"...a near-perfect blend of fantasy romance magic, one that will leave readers both thoroughly satisfied and eager for a sequel...A lush setting sprinkled with an irresistible Italian flavor and worldbuilding that hints at much more historical and political depth than we’re allowed to see on the page, This Vicious Grace is effortlessly romantic, thrillingly immersive, and more than worth your time this summer." - Paste Magazine
"Quick witted and action packed with a bodyguard romance that’s equally as supportive and warm as it is angsty and fun, This Vicious Grace... is about to become your newest YA fantasy obsession." - United by Pop
"If you are a fan of dark fantasy and romantic comedies, then This Vicious Grace might be the perfect book for you!" - Her Campus
"Thiede's mesmerizing debut weaves political intrigue, power struggles, and faith with intense romance in this immersive series opener." - Publishers Weekly
"Thiede’s dramatic and fantastical debut is artfully colored with Italian-inspired lore." - Kirkus Reviews
"This Vicious Grace is a luminescent fantasy with impeccable worldbuilding (an immersive Italian-inspired shoreline setting), a delightfully sharp-witted cast and a ravishingly provocative romance. This Vicious Grace is impossible to forgeta superb and captivating YA fantasy with wit, charm and a romance readers will swoon over." - Shelf Awareness
"A tense, beautifully written story of power, disability and guilt...If you want a rich, poetic page turner for the summer, look here." - The Seattle Times
"An Italian-infused debut novel recommended for collections where fantasy is popular. Thiede creates an array of dynamic characters and a suspenseful story that will leave readers ready for the next installment." - School Library Journal
"Gorgeously atmospheric and effortlessly romantic, This Vicious Grace is a high stakes story with a central duo you truly miss when the book ends. If the thrilling climatic battle between the book’s heroes and the demons is anything to go by, Emily Thiede has much more up her sleeve than a heart-fluttering romance between a saviour and her bodyguard. And the surprise revelation at the end suggests we should be very excited about the sequel." - Culturefly (UK)
"This book is incredible! The banter, the romance, the tension! I couldn't get enough!" - Lauren Blackwood, New York Times bestselling author of Within These Wicked Walls
"Filled with witty banter, unlikely friendships, a swoon-worthy romance, and high stakes tension, Emily Thiede creates an immersive fantasy world inspired by the sun-drenched Amalfi coast that will captivate readers until the very last page. Sure to be a favourite for fans of Stephanie Garber, Leigh Bargudo, and Kerri Maniscalco." - Lyndall Clipstone, author of Lakesedge
"A richly imagined world featuring a slow burn, sizzling romance and a conflict that crackles with magic." - Elle Cosimano, award-winning author of Seasons of the Storm
"A remarkably fresh debut, This Vicious Grace is an absolute delight from cover to cover. Its rich, transportive world sparkles on every page, and I was spirited away by Thiede’s beautifully rendered cast. I would follow Alessa and Dante anywhere, and can’t wait for their next adventure." - Ayana Gray, New York Times bestselling author of Beasts of Prey
"From the lush setting to dire stakes and whip-smart banter, This Vicious Grace is romantic, suspenseful, and utterly unforgettable." - Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of the Reign of the Fallen series
"Riveting, passionate, and full of high stakes danger." - Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"The perfect blend of humor and heart, This Vicious Grace is a high-stakes romp that brims with deadly magic, sparkling chemistry, and the deep yearning for connection in an alienating world. Prepare to fall head-over-heels with Alessa and Dante!" - Allison Saft, New York Times bestselling author of A Far Wilder Magic
"Remixing all the best parts of a dark fantasy and a romantic comedy, This Vicious Grace is a wonderfully fun time from start to finish, with lush, complex worldbuilding, intensely relatable characters, and relationships that are easy to root for." - Hannah Whitten, New York Times bestselling author of For The Wolf
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Alessa is the Finestra, blessed with saving the people of Saverio. As the chosen one, it is her responsibility to locate her magical counterpart, a Fonte. By absorbing and magnifying the Fonte's power, the Finestra hopes to defeat the fated purge. Alessa has spent years training for this moment, but there is a problem: she has killed three Fontes already. Her touch so deadly, she is running out of time and options. As Saverio begins to lose hope, Alessa hires Dante, a bodyguard with a rough reputation, to help keep her safe until she can find another partner. While her protector's secrets are uncovered, Alessa attempts to find herself and her place as the Finestra. Thiede's world-building is complex and unique, sharing a story full of magic, danger and love. There is little background explanation at the start however, which can leave readers stumbling until they find their footing in the narrative. The slow-burn romance between Alessa and Dante is a focal point, and their banter is fascinating. Each chapter begins with a proverb, a creative way to foreshadow upcoming events. Thiede creates an array of dynamic characters and a suspenseful story that will leave readers ready for the next installment. VERDICT An Italian-infused debut novel recommended for collections where fantasy is popular.—Aliza Mangefrida
A goddess-blessed young woman must find the perfect partner in order to protect her island from being devoured by demons.
In the beginning, Dea created humans, and Crollo wanted to cleanse the earth of them. The deities came to an agreement: Crollo will send scarabeo—insectlike demons—to attack the humans in a calamity known as the Divorando, but Dea will send protection in the form of a pair of divine saviors—a Fonte blessed with defensive magic and a Finestra whose responsibility it is to amplify that magic. Alessa, Saverio’s newest Finestra, craves to belong and to be touched. But her touch has already killed three Fontes, and her people are losing faith in her. When a rebellious preacher incites others to turn against Alessa and attempts are made to assassinate her, she hires Dante, a murderer, to be her bodyguard while she races to find another Fonte and save Saverio from the next Divorando. But she doesn’t expect that Dante may be exactly the one she needs in order to control her power—or that his dark secrets could lead to their demise. Though the elemental magic system is fairly standard, Thiede’s dramatic and fantastical debut is artfully colored with Italian-inspired lore. Determined yet unselfish, Alessa often questions her life and whether Saverio would be safer without her. With deeply cynical Dante, she explores self-love, passion, and belonging. The cast varies in skin tone.
Readers will eagerly await the sequel. (content warning) (Fantasy. 13-18)