Book review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Title: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: 8 October 2019

Genre: Dystopian | Young adult

Page extent: 416 pages

Goodreads blurb: A speculative thriller in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power. Optioned by Universal and Elizabeth Banks to be a major motion picture!

“A visceral, darkly haunting fever dream of a novel and an absolute page-turner. Liggett’s deeply suspenseful book brilliantly explores the high cost of a misogynistic world that denies women power and does it with a heart-in-your-throat, action-driven story that’s equal parts horror-laden fairy tale, survival story, romance, and resistance manifesto. I couldn’t stop reading.” – Libba Bray, New York Times bestselling author

Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between. 


The Grace Year is another chillingly terrifying feminist novel in the likes of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Natural Way of Things. With an achingly familiar message of strength and resilience, The Grace Year adds its own spin to the classic feminist tale of resistance.

The Grace Year begins with main character Tierney, on the eve of her Grace Year. In order to remove the evil magic that so tempts men, girls on the cusp of womanhood are sent to an encampment in the wilds to last a year. There, strange occurrences happen as their magic arises and burns out, and nobody knows who will last the year as poachers try to hunt them, selling their parts back to the county.

The Grace Year is a familiar yet new story about finding the strength to resist. It’s a tale about trust and forgiveness. Although we open in the county with their strict control of the women, the majority of the book is set in the encampment. The setting is so beautiful and made for such a haunting and creepy atmosphere throughout. With ghostly stories, there was always an edge to everything, as if we didn’t quite understand what was true and what wasn’t (which we really don’t). I loved the uncertainty – the mysterious atmosphere and magic of The Grace Year affected Tierney so much that it was hard to know what was real and what wasn’t. I loved that at the end of the day, the most danger came from the girls themselves as opposed to the men of the county, or the poachers. So caught up with the power granted to them during the year, they become mad with the power, the last sliver of ‘freedom’ before they are forced into marriage or work.

It is such a dark and brutal journey, one which I think really debates the definition of a happy ever after. I loved some of the secondary characters – the way Tierney’s mother comes to life throughout the book is wonderful, and I loved the slow reveal of Ryker. There are many twists and turns, some utterly shocking which I never saw coming but which are just so clear afterwards! I feel like this is a book that will shine even more in a reread, with so much foreshadowing more noticeable.

Although a dark novel, there are moments of hope and joy. There is fierce love and friendship and ultimately, there is such resilience and strength in these characters. This was a brilliant read, and one which follows its predecessors shoes very well!

Paws out,
Rach + Draco

One thought on “Book review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

  1. […] This book only released a few weeks ago, and brings its own unique perspective to feminist dystopia, in the style of books like The Handmaids Tale, or The Natural Way of Things. Set in another creepy forest, where masked killers wait to pick off girls if they escape, a group of girls must live out a year. The insidious way the girls slowly turn on each other is just incredible, and perfectly matches the creepy atmosphere of the forest. Full review here! […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s