I have been in love with the idea of this book since I first saw the cover on Goodreads. It is so beautifully spooky, and I haven’t read a book about witches in years. I finally finished reading this last Friday and I am honestly kind of confused about how I feel toward the book.
Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all?
Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil’s Forest.
Only this year, the Slaughter Moon has risen early.
Bound by duty, secrets, and the love they share for one another, Mairwen, a spirited witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a restless outcast, will each have a role to play as the devil demands a body to fill the bargain. But the devil these friends find is not the one they expect, and the lies they uncover will turn their town—and their hearts—inside out.
This is the perfect Halloween read. It is spooky, dark, witchy, suspenseful, and oh so very good. I loved the characters and the overall mood of the book. The backstory of the sacrifice and the Devil’s Forest was intriguing and really added to the darkness of the book.
Arthur, Mair, and Rhun are complex characters. Individually, they are all very different. Arthur is spiteful and angry, Mair is fiercely independent, and Rhun is selfless and heroic. Despite these differences, these three characters love each other and will do anything for the others, including challenging the Devil. Their love for each other goes beyond friendship, and I really enjoyed reading this aspect of the book. I can’t remember any other book I’ve read in the YA world like this.
The mood of the entire book was so darkly enchanting. I love books that incorporate folklore into the plot, both real and fictional. The people of Three Graces believe in a story about a young witch falling in love with the Devil of the forest. She gives him her heart and he gives her people safety from drought, famine, plague, and death in exchange for a sacrifice of the village’s best boy. Every seven years the village looks for the signs of a Slaughter Moon, and the best young man their village has to offer spends the night being chased by the Devil in his forest.
This backstory is so twisted and spooky, and I wanted to quickly uncover the secrets the summary promises us. However, I found the first 100-ish pages of the book to be dull. Everything was still spooky and the characters were great, but it didn’t feel like there was much development beyond what was told in the first part or in the summary. Once I got past that though, the book was really great. Secrets started to come out, our characters began to change (some in more obvious ways than others, no spoilers), and the spookiness levels spiked.
In the end, I loved this book for the beautifully dark writing, characters, backstory, and mood. Some points in the plot moved along slowly, but the climax the events build up toward are worth the wait. It’s been a few days since I’ve read the book and I find myself still thinking about it, which I think says more about it than anything else. You can read this book anytime of year, but I think the experience would be even better in the fall or in the middle of a forest, if you’re feeling brave.