Grace and Fury

320p. Little, Brown. Jul. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316471411. POP
Gr 9 Up— From a pageant of nine, Serina is selected to go to the capital city of Bellaqua to compete to become a Grace. Graces are the most beautiful women of Lanos, chosen to adorn the palace and produce children for the Superior and now the Heir. Serina has studied for this her entire life, while her sister Nomi has served their family and will continue as her sister's handmaiden. Elaborate descriptions of decor and dress set the scene for the twists that follow. When Nomi is selected as a Grace instead of Serina, the momentum builds. Nomi is thrust into a role for which she is unprepared; worse, Serina is accused of reading a book Nomi stole from the palazzo library. For women, reading is a capital offense, and Serina is banished to a ruined island where inmates must endure gladiator-style fights to survive. The sisters' parallel stories are told in alternating chapters as they suffer their separate forms of bondage. Banghart's prose is florid and engaging, and she expands the drama explosively: Nomi becomes a pawn in a deadly plot while Serina begins to build a coalition among the prisoners. A final twist may bring the sisters back together but under far more dangerous circumstances. Fans of "The Hunger Games" will appreciate the similar plotting in this first installment of a planned duology.
VERDICT An easy hand-sell that will find a willing audience in those who have enjoyed Dhonielle Clayton's The Belles and Stephanie Garber's Caraval .

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