4 Reasons The Devouring Gray became one of my most disappointing reads of 2019! (ft. boring characters and my salty rants)

One of the saddest feelings a bookworm can experience is when a very anticipated release becomes on of your least favourite books.

And that’s precisely what happened with The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman. This was pitched as perfect for fans of Stranger Things & The Raven Boys. I LOVE BOTH OF THOSE THINGS PASSIONATELY. The dark mysterious wood vibe and a group of friends with messy characters and magic? My aesthetic!!

When the publisher sent me over a gorgeous physical ARC with pink sprayed edges and tarot cards, I was positive I was going to ADORE this book.

Thank you to Titan Books for sending me review copy. All opinions are my own.

On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes.

*SLAMS FISTS ON TABLE* here’s the tea y’all. I was not entertained at any point in this book – I was the epitome of the straight faced emoji. Here’s why.


These characters had the potential to be something intriguing but that was all wasted by constant POV jumping and underdeveloped personalities. It’s like the author wrote down four names and assigned an adjective to each of them and then thought “Okay. I’ve crafted my characters!”.

I couldn’t connect to any of the characters. I feel like we had quite a big cast and none of them seemed particularly fleshed out or real.

  • Violet – All I can remember about Violet is that she is skinny and all “sharp edges” or something? Honestly, she was sooo boring. Like her character was just being blunt and stupid.
  • Justin – this guy was trying to be Edgy and i didn’t hate him because that would suggest I gave one crap about this book or characters. Still, he was just so Eh. His whole tragic backstory – “ooh i don’t have powers” – was so eye-roll worthy.
  • Isaac – okay this is the only guy I’m remotely interested in…We didn’t get a lot of him in this book but I was like “Oh snap I want to read more about him!!” but it’s only a mild interest.
  • Harper – she’s so whiny and dramatic. I hated her whole story and motive?? It was so pathetic. “oh no my best friend left me!” i hate characters who are just so driven by their emotions they don’t even have one brain cell to look at the situation logically!!!
  • May – Idk she’s not like a main character but she was cool, I guess. She didn’t really have a character apart from reading tarot cards?? see, this is what i mean.
  • Harper’s mum – I forgot her name but I’m more interested in the original founders’ story than their children.

I feel like if we spent more time getting to know the characters instead of jumping around POV to get across a quite boring plot, I would have been able to connect or sympathise with the people in this book. But, we didn’t. And I feel like I could’ve loved some of the character’s backstory here, but the execution was sigh-inducing.


Without getting too specific, there’s this scene where Harper and Violet talk and Harper tells violet that these people were horrible to her. Then Violet’s like “Omg I can’t believe they would do that to you? and is all sympathetic and then refuses these peoples help because they hurt Harper, a girl she just met. and she decides so quickly like “oh you just told me a story that i don’t even know’s true but i’m so effing great, i’m going to immediately shut these people out of my life without knowing the full story but it’s cool because girls supporting girls!!” and i was like “binch?? you literally need those people’s help? why do you think you’re so bad ass when you’re literally useless on your own?? you’re trying to be cool and nice to some girl you just met?? are u okay??” honestly my whole reaction to this scene was

Image result for what?? meme

and then Violet ends up accepting their help anyways.

Also Harper and Justin are set up to have this Angsty romance (TM) and it frustrated me so much. At the point where I was introduced to this, I was already so bored that I desperately thought “maybe some romance will spice things up!” but, no. Idk what this was but it was trying so hard to be “I want to be with you but I don’t want to be with you” and it was so poorly done because the character’s motives for not wanting each other are so pathetic and dumb?? jhdgsf.


Image result for women bending down searching meme
me looking for the creepy atmosphere the blurb promised

This was compared to Stranger Things and honestly, how dare. Stranger Things is a creepy story that centres around themes of friendship and grief, whilst also incorporating terrifying monsters and a deliciously eerie backdrop. But this? HELL NAH. The only slight aspect that could relate to it is the monster/creature thing. The monster in this book had potential, but it went to waste. We hardly ever SEE the beast in this book and when the book does discuss it, it wasn’t terrifying in the least.

Look, creepy vibes are what I LOVE in books. The Raven Boys, Stranger Things, The Accident Season – these all have delightfully murderous atmospheres that are wonderfully crafted. But this? I didn’t even feel scared once. Or feel chills at anything. Like, this world just seems so grey (#puns) and boring. I acknowledge this is contemp fantasy so it relies on the real world with magical aspects, but the whole dark and sinister setting was not there for me.


I felt no adrenaline or excitement whilst reading. It was like “oh. this happened. thank u, next.” I feel like exciting things were happening but from the dry writing to the flat characters, I was stopped from even feeling a little bit of interest in the story.

In the end, this just wasn’t for me. Maybe I read this at the wrong time or the blurb mislead to me think I was in for an epic mystery when there was none of that, but I was never invested in the characters or plot. The writing seemed really stale and boring, nothing unique or intriguing. This book just did nothing for me and I genuinely didn’t enjoy my experience. 🙂

rep: two bisexual characters, a character with missing arm.
content/trigger warnings: loss of a loved one, murder, grief and trauma depictions, violence, abandonment, talk of rituals and self-sacrifice, and assault.

Name a recent release that did not live up to the hype for you? Have you ever read a book with a character that just didn’t make sense or annoyed you? Is The Devouring Gray on your TBR? Do you love Stranger Things?


36 thoughts on “4 Reasons The Devouring Gray became one of my most disappointing reads of 2019! (ft. boring characters and my salty rants)”

  1. Honestly, I want to cry right now. I’ve been so hyped for this book since I heard about it, because The Raven Boys and Stranger Things are literally unhealthy obsessions of mine, and a book being the combination of the two sounded like heaven on a page (or, really, more like purgatory on a page, cuz I was proper hyped for some creepy vibes). But from everything you’ve said in your review, I’m now super unsure about this. I mean, how dare they compare this to The Raven Boys if the characters are flat and to Stranger Things if the atmosphere is bland. That’s honestly blasphemous and I will actually riot if I end up feeling the same way about this book as you did. Hopefully I’ll end up enjoying it more though? I don’t know, but I really loved your review, and I hope your next read isn’t as disappointing as this one was.


    1. Ahhh I’m sorry if this review stressed you out!! Please don’t cry ❤ I honestly was very excited for this too so i get the hype you have for the book! Take my review with a pinch of salt! This is just my review of the book. People have said the characters are the strongest aspect of the book and amazing, and other reviews have also said the atmosphere is really vivid! I really hope you'll love this book because it seems that you're really looking forward to it ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m really hoping that this will just be a matter of different opinions and that I’ll end up loving this book, but I’m starting to get really worried, because I saw a few 3-star reviews of this, and then now you’ve posted a 1-star review, so it really seems like this is disappointing a lot of people. I’m still optimistic, but I do think I need to lower my expectations. Also it sucks so much that you were looking forward to this book and you didn’t end up enjoying it. I hate when that happens so much. Hopefully the same won’t be said for me when I finally get to this. Either way, whether I end up agreeing with you about this book or not, I really enjoyed your review and the way you articulated your thoughts so clearly. I’m looking forward to reading your next review, and hoping it will be for a book you enjoyed more than this one ❤️


  2. Well this sounds like a book I will be staying clear of. It’s a shame, because it is so highly anticipated, but I hate reading books with bland characters. It’s definitely a sign of poor writing for me personally. Did it come with a trigger warning, out of interest? I’ve been having discussions with authors recently about whether they’re important or not [I say yes, but several authors have complained that they’re ‘spoilers’ for the book. Like yeah, cool. I wouldn’t want the violent assault to be spoiled, jeez] ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dshfgdf I MEAN take my review with a slight pinch of salt because I know other people ahve REALLY liked this. I don’t think it DID come with a trigger warning (many books unfortuanetly don’t) but author includes content warnings on her website which is great! and yeah, even if they are remotely spoilers, trigger warnings are so helpful for so many people! sometimes you need to be in the right headspace for a book or be cautious of what it tackles and that’s totally okay!


  3. Honestly, I had no intentions on reading this book prior to the review and now. It can’t happen lol- I’m such a stickler about character development. Thank you for giving such amazing insight into the book and saving me from the pain of reading this! I feel bad for some people though because this was so highly anticipated.


  4. It…was on my TBR, but I’ve kind of lost interest now. I might still read it but I won’t buy it. I was so disappointed by Shatter Me. Everyone raves about it and it was just meh. Because of the hype I read the second book and it was still meh…I was so disappointed.


    1. Oh Shatter Me Gets better! The first book is REALLY bad and I am a fan of the series saying that. And the second book is…okay. Honestly book three was what made me fall in love with the series!! I’d say if you dislike Ignite Me then the series is not for you aha. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay I miiight read Ignite Me I just would rather read things I think will be better! But thanks for the advice! xx


  5. I’m so sorry you were so disappointed by this book, especially given that it was one of your most anticipated reads 😦 I personally had a good time reading it, Isaac was my favorite and I wished we got more of him, so I feel a little better knowing that you were a little bit interested by him anyway haha 🙂 I hope you’ll LOVE your next reads!! ❤ ❤


  6. why was this the best review I’ve ever read. this was so hilarious and entertaining I loved it so much Ilsa. I CANT GET OVER THE PINK SPRAYED EDGES !!! THE PINK. SPRAYED. EDGES. honestly that’s the one appealing thing about the book besides the cover. also, why is every main character Sharp Edges. why do authors like describing people as having Sharp Edges?? WHAT IS SHARP. is it their elbows?? knees?? what the frick


    1. Dude ur standards must be low if you think this is a good review. JK ILY AND THANK YOU. can we both go back to roasting each other bc idk how to handle compliments lolololol. IKR THE SPRAYED EDGES ARE !!! literally my fave thing. and ik! WTF DOES THAT MEAN?? have u ever seen someone who has sharp edges? no? i have not? idk i think authors visit this mystical land where they see people with sharp edges and we’re just mortals who have no idea what they mean.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. bro stop roasting yourself and accept the love 😔😔 JUST ACCEPT IT. I love sprayed edges so much and I totally want to do my own BUT I literally have no spray paint!! Big rip. I feel like doing painted edges would be too messy for me and I want less chance of mistake lmao.

        Authors all have sharp edges and do not realize that us mere mortal readers are completely soft on the outside. we need to educate them.


  7. A recent release that disappointed me even though I was so excited for it? The Fever King. It’s so heartbreaking when a book you anticipated ends up disappointing you like this 😦 This review was so fun to read! The Devouring Gray is on my TBR and I’m sure I’ll read it, but I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh no!!! That’s a shame lol. I was looking into this one, mostly because I was snagged by its comparison to Stranger Things (and apparently also The Raven Boys) which are two of my favorite things on this planet. But wow, now I’m a little hesitant. If the characters are nothing like The Raven Boys and the atmosphere is like neither of my favorite series, then what’s the point??? I’m so sorry this one didn’t click with you. Hopefully your next hyped up read actually meets expectations.


  9. Oh no! I’m sorry to see that this one was such a huge disappointment. I was excited for this but oof, I might push it very far down my tbr now. From what you’ve said, I don’t think ANY of the characters would be appealing to me. I hope your next read is more enjoyable, Ilsa! ❤


  10. “thank u next” ILSA I’M FALLING OVER HERE OMG ahsjkal. the sheer volume of salt in this review had me cracking.

    I admit that I was eyeing this book because it does sound different than most YA these days (soRRY i”m over spilling with salt for YA recently) but….yeah. Hype Googles (TM) activated. How dare it say “for the fans of” STRANGER THINGS? THE RAVEN CYCLE? hold dem horses.

    Also yes I do enjoy Stranger Things let’s stop talking about this book and just talk about Stranger Things season 3 forever shall we??????


  11. Okay I have this book on my tbr and now I feel conflicted after reading your review. I still want to read this but then I also don’t want to?? Oh well, if my library has a copy of this (which is highly arguable) I’ll just borrow it from there.

    Noice review! 😆


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