Strange Grace by Tessa Grafton is the story of a village blessed with seven years of prosperity and health. But in the seventh year, a young man (known as a “saint”) must spend the night in the Devil’s Forest being pursued by demons, dead animals, and the devil himself. Most never return. Of the few who have, all but one have left the village, consumed with nightmares.
Mairwen Grace is the daughter of the next-to-last saint and the village witch, and is studying to one day replace her mother. Unfortunately for her, Rhun Sayer, the boy she likes, is deemed by all of the villagers as the most likely to be the next saint. All but one, that is. Their friend Arthur Couch believes the honor should go to him.
But Mairwen is not looking forward to the ritual this year and not simply because Rhun may lose his life. Only three years have passed but things are going wrong in the village, something which has never happened before. Also, Maitwen believes something is wrong with the legend of how the ritual began and that the village has been lied to for years. Though it goes against tradition, she is determined to do what is necessary to discover the truth about the ritual and stop young men from dying.
Strange Grace is an excellent YA fantasy. The interactions of the three main characters are complex and there are surprises galore. If you like YA fantasy at all, this is the book to read.