87 points, 4 ½ stars
In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.
Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.
But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.
“For one who calls me ‘book’ when you’re cranky, you’re affording me an uncharacteristic amount of humanity.”
I really enjoyed reading The Library of the Unwritten. It had a great cast of characters, an amazingly magical library, and a quest. Plus it was sort of urban fantasy, though they bounce between Hell, Earth, and other places a bit more than I normally see in the genre. It just really worked for me.
The characters a mix of broken. My favourite kind of characters. Each of them have a past that haunts them, or a lack of a past that haunts them. None of them are close to being healed. And some of them, maybe all of them, may be hiding secrets of their own. It takes a while to unfold, all this pain and drama. But it was worth it. And each one of them, in their own ways, is just trying to find someplace to belong. Just rip my heart out, why don’t you?
The worldbuilding was intriguing. It isn’t the first magical library I’ve ever read about. But it is probably the first one in hell, full of books that have yet to be written. Plus there is the inherent angels vs demons, heaven vs hell dynamic written in when you place a library in hell. And there are also other cultures, too, which adds a certain something special.
The book has a lot going for it. But what I liked the most is that books can take the form of one of their characters. Which…hell yeah! Book people are people too! You can’t ever convince me otherwise. Who doesn’t want to believe that their book friends can be their real friends, too?
I thought the story was a bit basic, overall, but it was a really good start to a series. It is the foundation upon which everything else is going to come back to. And I’m okay with that. I can’t expect much more out of a book about books and a magical library, currently. It has to start somewhere.
Wonder where the series will take me next.
I received this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to A.J. Hackwith, Ace, and Edelweiss for providing the opportunity to review this copy.