Sunday, September 1, 2019

Summer Reading 2019 The Unwritten Library


Claire is the Head Librarian in charge of the Unwritten Wing. In Hell. Yes, all stories not finished by their authors are shelved in a neutral space in Hell, off-limits to the various factions always striving for dominance under "His Crankiness," as Claire calls Lucifer. The main job of the librarian is to keep the characters from manifesting as a physical presence and tracking down their authors, demanding to be completed. "There's nothing stronger than an unwritten book's fascination with its author." But Claire's latest retrieval job goes pear-shaped when a fallen angel decides that she and her companions have the Devil's Bible. Can they all survive long enough to retrieve the missing Hero, solve the mystery of this ancient volume all the demons and angels are after, and make it back to the library?

The story is intriguing and the setting puts a unique spin on what the afterlife might be like. In this world, "We all get the afterlife our soul requires." Various realms of the afterlife like Valhalla or ancient Egyptian planes all exist, along with a Heaven managed by Uriel in the Creator's name, and the darker realm of "His Grouchiness."  Claire wound up in Hell, although we aren't told the reasons behind that determination. Her assistant is a former muse named Brevity, and details on her backstory are even sketchier than Claire's - which gives readers good reasons to check out the next book in the series. Other companions include the demon courier Leto, the escapee from the unwritten book, and Andras the Curator of the Arcane Wing of the Library.

Bits and pieces of each character's past are woven into their interactions with each other, building the tension as readers begin to see connections between what is happening and previous choices and actions. Scenes such as a duel between bards in Valhalla are captivating, and there are lots of juicy quotable bits such as "Only books died in Hell. Everyone else had to live with their choices." (Doesn't that need to be on a t-shirt or coffee mug?) By the end of this adventure there are alliances, betrayals (what else can you expect in Hell), and some changes within the power structure of the afterlife. And the characters are poised to begin the next book - as long as it doesn't wind up on the shelves in the Unwritten Wing.

Highly recommended for YA and adult readers who enjoy stories that deal with the power of books and words, adventures through various realms, and tough librarians. I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. All quotes are from that ARC and may be subject to change before final publication.

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