Author: A. J. Hackwith
Publisher: Ace – Berkley Publishing Group
Publication date: October 1, 2019
Summary: The Unwritten Wing of the Library is located in Hell and is run by Claire Hadley. It’s her job to care for all the unwritten stories ever created and to track down any books that come to life in the form of one of its characters. When one Hero escapes the Library, it sets of a chain of events involving the Devil’s Bible, angels, other realms of the dead, and one of Claire’s own unwritten characters.
As a book lover and a writer, I absolutely loved this book. Not only did it offer an incredible adventure, but it also made me look at my own unfinished and unwritten stories in a completely different light. For a writer, I think it offers a good kick to get back to writing. After finishing this gorgeous book, of course, because it’s a real delight.
I loved the characters. I don’t think there was one I didn’t enjoy. They were well-crafted with motivations and histories that provided a rich tapestry for the story and drove the plot forward. I loved that they showed personal growth and I especially loved watching the bonds form between Claire, Hero, and Leto.
Claire was hands down my favorite. She’s a stern librarian who followed the rules and refused to bend. She’s protective and head strong with a serious sense of responsibility and duty. I loved that she always seemed to be put together, but was still deeply flawed because of it. Reading her growth was a beautiful thing. Hero, too, was exceptional. A character in an unwritten book come to life, he was much more than he appeared. I must say I enjoyed the development of his character the most. It wasn’t completely unexpected, but absolutely added another shade to the novel that deepened its richness. I was a little confused about Leto at first, but it just tied into his own confusion about himself. He tugged at my heartstrings the most and his character arc was simply beautiful.
I think the only thing I didn’t like about the characterizations was how human they were. Claire and Leto were deceased human souls, yet they felt like living, breathing people, which felt a little odd for dead people. They breathed. They ate. They slept. It was all very human, even when they were in the various realms of the dead. It was a little weird and kind of had me scratching my head. Otherwise, I enjoyed the characters and really felt like they came to life. Though I probably would have liked it better if they felt more like dead souls moving around in the world of the living.
Most of the story took place in one of several realms of the dead, like Hell and Valhalla, but a good chunk of it also took place among the living on Earth and in Heaven. I thought the world building was interesting and unique, especially when it came to the realms of the dead.
I loved that much of this book involved a romp through dead realms. It was interesting to see how they differed and how they were shaped by the mythologies that created them. They were each different and unique and offered intriguing takes on life after death.
As a reader, my favorite place was, of course, the Library. Located in Hell, it simply took up space there and I loved that Claire was able to call Lucifer silly names and get away with it. The Library itself was massive, packed full of books that had not been written. It’s an interesting concept, and I’m sure I’d be one of the demons frequenting it if I were there, but I really loved that it also still felt like a normal library.
Overall, the world building was absolutely lovely and provided a great backdrop to the story and characters. It was well-thought out and the movement between the realms made sense to the story.
I think my one complaint is that it took quite a bit for the story to really get going. The first half was a little slow, but it really picked up during the second half. I appreciate that Hackwith took the time to really introduce the reader to the Library and the characters, but I kind of forgot what the book was supposed to be about until about a quarter of the way through.
But that second half is really incredible. Most of the story is crammed into that last 50%, but, somehow, it never felt rushed. The story progressed at a natural pace and it was wonderful to see the development of each of the characters. Still, it was an interesting contrast to the much slower first half where very little seemed to occur.
I did love that the story involved books and the tracking down of one powerful book in particular. It kept the story moving and allowed movement through many places. I do think the story took a bit of a back seat to the character development, but the story still managed to move forward in a seemingly organic way.
This was a great book, perfect for readers and writer. The characters are engaging, the worlds are well-developed without being too much, and the story is interesting. I wish we could have encountered Lucifer, but, if the demon Claire knows is any indication of what beings in Hell are like, then maybe it’s a good thing he isn’t seen. I loved this book and I’m so glad this is the first in a series. I can’t wait to see what the second book has to offer.
How many cups of tea will you need?
5 cups will do very nicely
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Thank you so much to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for a free eARC. All opinions expressed are my own.