“Unwritten” by Alicia J. Novo
Source: Author in exchange for an honest review
[Full disclosure: author & I have followed each other on bookstagram for a while now but mainly just liking the occasional picture. No real conversations]
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Books whisper to Beatrix Alba. But they aren’t the reason she has never fit in. Bullied at home and school, she keeps a secret—a power of violence and darkness.
When the spell that keeps her hidden fails, she’s catapulted into the Zweeshen, a realm where all tales live, and her dream of meeting her favorite characters comes true. But wishes are tricky, and behind its wonder and whimsy, the Zweeshen is under attack. A character is burning bookworlds in pursuit of a weapon to rule both stories and storytellers. To succeed, he needs a riddle in Beatrix’s keeping.
Now he’s hunting her down.
Joining forces with William, a cursed conjurer, Beatrix must face an enemy who knows her every weakness in a realm where witches play with time, Egyptian gods roam, and Regency heroines lead covert operations. And with her darkness as the only weapon, she may have to sacrifice everything to save a world that rejects her.
Unwritten is very much a story that’s been written for a true book lover. What book lover wouldn’t want to jump into the world of books? The story blends the old and the new well. In Zweeshen, the world is full of books. You’re likely to run into characters from beloved stories (Elizabeth & Darcy and Sherlock Holmes make an appearance). There’s also the entire world of Zweeshen that’s new and novel. So many nods to books and stories. If you’re an avid reader, you’ll catch the references. If you’re not as well read as you’d like to be, you’ll still follow along just fine.
I do think the world building was a bit lacking because it wasn’t explained enough for me. We’re introduced to the fantastical world that I’d love to explore but we’re given just a few details. I’m sure it was an effort to not infodump on the reader but as a result, I’m left wanting more and a bit unfulfilled. This is the start of a series so maybe things will be explored a bit more with future installments.
The story starts off running and doesn’t slow down. It’s paced well. We get a great blend of bookish love, mystery, puzzles, and adventure. What’s not to love with that?
A lot of effort was thrown in with world building and the storyline so I felt the characters were a bit lacking. We have a core group of characters (Beatrix, Emma, & William) that were developed well enough. The side characters/friends that were introduced felt a bit flat. I didn’t really feel like I knew them well enough.
I never thought I, the queen of no romance, would complain about the lack of romance but here we go. Beatrix and William worked well enough as people who begrudgingly worked together. I felt that. I didn’t quite get the intense dislike but I understood it? Over the course of the story, it shifts from not-exactly-friends-but-also-not-exactly-enemies to something more. BUT I didn’t buy it. I never felt the shift between them. I was told it shifted but didn’t feel it.
All in all, if you’re a true book worm at heart and looking for a fun adventure, Unwritten is sure to be a hit.