\Title: The Library of the Unwritten
Author: A. J. Hackwith
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Ace Books
Notable Notables: A book about stories, diverse, LGBTQA+ characters
Recommended Readers: Those wanting a dash of mythology to go along with their adventure
Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review—and sorry it’s a tad bit late.
I absolutely love any kind of content about angels, demons, heaven, hell, and the mortals trapped between them. I love written works that are themselves tributes to stories and storytelling. The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith boasted all of the above, with an emphasis on unwritten stories and characters by unwritten authors. While I was overall more in love with the idea of this book than I was with the actual execution, there is still a fair amount of good I’d like to highlight with this review.
Our story begins with finding Claire Hadley as the current Head Librarian of Hell’s Unwritten Wing, one of the few neutral spaces in Hell, where it’s Claire’s job to repair and monitor all unwritten books. When a Hero awakens from one of the books and escapes to the mortal world to meet his Author, Claire leaves in pursuit along with her assistant Brevity and a nervous teenage demon, Leto, who seems more human than he ought to. In pursuit of the character and his book, the group runs afoul of fallen angel and Watcher Ramiel, who accuses them of having pages of the elusive Devil’s Bible. Claire and her motley crew, including the Hero and an old demon Arcanist named Andras, must locate the pages and return them to the library before any other angels or demons can get ahold of them—or risk a cosmic war and power imbalance between the realms.
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Title: Shadow of the Exile
Author: Mitchell Hogan
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 491
Notable Notables: Demon protagonist, driven female character
Recommended Readers: Fans of epic fantasy
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC of Shadow of the Exile by Mitchell Hogan in exchange for an honest review. And sorry this wasn’t sooner!
Tarrik Nal-Valim, a demon of the 37th order, is summoned from his exile in the Abyssal Realms to human lands by sorceress Serenity “Ren” Branwen. Ren is the daughter of Tarrik’s former master, who he’d come to trust, but now it appears he revealed all of Tarrik’s secrets for his daughter to enslave him once again to do her bidding. Ren instantly commands Tarrik to protect her from her enemies, while keeping her own goals shrouded in secrecy.
Tarrik hates Ren for enslaving him and vows to get free of her bindings as soon as he can, but his urgency grows when he discovers she’s part of the Nine, a group of deranged sorcerers who have been broken and compelled to free the worst and most powerful demon who ever lived, Samal. If Samal is freed, the human realm will be wiped out and the Abyssal Realms enslaved to his will, and Tarrik finds himself facing increasingly difficult choices, especially when Ren’s path appears to deviate from this goal.
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Title: The Ninth Circle, Book One: Fire
Author: C. A. Harland
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Version: ARC – eBook via NetGalley
Notable Notables: Loads of Action Scenes, Emphasis on Family, No Romance
Recommended Readers: Fans of Supernatural and monster-hunting tales
Well. This whole thing was eerily familiar.
You may see people compare this book to Supernatural but with women, and honestly, they’re not wrong. Filling the role of Dean Winchester is Tala Morgenstern, a demon hunter who is all about the business, about family, who’s got a foul mouth, a chip on her shoulder, and a sacrificial streak. Sam Winchester is played by Aiva Morgenstern, the sister who tried to get out of the business and lead a normal life, who gets dragged back in after the third sister, Hartley (Castiel? An OC?), goes missing. Like Sam, Aiva’s secretive, unsure of herself, often gets in over her head, and tries to steer Tala’s morality toward something more to Aiva’s liking. The sisters even have an old family friend, a once-hunter, to help guide them whenever they need help, like Bobby does for the Winchesters.
Normally, I might have given this book a pass, but I found a free copy of it on NetGalley, and I do like stories of demons as antagonists. But those stories are a dime a dozen and tend to blend together in terms of unoriginality. However, The Ninth Circle, Book 1: Fire seemed to offer an interesting twist: demons engaged in organized crime, and if that ain’t my speed, I don’t know what is.
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