The Library of the Unwritten by AJ Hackwith
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication date: 11 February 2020
Page count: 448 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is a spoiler-free review.
You know those books that sound like they’re written just for you? That was The Library of the Unwritten for me — a story for book lovers that’s set in Hell’s library and featuring a snarky and slightly uptight librarian? Count me in. I ended up listening to the audiobook and ended up really enjoying it — it is equal parts madcap, heartfelt, and joyful.
Join the library and raise hell in the first book of a stunning new fantasy series, where books unfinished by their authors reside within the Unwritten Wing of the devil’s own library, and restless characters will emerge from out of their pages…
Every book left unfinished by its author is filed away in the Unwritten Wing, a neutral space in Hell presided over by Claire, its head librarian. Along with repairing and organizing books, her job consists of keeping an eye on restless stories whose characters risk materialising 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, in a chase that threatens to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell… and Earth.
There has been such a good run of books for book lovers lately, and The Library of the Unwritten is absolutely one of them. However, The this book has an incredibly fun twist — it is a bookish battle between exhausted and annoyed agents of Heaven and Hell. Hackwith does an amazing job of not only featuring familiar Christian figures and imagery, but also pulling in other mythologies and beliefs, such as Valhalla, and using them to explore faith, righteousness, and self-damnation. As silly as this book could be, it also has moments of deep introspection and emotion, and I adored it for that reason.
I absolutely loved the characters in The Library of the Unwritten. Claire, the Head Librarian, is just perfection and exactly the kind of character I love to read about. She’s snarky and a bit uptight, but is so clever, secretly compassionate, and has so much soul and depth — she’s such an amazing and wonderfully written character. I also adored Brevity, Claire’s assistant and polar opposite, and the two of them play so well off of each other. The chemistry between them, as well as others they meet along the way, was just wonderful.
I couldn’t recommend this book more highly, especially for fans of Good Omens and The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep. Quirky, heartfelt, and incredibly funny, The Library of the Unwritten is the perfect book to settle into with a cup of tea on a quiet evening.
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