In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.
Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing—a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters 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 when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell … and Earth.
(From the book blurb)
When I read the blurb, I knew straightaway I needed to read the book. One of my favourite books -The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov- has a famous line: Manuscripts don’t burn. The premise of this first book in a new fantasy series echoed Bulgakov’s words- somewhere, in a place not governed by earthly laws of logic or order, there exists a library of stories that might or might not ever find their way into existence…
Claire Hadley is the Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing (there is also another wing called Arcane with its own head supervisor). She has been doing her job for three decades ever since her predecessor disappeared mysteriously. On surface, Claire appears to be quite stern, even ruthless. In order to make a restless book character return to its unwritten story, she sometimes has to damage it with surgical precision and zero hesitation.
When Leto, a nervous teenage demon of enthropy, suffering from a strange case of amnesia, appears in the library with an order to track an escaped book character who has already made his way to the Earth, Claire knows she has no time to waste. Leto and Claire are given day passes, while Brevity (isn’t it a fantastic name for a story like this?), Claire’s apprentice and assistant, can leave and come back to the Library in a much more flexible manner. They succeed in tracking the fugitive, who they decide to call simply Hero, but on their way back things get complicated. A fallen angel Ramiel, who has been granted a chance to enter the Heaven Gates again if he tracks a dark and dangerous artefact in the shape of a book, confronts and accuses them of being in the possessession of the object he is searching for. Although Claire and Leto escape, on their return to the Library, Claire launches her own investigation and realises she must retrieve the book, otherwise the world of Mortals might be destroyed in the war between Heaven and Hell. To do that, she must enlist the help of the Head of the Arcane Wing, her former mentor.
Apart from a very original premise and gripping plot, the book has a great character cast. Claire Hadley, the Librarian, is very humane and willing (and able) to see the best in everybody she meets. In this world, souls judge themselves, so you will wonder why she ended up punishing herself by deciding she needed to pay for her debts by becoming a librarian in Hell ( as a tenant, not a servant- the Library is located in Hell, but is not a part of it). You’ve got to admire the wit of the author who gave her apprentice such a wonderful name – Brevity. Brevity is a former muse and is charming beyond any description. There’s a lot more to Hero than just a pretty face and bravado. Leto…you have to earn his trust- will Claire succeed in proving herself to this half-demon/half-sulky teenager with a well-developed sense of justice and an irritating habit of asking too many questions?
There are twists and turns, traps and betrayals to watch out for. I loved the characters’ brief soujourn in Valhalla and Claire’s brilliant duel with the local bard, but there are other realms that get explored in this imaginative book. This is an adventure story and a quest, so it will be appreciated by fans of fantasy and paranormal fiction. The twist at the end promises an interesting sequel, where I hope we’ll get to know what is hidden in Claire’s past as well as finding out more about the Library itself.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Ace (Penguin Publishing Group) for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
- Are you a fan of fantasy and paranormal?
- Have you read The Library of the Unwritten or is it on your tbr? Did you like it? What did you think of the characters and the plot?