Title: The Library of the Unwritten (Hell’s Library #1)
Publisher: Ace Books
Page Count: 384
Publication Date: 2019
Category/Genre: Fiction, Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic Realism
Good Reads Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.85)
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.0)
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
Librarians overseeing an entire library of unwritten books, ensuring that the stories keep at rest and don’t re-awaken with a yearning to come to life is an incredibly creative and unique spin on the library troupe.
Incidentally, as a writer that has yet to complete a novel but has notebooks full of ideas, characters, and other ‘lives’ this was exactly the story for me. Everything about the ‘unwritten’ (or unfinished) books resonated with me over and over again.
“Might be the unwritten have an idea or two on how their own story should go. Might be, they have reason to be angry. Pray they never wake up.”
One particular scene that really struck me was a duel between librarians, where words were wielded as actual weapons. Tossing appropriate quotations at your opponent’s head like missiles was brilliant.
“Books are knowledge weaponized.”
There was plenty of humor and it was written in a dark but whimsical tone, but there was a lot more insight into what it means to be human.
“How much easier it would be if everyone knew their role: the hero, the sidekick, the villain. Our books would be neater and our souls less frayed. But whether you have blood or ink, no one’s story is that simple.”
Themes of the found family, unconditional love, regrets, and finding acceptance and self-forgiving are littered throughout the entire story. We were reminded that people (or characters) are not always what they seem and their own backstories are what shape them into what is on often on the surface.
It was filled with a ragtag bunch of (often) snarky characters with fantastic dynamics, lots of humor, suspense, mystery, and a wonderful adventure with twists and turns.
I found that although it was the first in a series, it could easily be a stand-alone novel so don’t be afraid to dive in if you tend to avoid series.
I highly recommend this to any fans of adventure, biblical lore, mythology, and books about books.