Author: Tracy Hickman & Laura Hickman
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication date: July 1st 2014
Buy at: BookDepository
Unwept — the beginning of a spellbinding new trilogy by Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman bestselling co-creators of Dragonlance and Ravenloft
Gamin, Maine, is a remote seaside town where everyone seems to know Ellis Harkington better than she knows herself—but she doesn’t remember any of them.
Unknown events have robbed Ellis of her memory. Concerned individuals, who claim to be friends and loved ones, insist that she simply needs to recuperate, and that her memories may return in time. But, for her own sake—so they claim—they refuse to divulge what has brought her to this state.
Ellis finds herself adrift in a town of ominous mysteries, cryptic hints, and disturbingly familiar strangers. The Nightbirds, a clique of fashionable young men and women, claim her as one of their own, but who can she truly trust? And what of the phantom suitor who visits her in her dreams? Is he a memory, a figment of her imagination, or a living nightmare beyond rational explanation?
Only her lost past holds the answers she seeks—if she can uncover its secrets before she falls prey to an unearthly killer.
Well, this was disappointing. Particularly so when it has a fantastic start.
Unwept begins when Ellis Harkington wakes up from a nightmare where she is buried alive. And where is she? In a moving train with a nurse and a baby she has never seen before, and no memory of anything but her name. The nurse tells her Ellis is very ill and will be taken care of by her uncle/doctor whom she will see as soon as the train stops. And right enough, the people in the train station are quite worried about her health. But the doctor is not her uncle, after all, and the way some of those people are looking at her makes Ellis feel like something is amiss.
Sadly, it’s only in the last quarter of the book that we are told what is going on in the town of Gamin. Yes, you read it right. The first 200 and so pages serve for not more than setting the scene and hinting at abnormality. This would be fairly alright in most beginnings of series, as there would be space to develop characters and backgrounds, but here it was nothing but disheartening. After all, the “hints” were all over the place and made little to no sense, there was very little worldbuilding (a necessary part in a story where the world is deemed to be upside down), the suspense was poorly handled and not maintainable, and the characters were not just bland but their actions were beyond frustrating.
In the very beginning, the doctor says he will meet Ellis the next day. He does not. He actually takes quite a while to go see a patient that he claims to be worried about, which doesn’t seem like a doctorly thing to do. Her “friends” are petulant, childish, and pay no heed to Ellis’s illness which they apparently know of. On the other hand, Ellis herself often does what others tell her to, even though she knows she oughtn’t, because she “is sick and probably overreacting”. I’m terribly sorry, but if a person is ill, the best way to get better is by resting, not being forced to go to parties. Besides, thinking this once or twice is alright, much more and it becomes victim blaming.
These problems aside, it must be said that the answers offered by Unwept at the end of the story (or the few ones that exist) are original and interesting. But they were given far too late into the story, when my interest in the outcome had more than wavered.
Despite a good prose, the early dismissal of love triangles, and the cliffhanger the book ends on – all of which I liked -, I do doubt I will continue reading The Nightbirds series. Unwept is not a terrible book and can keep you turning the page, but it just isn’t the right book for me.
The book in a quote
“Your truth! Merrick’s truth! What about my truth!”