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Fantasy,  Review,  YA

Unwritten (The Zweeshen Chronicles #1) by Alicia J. Novo (#BookReview) // A beautiful, dark, intricate YA fantasy

Unwritten (The Zweeshen Chronicles #1) by Alicia J. Novo

Expected publication : May 8th 2021

Publisher : INtense Publications

Genre : YA / Fantasy

Pages : 324

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Books whisper to Beatrix Alba. But they aren’t the reason she has never fit in. Bullied at home and school, she keeps a secret—a power of violence and darkness.

When the spell that keeps her hidden fails, she’s catapulted into the Zweeshen, a realm where all tales live, and her dream of meeting her favorite characters comes true. But wishes are tricky, and behind its wonder and whimsy, the Zweeshen is under attack. A character is burning bookworlds in pursuit of a weapon to rule both stories and storytellers. To succeed, he needs a riddle in Beatrix’s keeping.

Now he’s hunting her down.

Joining forces with William, a cursed conjurer, Beatrix must face an enemy who knows her every weakness in a realm where witches play with time, Egyptian gods roam, and Regency heroines lead covert operations. And with her darkness as the only weapon, she may have to sacrifice everything to save a world that rejects her.

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Praise for UNWRITTEN

“Fascinating and magic-filled, the fantasy novel Unwritten promises adventure right up to its final page.” — Foreword Reviews.

“Novo’s well-crafted story will delight and engage readers … A satisfying and socially relevant story about acceptance and sacrifice.” — Kirkus Reviews.

“Wholly original and wondrously imaginative…” — Reader’s Favorite Reviews (5 Stars)

*** Disclaimer : I received e-copy of this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. ***

Unwritten was fantastic YA dark fantasy, a perfect opening book in The Zweeshen Chronicles that revolved around Beatrix Alba trying solve the riddle her mother left behind and find a place she belonged. It was about belongingness, abandonment issue, courage, believing in yourself, gift, power, secrets, betrayal, friendship, and love.

Writing was mesmerising and descriptive. Author didn’t rush into things whether it was characters and their development, plot or the world and long chapters made it steady paced. It was written in third person narrative from Beatrix’s POV.

Plot was much more complex than I expected. It started with Beatrix struggling with many issues in her life- bully in school, people talked behind her back, mother who died, father who hated her, and grandfather dying. To make thing worse, spell that kept her magic of power and violence failed on death of her grandfather. What gave her hope was a box of her grandfather that contained weird objects and letter to her from her mother filled with riddle that opened the gates to biblioworld and one of its story realm Zweeshen.

She loved books and could hear their whispers all her life, entering world of books that’s not just story but real in biblioworld and characters she loved, not just characters but real people made her all exciting. But upon her arrival to Zweeshen she discovered many things about herself and her mother and the world was not how she was expecting. The story worlds were under attack the villain was coming to destroy Zweeshen and also her.

It was interesting to find out what her mother’s letter was about, what it was going to reveal at the end, what she would discover about herself and her mother, why villain wanted to kill her, could she save herself and the world from villain’s sinister plan, and what awaits at the end of the journey.

All characters were flawed and realistic. There were so many secondary characters some lovely, some mysterious and some with masked face that revealed their true colour at right time making story even more interesting. They all held importance and played their role well in moving forward Beatrix’s story.

I rooted for Beatrix from the beginning. She was brave, courageous, determined, stubborn and unrelenting but she was reckless, lacked self-confidence, and believed her gift was curse, a monster, and feared in wielding it.

What she was going through on earth and then in Zweeshen made my heart ache for her. Her vulnerability and the way she was handling it gave her character more depth. I felt all her emotions and I could understand her dilemma. She wouldn’t be flawed if she didn’t make me disagree with some of her action and behaviour and her denial mode. I do feel sometimes she wasn’t taking the gravity of William’s oath seriously or what was happening to her and how it affected to others.

I loved how as story progressed, she learned so many things about herself, her power, and how she started considering it as gift than a curse and learned to wield it, control it and learned to believe in herself, accept all help she could get and appreciated it.

What I loved most about her was even after all she went though, all that she discovered, her heart was at right place and she didn’t let everything affect her conscience.

William was mysterious, broody, grumpy, with scowl stamped on his face. He didn’t make best first impression and I couldn’t figure out reason behind it until it was revealed. As story progressed along with Beatrix we know more about him and as the pages turned he grew on me and I started to like him more and more. His past was sad. His fear was genuine. I loved him for sticking around Beatrix and helping in every possible way and for what he did for her till the end.

Emma was my most favourite. Can you imagine fiery, wild, cute, lovely, smart, sensible, and blunt eleven years old girl whose hair changed colours and texture as per her mood. That was Emma. She gave light touch to this gloomy dark world and brought Beatrix’s adventure to life. I also loved Nera, Jane, and some other characters.

World was absolutely brilliant. It was intricate, dark, gloomy and filled with magic. I enjoyed reading about bibloworld, Zweeshan and its rules, why they named earth “Pangea”, how the world worked, how characters of stories lived, how one could travel between stories or realms, about pageturners, librarian, council of different guilds (genres) and its politics, wordrider, rebels, forbidden territory, myths, legends, Goddess and her power, technology… Everything was mind-blowing. Even after reading so much about this unique world, I have a feeling there is still so much to know and discover. I made mistake trying to know everything in the beginning. This world was revealed itself as the story progressed so I advise just go with the flow than thinking so hard about it.

Romance was good not the centre of the story which I liked but I could see something happening between William and Beatrix from the beginning and I enjoyed reading their dislike turning into friendship to love. I liked how synched they both were and could understand each other so well once they got over their scuffle. The way eye roll moment of kissing in middle of fight was written made smile. For once, I loved that cliché.

All twist and turns were well written. I couldn’t guess the next step, how characters were going to decode next clue of the riddle or what was going to happen next. Climax was surprising. I couldn’t have guessed the real face of the villain. Everything from Climax to end was interesting and adrenaline filled. It gave some answers and yet left some questions unanswered that I hope to discover in next books. End was happy and sad both at the same time with a minor cliff hanger.

Overall, Unwritten was beautiful, dark, intricate, steady paced and well written YA fantasy. I recommend this book to fantasy readers who prefer to have detailed world without info dump and like to take their time in the immersive world.

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

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