THE LIBRARY OF THE UNWRITTEN by A. J. Hackwith.
ACE. p/b. £12.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
This is a library with a difference. In fact, it is in Hell. The Unwritten Wing is where unfinished stories are housed. When a partially-crafted tale gets out of hand it is the librarian’s job to reel them back in and repair unruly stories. Claire is one such librarian, Head Librarian in fact, and is at this moment chasing down a young protagonist. This is not the first character Claire has had to force back onto the pages she burst from, nor, by the look of things, will she be the last.
Another character has escaped from his book and this one has even escaped the confines of the library and made it into hell itself. And the worst part for Claire? The escaped character is a hero, no less. The worst kind of escapee. If that was not bad enough, a young demon arrives with a message from Lucifer.
Elsewhere Ramiel, border control agent at Heavens’ Gates, has a different problem on his hands. The fallen angel could yet be restored to his former place, if he can retrieve the missing pages from The Devil’s Bible before hell’s agents get to them.
The Library of the Unwritten is a brilliantly conceived debut following Claire and Ramiels’ storylines as their alternate point of view roles cross and eventually meet in a narrative of excellent pace, action and humour. Claire is granted the most page space while Ramiel is left as more of a secondary character, though his scenes are no less interesting giving hope that we will see more of him in future books from Hell’s Library. The story here is based on an excellent and unique concept about unfinished stories and the bond and burdens between an author and their key characters. The worldbuilding and the built-on dynamics between heaven and hell provide an easily accessible backdrop for this concept and Hackwith writes with confidence, driving the story ever forward with a good balance of exposition and action. An exciting debut to add to the best reads of 2019.