The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith

The title of the book was enough to catch my attention - a book about a place where unwritten stories go! After reading through a few pages of the preview, I knew it was perfect for me!

The blurb reads:
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.

I loved the characters! Claire, the head librarian, a perfect embodiment of a saying that being kind doesn't always mean being gentle. Brevity, a former muse, a happy-go-lucky assistant to the head librarian. Ramiel, an angel, fallen from grace, but given a chance for making his way back into the elite. Hero, a hero straight out of his unwritten story. Leto, a teenage demon, afraid of almost everything. Andras, former Duke of Hell, now in charge of the Arcane wing of the library.
Each of them is well imagined, and their drives, agendas, and dynamic are a perfect recipe for an engaging plot.

A few words about the setting: the Unwritten Wing may be in Hell, but it sure isn't a part of it. Claire will take every opportunity to get this point across with a healthy dose of sarcasm towards the ruler, Lucifer, by calling him His Crankiness (among other things).

What starts as a simple enough retrieval operation, quickly turns into a race against the burning out ghostlight, two determined angels, and Hellhounds. There are plot twists aplenty, and the action is swift, which should satisfy a lot of fantasy fans.
The journey will take the reader to Hell, Heaven, Earth, and a few other locations. I found them brilliantly depicted - each of the realms has their unique character and added something new to the story.

This book has everything - heroes, villains, angels, demons, chases across realms, sacrifice, duels, labyrinths, and a good dose of humour. I couldn't name just one favourite moment, but I dearly enjoyed Ramiel's arc - from a character I wasn't convinced by, he became my favourite.

A.J. Hackwith makes writing look effortless. Her imagination must've worked overtime to create these vibrant worlds and their inhabitants. She touches on challenging subjects like suicide and self-sacrifice with care and tact. This is also the only story I came across, which portrays a proper reaction to anxiety and panic attack by a bystander.

In this book about unfinished books, I've found everything I look for in a fantasy - interesting, three-dimensional characters with well-thought development, an engaging plot with surprising twists, and LGBTQ elements that are part of the characters but don't define them.

 

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The Library of the Unwritten on Goodreads

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