Book Review: The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith – Hell hath no fury like a Librarian missing a book

Photo by Guillaume Henrotte on Unsplash

I had a lot of fun reading The Library of the Unwritten. It is a tale of a library in hell and the souls that live within it. Within a few pages I found myself being dragged along the hallways of Hell in the wake of a truly formidable librarian called Claire on the hunt for a missing book. A.J. Hackwith created Claire to be a protagonist that I never lost faith in. She radiates with knowledge and wit. She has a kind of wonderful sense of humour and omnipotence that wouldn’t feel out of place on a certain time lord. She is a fantastic character that I absolutely love.

Around her a band of characters grew that I felt a part of. I joined the misfits the hellish librarian collected and found a little home with them. As the plot evolved so did the characters. There is Leto, a young demon that I developed a little brother fondness of. The librarian’s assistant, Brevity who oozes with a sort of splendid 90’s bubble gum pop hippy-ness. She is the sort of woman I could see dragging you to Glastonbury and convincing you that a sparkly boob tube, platform flip flops and plant pot hats still look good on you in 2020. Hero is the sort of person that you secretly hate yourself for having a bit of a crush on at work. All the charm but possibly missing a spine. Completing the group is a demon called Andras who has seen it all, that is everything be it of Hellish, Heavenly or of Earthly making. He is the sage of the group who is a cross between twinkly grandpa and blood sucking vampire.

I spent a lot of the time that I was reading this book with a smile on my face thinking I could quite happily spend a lot more time in this world. As the plot took me as a reader to Hell, Heaven, Valhalla and other realms, I was just delighted. The worlds felt separate and each had their own glow. I particular loved the time in Valhalla and enjoyed the way Hackwith described the place. The images of the bearded men and the swishing, swilling, foaming mead became so easy for my mind to create as I read on.

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

This is a book for bibliophiles. The way Claire loved the books in her care felt contagious and had my fingers twitching to sort through my own library. There are a lot of little literary geeky moments in this novel. From quotes of famous authors being used by storytelling characters in the novel to greeting parts of fictitious worlds and places that readers of the classics would love to walk through. The plot kept surprising me. There was nothing in this book that felt stale or same-y which was wonderful. As much as it had a humour that made me think of The Hitchhiker’s Guide or the adventurous spirit of Doctor Who or even the camaraderie that the characters of Lord of the Rings shared, the story felt unique. It’s quite a skill to create something fresh in the fantasy genre.

The Library of the Unwritten is a great fantasy adventure. The only thing I could compare this to in terms of reading experience is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. It completely absorbed me in to the world and I really didn’t want it to come to an end. This is exactly how I felt about The Library of The Unwritten. I felt sad when I only had thirty pages left to read. It was about 4am and I got up to make myself some buttery toast and a hot sweet cup of tea then wrapped myself up in my duvet to gorge myself on the last bits of the novel. I was tired from pulling an all-nighter to finish reading but I was as content as a fat tabby snoozing in the sun.

I can’t wait to read more as this is promised to part of a series. I might even seek out some of the Romance that A.J. Hackwith writes under the name Ada Harper.

Overall this book is for people who love books, no don’t just love books but live them. It’s for adventurers, heroes, villains, sidekicks, misfits, damsels and every one in between. It is wickedly funny and fantastically thrilling. Grab yourself a copy and settle down into a comfy chair. Shhh…Quiet in the Library.

The Library of The Unwritten is by A.J. Hackwith and is published by Titan Books. Click here to go to the site to get yourself a copy.


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