About the BookCategories: Historical Fantasy, Fantasy, Fiction, Epic Fantasy
The Unwilling is the story of Judah, a foundling born with a special gift and raised inside Highfall castle along with Gavin, the son and heir to Lord Elban’s vast empire. Judah and Gavin share an unnatural bond that is both the key to her survival…and possibly her undoing.
As Gavin is groomed for his future role, Judah comes to realize that she has no real position within the kingdom, in fact, no hope at all of ever traveling beyond its castle walls. Elban—a lord as mighty as he is cruel—has his own plans for her, for all of them. She is a mere pawn to him, and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
But outside the walls, in the starving, desperate city, a magus, a healer with his own secret power unlike anything Highfall has seen in years, is newly arrived from the provinces. He, too, has plans for the empire, and at the heart of those plans lies Judah… The girl who started life with no name and no history will soon uncover more to her story than she ever imagined.
An epic tale of greed and ambition, cruelty and love, this deeply immersive novel is about bowing to traditions and burning them down.
Praise for Braffet“Kelly Braffet is extraordinary… Familiar yet entirely unique, The Unwilling is the sort of story that seeps under your skin and pulses there, intimate and vibrant and alive. Fantasy at its most sublime.” —Erin Morgenstern, New York Times bestselling author of The Starless Sea and The Night Circus
“A juggernaut of an epic fantasy novel with ingenious, thrilling twists and turns. Put this on the shelf beside Naomi Novik and George R. R. Martin. Kelly Braffet is a marvel and I’ll read anything she writes.” —Kelly Link, MacArthur Genius Recipient and and of Get in Trouble
“Kelly Braffet’s The Unwilling is a viscerally powerful book. Full of complex and compelling characters, this is the story of the corruptions of power and the strength it takes to resist. This is an incredible, brilliant story.” —Kat Howard, author of Roses and Rot
“Gorgeously told, The Unwilling is at once a sweeping epic and an intimate portrait of being trapped in an oppressive regime. Meet your new favorite fantasy writer.” —Gwenda Bond, New York Times bestselling author of Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds
“Suspenseful, magical, wonderfully written, and never predictable, Braffet’s first foray into speculative fiction is an essential addition to all epic-fantasy collections.” —Booklist, STARRED Review
“Wow…The characters, the world, the magic and greed and politics and pain–all of it adds up to something wonderful. I love it.” —Ellen Datlow, award-winning editor and anthologist
This book is haunting. There’s no better way to put it. I read it slowly and thoroughly and even when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it. And this is a big volume of the book, so I mean it when I said I took my time. It’s almost a feat for me that I didn’t binge a book for once. But this isn’t something you can binge. It’s dark. It’s a lot. And it’s difficult. But, I mean that in all the best ways!
As I was reading this I was distinctly reminded of another favorite author: Stephen King. And then once I finally realized that Braffet is his daughter in law (I should really get better at reading the full blurb and/or the author profile) it all made sense. Much like when I read King I found myself taking my time reading this (as I’ve mentioned). But also, much like with King, there are scenes that are brutal and difficult to get through. Scenes that are extremely graphic and gruesome.
So, as you can probably tell by my review so far: this isn’t a happy book. The characters are all on the verge of being unlikeable. The plot is dark and full of sadists. You’re going to be uncomfortable while reading it. And all of this is why I love this book. This is going to be a very polarizing story and going into it blind will not be a good idea for everyone. Not everyone will appreciate the dark nuances and snail pace of the story. But for me they all worked together. Once I reached 200 pages I found myself saying, “I feel like nothing has happened.” Yet at the same time so much happened and I was so enamored with the story. I know this sounds weird, but this book is such an atmospheric read. It hovers on the line of multiple types of fantasy while also not seeming fantasy at all. And the heft of the book just added more. As you were reading you could literally feel how much of the story was left.
Well, based off of my rant you can see I have a lot of feelings for this book. And based off of that ending I hope that I can have more of this story to have feelings for (second book please?). In the meantime I guess I’ll just have to gorge myself on Braffet’s other works.
About the Author
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