The Library of the Unwritten
November 5, 2019 12:36 PM - by A. J. Hackwith - Subscribe

In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren't finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.

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. (Description from Goodreads)
posted by WidgetAlley (2 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was super disappointed in this one -- not because it's an awful book but just because it really did not follow through with the promise of its premise. The plot kept introducing elements that begged to be built out and explored more, but it just didn't happen. There was nowhere near enough coherent worldbuilding to support the cool factor (Hell? Demons? The Codex Gigas? The city of Mdina? Are you kidding me, heck yes!!) And without it all the really awesome elements felt more like name-dropping than anything else. Similarly, the timeline of the book was so short that none of the emotional turmoil or payoffs felt real.

Really cool premise, not served well by shallow writing. Not sure if I'll bother with the sequels.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:28 AM on November 6, 2019

This only now appeared as available as an ebook at my library. I agree the premise is solidly attractive. I also agree there was so much introduced but not followed-up on. It was a fun read, to be sure, but it was a bit of a clunky read.

I feel like the book could have easily been divided into three books, and each book used to expand and flesh-out the characters and their relationships. I did like the quotes from the librarians that began each chapter.

I’ll definitely take a look at the next two books if/when they become available to me.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:37 PM on April 18, 2023

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