Praise for THE UNWILLING“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
A penetrating tale of magic, faith and pride…
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.
This was one of those books that when I initially saw how long it was, I was kind of intimidated…I always feel like I can’t read longer books because I’ll never be able to finish them, and to be honest, they kind of fuel my already terrible anxiety, so I was a bit…worried.
However, that worry didn’t last long, because once I started reading it, I was hooked, and I have to tell you that the pages just flew by, and I found myself caught up in the magic and suspense that this book had to offer.
I loved reading this – it was so interesting and the pacing was definitely on point. I didn’t find myself getting bored at all while reading it, and you know how sometimes you find yourself skimming certain parts just to get through? That didn’t happen at all with The Unwilling. In fact, I read some parts more than once because the writing was so beautiful that I truly loved just reading it.
The characters in The Unwilling really jump off the page, too. Their development from the beginning of the novel to the end is definitely something special; a lot of times you see books with characters that aren’t written as well as they could be, and I’m so glad to say that the author really has a firm grasp on how to write beautiful, personality-filled characters that you kind of wish you knew in real life.
I also loved the attention to detail in this one. It wasn’t over the top or anything – in fact, I found it to be perfectly written in that area. The details included in this story had it bursting with life and made it such a joy to read.
I have to admit that I’ve read very few books that deal with the subject matter in this one, but I really found myself drawn to it. I’ll be exploring more books like this one in the future, and I cannot wait to read more from this author!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review – Thank you!
Kelly Braffet is the author of the novels The Unwilling, Save Yourself, Josie and Jack and Last Seen Leaving. Her writing has been published in The Fairy Tale Review, Post Road, and several anthologies. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University and currently lives in upstate New York with her husband, the author Owen King.