Review of “Unwept” by Tracy and Laura Hickman


UnweptUnwept (The Nightbirds #1) by Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman, to be published on July 1, 2014, by Tor Books.

Book Page (with excerpt). Authors. Goodreads. Amazon. Book Depository.

Source: Netgalley. I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect the tone and content of my review.

Gamin, Maine, is a remote seaside town where everyone seems to know Ellis Harkington better than she knows herself—but she doesn’t remember any of them. Unknown events have robbed Ellis of her memory. Concerned individuals, who purport to be her friends and loved ones, insist that she simply needs to recuperate, that her memories may return in time, but refuse to divulge what has brought her to this state. For her own sake, so they say.

Ellis finds herself adrift in a town of ominous mysteries, cryptic hints, and disturbingly familiar strangers. The Nightbirds, a clique of fashionable young men and women, claim her as one of their own, but who among them can she truly trust? And what of the phantom suitor who visits her in her dreams? Is he a memory, a figment of her imagination, or a living nightmare beyond rational explanation?

Only her lost past hold the answers she seeks—if she can uncover its secrets before she fall prey to an unearthly killer. (Goodreads)


My rating: 3/5.

My foremost feeling while reading this novel was confusion, a deep and abiding sense of “what in the world is going on here?!”. Part of it is, of course, entirely intentional. We wake up with Ellis in a train compartment and share her fear when she discovers she has no memories before that moment. I think this is one of the most terrifying things that could happen to a person, so Ellis’ reaction seems perfectly natural: she wants to know who and where she is.

She’s suspicious about the people who insist they’ve known her forever – her cousin, her “uncle”, her scary admirer – and while her unease (and mine) grew steadily as the story progressed, Ellis reacted too slowly for my taste. She let herself be put at ease when the people told her she shouldn’t ask too many questions lest she upset herself. But not knowing was what was upsetting her, so I feel like any feisty heroine should have pushed more forcefully to get the answers she wanted.

And while I know (I know, I know) that this is just the first part of the series, I like to know what is happening in a book, at least a bit of it! Here, even at the very end, I wasn’t entirely sure I understood the premise correctly. The threads – Ellis’ amnesia, her friends’ creepy scrapbooks, the news of the gruesome murders, the shipwreck – I just failed to connect the dots, somehow.

But I felt driven to read this book quickly – it’s written in a way that keeps you asking for more – and I’ll be waiting for the next part to clarify things up a bit. I liked the language, too, and the oppressive atmosphere of this small coastal town where nothing is what it seems. The pretense, the mystery and the general feeling of wrongness make up for the confusing story, I think.

I do prefer series where each of the parts has its own storyline and ending, but I hate to judge the whole series by just the first book (especially when said book seems to flow seamlessly into the next one). I’ll see what the next part brings – and then judge away.