Book review: Unearthed

Unearthed is a book that I think you should read. It’s a book that made me want to write good things about it.

This cover is gorgeous. I love the intricate style.

This cover is gorgeous.

Let me back up a step. I met Karen Seymour at the Night of Writing Dangerously in 2012. Late last year, we connected via Facebook when I was looking for someone to give me some feedback on a novel draft. She offered to send me a copy of Unearthed, and I offered to review it.

Unearthed is a rewarding book. It’s a book that rewards you for persevering. It’s a book that made me like it.

It follows the story of Gemma Alexandra Pointe. Gemma is in many ways the anti-Katniss Everdeen. She’s needy, she’s uncertain, she’s introspective to the point of inaction. And yet, she is a character who is forced by events to grow tremendously in the course of this novel. I found her difficult to connect with for the first hundred pages or so. She was very much a reactive character, caught up in events and the things going on around her. And yet, slowly at first, she begins to change. By the end of the book, she is different, and yet still very recognizable. All characters should grow, but Gemma is an example of it done well.

Character in general is something that this book excels at. When I was reading it, I felt for them, I felt sorrow with Gemma, I felt annoyance with Malakai, I felt Jonny’s frustration, and more. It is not every book that I feel the depth of emotion that I felt while reading Unearthed. It is the kind of book that I kept thinking about even after I put it down, and even after I’d finished the last page.

Another thing Unearthed has done fantastically is step away from the standard tropes of urban fantasy. The Essen, and the world Seymour has created around them, is wonderfully unique. Better yet, Seymour isn’t afraid to throw the reader some curveballs, and gets into some wonderfully complex ideas. This is a big, meaty, serious book, and it constantly took me in directions that I didn’t expect, but it was always satisfying to get there. One of the reasons I struggled with the first hundred pages or so is that, at first, it led me to believe that events would turn out one way. Imagine my surprise when what I expected did not come to pass. As a reader, I found that rewarding.

Should you read Unearthed? I recommend it. I loved it when I didn’t expect to. If you want to read something that breathes fresh air into the overdone genre of urban fantasy, I think you’ll like this book. If you liked The Hunger Games (I didn’t reference Katniss without purpose), I think you’ll like this book. If you want to read a book with some serious character growth and development, I think you’ll like this book. It’s the first book in the Pactem Orbis Legend, and I’m looking eagerly forward to the next one.