Published by Mira on February 11, 2020
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Source: Finished Hardcover from Publisher
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.
The Unwilling is an adult fantasy novel by Kelly Braffet. It follows the story of our two main characters, Gavin and Judah. Gavin and Judah live two very different lives, but watching their stories intersect was interesting. The Unwilling is a dense novel. Both in length (this book clocks in at over 600 pages) and in the writing. Overall, I enjoyed this story, but did not over-zealously love it. At times, I found myself wanting to skim some passages to get to the next part of the book, which is something I hate doing. I refrained from giving into my urge, but I was still left feeling that this book felt longer than it needed to be. I am unsure if this book is going to have a sequel or not. I think it could, but it does not need a follow up, and it works well as a standalone, and the ending was a bit mysterious, which was fitting for the overall vibe of the story.
I enjoyed the world created in The Unwilling, and I liked the magic system in place, but it was all very mysterious. I will admit that I was very confused at the beginning of the story, but eventually I felt into the world. One of our main characters, Judah is a foundling that finds herself growing up in the castle because of the strange connection , bonding her to our other main character- the prince, Gavin. This connection does not win her many friends throughout the book, but I found it to be fascinating. It was the aspect of the story that drew me in initially, and it was what kept me reading throughout the book. I wanted to know more about it, and at times I was down right confused on how all the pieces were fitting together. I eventually did get my answers, but it was a journey I had to work hard towards. The reader finally gets answers about Judah, but they don’t fully come until well after the 400 page mark of the book, so just stick with the story and you will get the answers you want.
The writing in the Unwilling is very dark, so be aware of that going in. It wasn’t something that bothered me, but there are certainly themes of abuse that might be off putting to some readers. Overall, I enjoyed the journey that Kelly Braffet took us on. The Unwilling was an interesting fantasy novel, and though it felt a bit long winded at times, it was a book that I am happy I stuck with and finished. Even though I didn’t end up loving it, I did enjoy it.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2020 New Release Challenge
- Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2020