ARC Review: Unwept (The Nightbirds #1) – Tracy Hickman & Laura Hickman

18490661eARC provided through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review

Summary:

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.

Review:

I’m afraid this is one of those books. Lovely cover art, lovely premise, lovely atmosphere within the book itself…and yet it all seems to amount to almost nothing in the end, except a cliffhanger non-ending, the kind I despise, especially in book short enough that it can almost be considered a novella at 274 pages.

The premise is simple enough: Ellis wakes up from a seeming nightmare not knowing who she is or where she is. She’s told that she’s been sent off to the estate of an old friend to help her recover her memory. Of course, things aren’t quite what they seem and she spends the book trying to figure out exactly which side is the crazy one. At first the prologue seems to be disconnected from the rest of the book. It does turn out to be a bit of a hint, but honestly, the vast majority of this book (almost 80% truly) barely feels paranormal at all. There are little strange occurrences and some nightmares that we’re meant to question the nature of the reality that she’s living in, but the rest is so low key that you’re still meant to be questioning her sanity rather than the situation at hand.

As for the characters themselves…honestly, Ellis aside, I can’t say I necessarily like any of them? Jenny, who is supposed to be a childhood friend doesn’t always come across as such. Many of the “Nightbirds” seem kind of catty and/or bitchy and Merrick, the male suitor doesn’t come across as someone to route for either.

There’s some interest piqued with scrapbooks that points to the the truth and the reveal of what’s going on leaves you with more of an “oh” feeling. Like you go “okay, yeah. I should have seen that coming,” especially after you go back and think about the prologue.

And as I alluded to before; this book has a non-ending. We get some exposition and then…more or less fade to black. It’s one of those books that feels arbitrarily cut off. This is meant as a trilogy and I wonder if it maybe should have been a duology instead. You know I believe that a book should feel complete even if it’s meant to be continued in the next. This really doesn’t.

Finally, the pacing is feels slow and a bit plodding. For such a book, it sure takes a long time to get going.

For all these reasons, I just can’t recommend this book. The potential was there, but for me at least, it’s just didn’t pan out.

Verdict: Skip It

Available: July 1st

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