Publishers Weekly: Polk follows her gaslamp fantasy Witchmark with a superb sequel blending political intrigue, witchcraft, and queer romance…. Polk’s ambitious world-building never encumbers her assured, action-packed pacing, deep characters, and genuine emotion. This delectable treat is a worthy follow-up to her debut.
B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog: There are pleasurable echoes of the cozy apocalypses of Neil Gaiman in The Library of the Unwritten…. The Library of the Unwritten details a fascinating, frenetic world. The library contains multitudes, just waiting to be written.
When a distress plea goes up from the isolated planet Minfar, Resistance heroes Rey, Poe and Rose hear the call! Together they will face down a First Order battalion, terrifying flying creatures, and a weapon that could change the course of the war!
Booklist: Trimoboli and Zaloga skillfully deliver a debut that uses alchemy to combine scientific logic, magical elements, and a whodunnit that gives off Sherlock Holmes-ian, gaslamp vibes…. [A]rtfully written from dual perspectives but with one fluid style, and will appeal to readers of sf, fantasy, and historical mystery, or those who just can’t choose.
In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.
Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.
But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.
Strange Horizons: Starling plays masterfully with the murky edges of consent and bodily autonomy while carefully inlaying trauma, compassion, loneliness, and a human hunger for connection….One of the many remarkable things about this book is how seamlessly it blends the terrain of the psychological with the terrain that is, well, strictly topographical. Fans of the Gothic will find plenty to analyze here—the association of underground caverns with secrets, of the unmarked grave with unresolved fears, the descent into the subterranean with the descent into mental instability, is an old and rich literary tradition.
With a murderer on the loose, it’s up to an enlightened bodysnatcher and a rebellious princess to save the city, in this wonderfully inventive Victorian-tinged fantasy noir.
“Man of Science” Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he’s forced to trust in the superstitions he’s always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger’s execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever. With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation. There’s a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.
Publishers Weekly: [An] excellent debut… Hackwith builds her world and characters with loving detail, creating a delightful addition to the corpus of library-based and heaven vs. hell fantasies.
Witchmark by C. L. Polk (Tor.com)
The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander (Tor.com)
Still So Strange, by Amanda Downum (ChiZine Publications)
Library Journal: The Unwritten Wing in Hell is home to all stories unfinished by their authors. Claire is the head librarian. Sometimes she must chase down and return characters who have escaped from their pages. When one such hero heads to Earth to find his author, Claire, her current assistant and former muse Brevity, and the demon Leto try to capture him. The trio are attacked by the angel Ramiel, who thinks they are looking for the same tome he is: the Devil’s Bible. Deliberately lost on Earth for centuries, the Devil’s Bible could put the power of either heaven or hell in control. Claire and her companions must find it before the two realms decide to declare war over the missing book, which could destroy Earth in the process. The group journeys through realms of the dead and discovers the secrets and truths of all involved as they work to save everyone’s stories.
VERDICT Elaborate worldbuilding, poignant and smart characters, and a layered plot make this first in a fantasy series from Hackwith (also writing as sf romance author Ada Harper) is an ode to books, writing, and found families.