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Hell's Library #1

The Library of the Unwritten

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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.

384 pages, ebook

First published October 1, 2019

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About the author

A.J. Hackwith

8 books1,229 followers
A. J. Hackwith is (almost) certainly not an ink witch in a hoodie. She's a queer writer of fantasy and science fiction living in the Pacific Northwest, and writes sci-fi romance as Ada Harper. She is a graduate of the Viable Paradise writer's workshop and her work appears in Uncanny Magazine and assorted anthologies. Summon A.J. at your own peril with an arcane circle of fountain pens and classic RPGs, or you can find her on Twitter and other dark corners of the Internet.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,427 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
August 18, 2022
[SCREAMS THROUGH AN OVERSIZED MEGAPHONE] ‘tis a good day to bring everyone’s attention to this book about unfinished books that get sent to a library in Hell, and the librarians tasked with tracking them down when they manifest into restless characters who flee in search of their authors!
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,198 reviews40.7k followers
June 5, 2022
THIS BOOK IS SMOKING HOT BECAUSE IT’S ABOUT LIBRARY FROM HELL! So giving my four hellish, hot-tish, racks of book-ish and damsel in distress-ish stars coming up with a cup of white tea (more sugar, more milk please)

Well, I thanked my lucky stars and I was about to write a long thank you letter to NetGalley to not reject me this time and send this book ( I possibly thought to barter my jean collection to have this book or sale my soul but thankfully I didn’t need to do that! Who buys 57 jeans a year? Me! Who lost her soul for more Chardonnay? Yeah, again me!)

Think about a library in hell, full of characters trapped in because of their unfinished books, being called “damsel in distress”! Same library has a strict, tough librarian ( forget about the bespectacled, sexy, intellectual models fantasized by horny men population!), once upon a time is also a writer, left her unfinished books, fell in love with one of her characters and lost everything she had, convicted herself to be guardian of the books in hell forever.

Now the bible of hell is out there and she needed to find it before the fallen angel of Ramiel. Her team members to achieve this goal: a hero, who escaped from the library to find his own writer and convinced her to finish the book (they had a small romantic interaction) , a clever, skillful muse Brevity and demon courier ( but some parts of him are still human) Leto and hot but shady arcanist Andras.

I enjoyed the authors’ imagination and I visualized this book as a perfect limited series. Think about it! With the art director of Fantastic Beasts and where to find them, you may see a beautiful world of books and its characters had some many unfinished business. A long and dangerous journey from Valhalla to the hells’ gates, never ending battle of angels and demons! This time you have to chant for the hell raisers because interestingly they are the good ones!
I already made my dream cast for this project:

Claire/Librarian of hell: Claire Foy

Brevity/ muse: Jodie Comer ( all time favorite villanelle could show her inspirational side)

Andras/ arcanist: Go back and forth between Michael Fassbender and Tom Ellis

Hero: Henry Cavill ( you couldn’t find better hero than superman!)

Leto: Nick Jonas no no kidding, Harry Styles, okay no more teasing, my best candidate is Asa Butterfield!

Beatrice: Rachel Weisz (if 007 let his wife join my visualized brain series)

Ramiel: David Tennant ( Same man could be Crowley, Doctor Who, Killgrave and killed all those performances! Yes this man is not real human, he could only be a watcher!)

Uriel: Are you kidding me? Of course EMMA THOMPSON!

I had some hard times to connect with the characters because they were so tough, a little merciless and selfish so their lack of compassion (except librarian’s protectiveness about Leto) a little irritated me. But at least my visual cast solves this problem and stop me punch them.

As a summary, strong plot, fast paced, well-rounded development, vivid characters and this book is about books so how could I not like it?

So much special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing to send me this wonderful ARC COPY in exchange my honest review and make me sing “Walking on Sunshine”!
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews112k followers
June 16, 2020
The concept is super creative and I love the way Hackwith fully embraces getting meta and playful with storytelling and tropes. She’s crafted a magical and expansive and given personality to all of the characters. While I appreciate the creativity a lot, I couldn’t find myself attached to any of the characters or the stakes, and often found that the pacing dragged throughout an already dense story. This was a miss for me, but perhaps readers who are really into the idea of “magical libraries” might love it.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,168 reviews98.2k followers
March 27, 2023

truly some of the best writing i've ever read in my life. the found family? the unconditional love and the journey of feeling that for others but also yourself? the story, the messages, the way they were perfectly woven together? a masterpiece. and love me some on page pan rep. <3

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Profile Image for Riley.
427 reviews21.1k followers
February 1, 2020
"talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before, unafraid to reference or not reference, put it in a blender, shit on it, vomit on it, eat it, give birth to it."
—Lady Gaga probably after reading this book
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,439 reviews78.1k followers
October 3, 2019
This was such a unique spin on the old "librarians/libraries inside of books" trope, and I found myself quite taken with the characters. I do think this works well as a standalone novel, and it feels a stretch to push this into a series, but I'm open to seeing where this goes! Full review to come.


"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."

In this house, we stan books about libraries.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
June 2, 2022
Great supernatural adventure & terrific cast of characters!

This book is very well written, and has everything I am coming to love in the fantasy genre. It has a wonderful adventure with twists and turns and unpredictable events. It has spectacular characters that are fully developed and none of them turn out to be what they first appear to be.

It has an awesomely refreshing and original storyline with plenty of humor, suspense, mystery and stumbling blocks put in the way. There all sorts of supernatural happenings, it is crazy that so many different things are in one book but it all fits so perfectly together.

The library of the unwritten it a library located in Hell. Though it is not technically part of Hell’s domain, it just resides there. This is due to the fact that it contains all the books that are unwritten form authors living, dead and some yet to live. These works are potential, not actual.

Stories want to change, and it is a librarian’s job to preserve them; that’s the natural order of things. The Unwritten Wing of the Library, for all its infinite magic and mystery, is in some ways a futile project. No story, written or unwritten, is static. Left abandoned too long and given the right stimulation, a book goes wrong in the head. It is a story’s natural ambition to wake up and start telling itself to the world.
This, of course, is a buggered pain in the arse.

Librarian Fleur Michel, 1782 CE, Unwritten Wing,
Librarian’s Log entry, Personal Ephemera and Errata

Claire Hadley is the current librarian and takes her job very seriously, she keeps the library in tip top shape, repairing old books and making sure stories stay in their pages. When a book grows restless it can try to escape in the form of one of the characters and she is in charge of corralling them and making sure they get back in their books before any damage is done. One day Claire and her assistant, a former muse named Brevity get a visit from a teenage demon named Leto, who gives them a message that a book has is missing.

When books escapes the library they generally go to meet their author in order to try to get the author to write the story, but that can be detrimental and damaging to the book. So the Claire, Brevity and Leto go off to Earth to find the character/book. In this case it is a Hero and they find him with the author. They end up taking him, but as they are leaving they cross paths with an Angel named Ramiel, looking for the Devil’s Bible. He thinks they are on Earth to retrieve it.

Ramiel had a piece of the Devils Bible (Codex), and in a struggle Leto gets it before they return to the library. When Claire figures out what it is, they realize they have to get it before heaven doe or there will be a war between Heaven and Hell. So along with Claire’s former mentor Andras who was once a Hell Duke of Hell, but now is in charge of another wing of the library, they all set out to find the missing pages of the Codex.

As the journey begins, we have a ragtag group, with Claire being a very prim and proper rule follower, Hero is the handsome romantic fantasy hero from a book, Brevity is a young happy-go-lucky assistant who defers to Claire for everything, Leto is a new demon and a teenager who is more human than demon and is afraid of almost everything, and Andras who is basically a mentor that Claire trusts.

They have to find the pages within a certain timeframe and they have Angels on their tails who are also looking for the same thing. Plus they are doing it on the sly, because Lucifer probably wouldn’t like the embarrassment of knowing this is out there. They get into some very complicated and interesting situations, the book is both fun and impressive. I recommend it to anyone who likes an adventure story especially a paranormal one.

There are Angels, Demons, Humans, Hellhounds, Gargoyles, Hero’s and Damsels from books, Viking warriors, and other monsters from Hell. Somehow it all fits together without being tacky. Like I said earlier, just about every one of the main characters, including the Angels ends up being different than the original impression, or maybe if not difficult, then along the way we find out things about them or we see them act in ways that are surprising. It is nice that not everything is as you think and people or souls can be unpredictable and step up when it counts.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.3k followers
July 12, 2020
Bingeing this was the most fun I've had while reading in AGES. I'm not much of a fantasy reader but this sucked me in from page one and had me hooked from start to finish. I cannot wait for book two!!
Profile Image for Holly.
196 reviews65 followers
October 24, 2019
I was very excited by the concept of the Library of the Unwritten and was eager to read it. We learn that in this library, an unwritten book can wake up, manifest as one of its character and escape from the book. It was the Librarian’s responsibility to track down the escapee and return him or her to its pages. The worst thing that can happen is for the character to make contact with the author and influence them and their writing, thereby potentially changing the book and it’s direction, which may not bode well for the character’s return to its pages. Furthermore, the longer the character experiences life outside the book, the more he or she could change and as a result, no longer fit in the book.

The idea of escaped characters from unwritten books is very imaginative and my favorite part of The Library of the Unwritten was following the escapee named Hero. But I found the reading of this book to be a major chore. It took very little for me to be distracted from reading it and putting off picking it back up again. For me, the plot meandered and never fully pulled me in. I do enjoy science fiction/fantasy novels but this one just did not satisfy me. I am not exactly sure why I had so much trouble reading The Library of the Unwritten but overall, the execution of this appealing premise did not work for me.

Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group/Ace and NetGalley for an advance reader copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
744 reviews11.8k followers
April 27, 2023
“No story, written or unwritten, is static. Left abandoned too long and given the right stimulation, a book goes wrong in the head. It is a story’s natural ambition to wake up and start telling itself to the world.
This, of course, is a buggered pain in the arse.”

Claire Hadley is a librarian in the Unwritten Wing of Hell’s Library, where books that have never been written find their resting place. Claire and her assistant, an ex-muse Brevity, do their best to keep everything in order, but sometimes all Hell breaks loose (yes, pun intended).

Sometimes unwritten books get restless and wake up, hoping to make themselves spring into existence.

Add to it an Arcanist demon, an awoken book who is also an (anti)hero, an ex-teenager brand-new neurotic demon courier, a couple of angels, and the bureaucratic Good-Omens-esque structure of Heaven and Hell (plus a side trip to Valhalla - just as awesome of a place as one would expect), and a very powerful McGuffin to keep things in motion - and you have a very entertaining story on your hands.
“Hell had a pet gargoyle. Ravens fought like warriors. Books bled ink. And dead bodies stank, even in Hell.”

Reading it, I could not escape the feeling that the author had a lot of fun writing it. All the humor and irreverence shine through the pages. The ragtag bunch of characters (“the woman accompanied by a muse, two demons, and Prince Charming”) is fun to follow on their adventures through the realms of afterlife and reality. There is a librarians duel using quotations, for Library’s sake!

But then a healthy dose of seriousness tends to be injected here and there - to bring a touch of humanity and heartbreak and pathos to keep the story on track and allow the characters to grow and develop their (anti)hero selves.
“How much easier it would be if everyone knew their role: the hero, the sidekick, the villain. Our books would be neater and our souls less frayed. But whether you have blood or ink, no one's story is that simple.”

Is definitely not a perfect book. But the flaws did not get in the way of the enjoyment and the admiration of the creativity, so I’m happy to let those slide.

I am very glad this book got written and was not consigned to Hell’s Library Unfinished Wing.
“And here’s how you make a story: Soak a life in mortality. Scrape the soul.”
Easy 4 stars.
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
623 reviews1,952 followers
January 29, 2022
found family in hell.
found family IN HELL.


“The library exists in hell, it doesn’t serve it.”

— overall thoughts: 3.75 —

goodness the platonic relationships make me so soft. If I get to go on this kind of adventure in hell, I will gladly dig myself a grave. this felt like aj hackwith took me on a good ol’ fun adventure around the depths of hell and even though that might sound ~dark~ it really wasn’t. There was more humor than I thought there would be but also a lot more insight into what it means to be human.

“We are the dreams that did not die with the dreamer. We care nothing for the dark. We are imagination.”

wondering what the vibe/tone is?
my answer: the good place + good omens + scythe

it’s the magical realism kind of plot that gives structure to a vague concept aka “hell”. a book about unfinished books that come to life and librarians chasing them down because they just want to be reunited with their authors *big pleading eyes emoji*

“Regardless of the reason, when books ran, it was the librarian’s duty to catch them.”

Before i started reading i actually didn’t know that the books actually took on their characters so that they look human (even though it is in the synopsis) and I thought they were just actual books flying around. The fact that they physically took on the heroes of their own stories was so fascinating.

and the fact that the book chose to not focus on romantic relationships made me want to sob harder than i already was.

“Might be the unwritten have an idea or two on how their own story should go. Might be, they have reason to be angry. Pray they never wake up.”

it was a little difficult for me to wrap my head around the world and magic system because it was a little bigger than i expected (playing games with demons, puzzles that they were constantly solving) but if i this physically i probably would have been able to follow it more.

but the themes and the messages that it was trying to get across was very well-received and the dark-ish but whimsical tone that the book set is just my cup of tea. i was seriously sobbing (especially towards the end).

yes, the plot was great and the world-building was solid but their little found family and the character dynamics were *chefs kiss* to be honest, it was Claire who i had found it the most difficult to connect with personally but i enjoyed her company nonetheless. Claire is also the pansexual rep here in case you were wondering.

“Beware the stories that find their freedom,”

the plot and structure reminded me too much of stories that i was head over heels for (the good place, good omens, scythe) that i almost felt like i had to like it and i thought it wasn't going to work for me at first but thankfully the characters pulled through

the dichotomy between heroes and villains was a big A+ to me

like seriously. please read this for my main men: Hero and Leto <3

i may not have enjoyed this as much as i thought i would but we're fine because i still achieved a lot more raw enjoyment in this book than the past books i just completed

*buys all the copies of this book and calmly starts handing them out to all of you who find logical angel and demon stories interesting*

“Nothing we do, is not felt,”

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Profile Image for Jaimie.
384 reviews302 followers
April 24, 2020
I’m sad sad sad.

This book has a bad ass librarian. A library of all of history’s unwritten books. A library in hell! There’s a character incarnate developing a personality independent of his story. An ex-muse turned assistant librarian. A fallen angel with divided loyalties. A missing demonic bible. A trip through several realms including Valhalla!

There’s absolutely no reason this shouldn’t be one of my favorite books of 2019.

But it’s sure not.

The story is dull. The pacing is slooooowww. I always found it putdownable. While I did grow to care for several characters, and wanted to see how they would fare, I never cared about the actual plot of finding the codex and fighting (sort of?) Uriel. Or the “reveal” of the traitor in our characters’ midst. (It was not at all a shock.)

There are a few moments that really shine, which makes it even sadder that the plot never got it together. A few spectacular ideas does not a successful novel make.

Also, one question, why the hell (ha. ha.) is the Library of the Unwritten in Hell?? That’s never explained and never made sense to me. It seems the author wanted the shock value of setting her novel in Hell’s library, but wanted an out so her librarian and other characters aren’t “evil.”

Sadly disappointing. What could the sequel possibly be about?

2 stars
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,123 reviews30.2k followers
September 20, 2019
An original book about books! The Library of the Unwritten is the first in a new fantasy series. The premise? Books that are not finished by authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell. The job of the Librarian? Tracking down any of the characters who may emerge from the stories.

Claire has been the Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing for many years. It’s her job to do the mundane mostly; repairing books and organizing them, but every once in a while, a character gets loose, and she has to find him or her. In fact, a Hero escapes from a book and is in search of the author. Claire has some help to assist her in tracking him down.

But things go awry in a very bad way…

Aww, I loved these characters! They were witty and clever with fun banter. The first half of the book clipped along and the ending? Well, it ended with a big ole bang! There’s so much to look forward to in the next installment and yet this book ended in a satisfactory way. Kudos to the author for that. Kudos to her for the whole thing!

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for aphrodite.
388 reviews865 followers
July 20, 2020
REREAD 7/20/2020: this remains one of the most unique books i've ever read

“whenever she read a book in a binge, cover to cover in a day with little break, she always found it stuck in her brain like a haze. the narrative voice struck with her, and for a bit after, it was always like a walking dream, living someone else’s thoughts.”

who knew this book was going to describe exactly how i was going to feel after finishing it.

where do I even begin with this review?

I truly did not expect for this to live up to its potential because everything about it seemed SO PERFECT for me. but I can safely say it exceeded all hopes and desires. this book is phenomenal and an absolute masterpiece.

it has everything you could ever want: lovable, sarcastic characters on an adventure story throughout realms of mythology rapped up in a bibliophilic package.

every line in here was stunning. I almost did the unthinkable that is writing in my library copy because I wanted to soak in everything.

I truly can’t emphasize how incredible this story is with just my review as I’m not the most articulate. but if you are a fan of adventure, biblical lore, mythology, books about books, snarky characters, & found families with the writing style of comparable to seanan mcguire, you NEED to read this book.

you will not be disappointed.
Profile Image for Henk.
850 reviews
February 6, 2022
Thoroughly enjoyable, with a wild-goose chase of a librarian through Hell, Heaven, Walhalla and even earth and the Minoan afterlife. Bit sweet in resolution but got me hooked and interested all the time along the way
Anything can happen in service of a story

The premise of The Library of the Unwritten sounds amazing: a grumpy librarian, presiding over the Library of Unwritten Books, located in hell, is led to deal with a major crisis. And A.J. Hackwith delivered on her concept, with brisk head librarian Claire, a Hero who struggles against his fate, a demon who is not what he seems to be, a fallen muse and two angels who are quite pissed. An accountant having a snippet of the illusive Devil’s Bible, turning up at the gates of heaven to barter this dangerous piece for access to paradise, is a nice added touch to set the whole story into motion. Sometimes the level of coincidence and convenient limits to magic (since we are dealing with supernatural beings in various afterlives) is a bit too obviously visible, Claire's attachment to Leto had me rather puzzled for a long time, but the characters are vibrant and snappy, and I was kept engaged throughout the book. Warmly recommended for a quick and fun read!

Only books died in hell, everyone else needs to live with their choice

We all get the afterlife our soul requires.

Unpleasant? Well, except if you really enjoy rollercoasters.

A tragedy in Hell’s history.

We’ve drowned together, you can call me Claire

We have passage agreements with most realms of paradise.

Earth is just going to deal with writer’s block till we get back.

I refuse to be anyone’s punishment

Says the one who is accompanied by a muse, a demon and prince charming.

All’s well in hell

It doesn’t matter what you were meant to be, only what you do

The pain in death isn’t the dying it’s the wounds we leave in our wake.

Deception is when you lie to others, secrets are when you lie to yourself
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
Shelved as 'tbz'
August 7, 2019

A library filled with books whose authors have not finished writing them is… one of the most creative premises I’ve ever seen. So here for this.
Profile Image for Celeste.
906 reviews2,342 followers
November 9, 2019
I’d like to thank NetGalley and the publisher (Ace) for providing me with a complementary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
“No story is insignificant.”

Books are one of the most magical of mankind’s creations. Our ability to tell ourselves stories, to reshape reality and craft worlds of our own using nothing more than ink and page and the random scribblings we’ve agreed on as an alphabet, is in my opinion one of our most human capacities. Every life is a story, and those who write have been gifted with the rare talent for immortalizing the tales that live inside their minds. But what about the rest of us? What about those of us whose minds are filled with stories that we never find time to jot down, or authors who pass away with a multitude of tales still living inside them that never made their way onto shelves next to their kin? Where do those stories go? Do they die along with us, or does the world find a way to keep them? According to Hackwith, it’s the latter.
“Stories are, at the most basic level, how we make sense of the world.”

Imagine if you will a library of sheer potential. Unwritten tales from the inception of human language all the way through the nebulous future, tales whose authors died centuries ago and have yet to be born. Stories that will be written and those that have lost their chance forever. All of that potential under one roof would assuredly need a guardian. That’s where Claire comes in.
“We think stories are contained things, but they’re not. Ask the muses. Humans, stories, tragedies, and wishes—everything leaves ripples in the world. Nothing we do is not felt; that’s a comfort. Nothing we do is not felt; that’s a curse.”

Claire is the current Librarian in charge of the Library of the Unwritten, located in Hell but not technically part of Hell. She is an unauthor, one who had countless stories to tell yet never penned a single one. She died with regrets, and will be in charge of the Library until she can make peace with herself. Her assistant, Brevity, is a former muse, cast out for keeping her inspiration to herself instead of doling it out to mankind. Rounding out the cast of perspective characters is Leto, a fledgling demon who isn’t who he thinks he is, and Ramiel, a fallen angel trying to find his way back into heaven.
“Stories can die. Of course they can. Ask any author who’s had an idea wither in their head, fail to thrive and bear fruit. Or a book that spoke to you as a child but upon revisiting it was silent and empty. Stories can die from neglect, from abuse, from rot… Honor the stories that speak to you, that give you something you need to keep going. Cherish stories while they are here. There’s a reason the unwritten live on something as fragile as paper.”

We also meet other angels and demons, along with gatekeepers and residents of Valhalla, psychopomps of dead realms and unwritten books made flesh. The compendium of characters is almost as varied as the Library that Claire has sworn to protect. But a quest to locate and protect scattered pages of an insanely powerful text might find the realms, including the Library, falling down around them. If they don’t sabotage themselves first.
“Mark my words, souls are made of tougher stuff. You can wear one down, tear one apart, unspool all the thread, shave a piece off even, but destroy one? I imagine there’s an end, somewhere… But even an end is just where you run out of book. Stories change, and stories go on. Maybe souls do too.”

There was more action in the story than I expected. Not only was there a constant sense of frantically striving to stay a step ahead of pursuers, there were also duels and rituals that could end in death and a pretty epic battle scene towards the end. My favorite of these elements was a duel between librarians, where words were wielded as actual weapons. Tossing appropriate quotations at your opponent’s head like missiles is one of the best visuals I’ve come across.
“Books are knowledge weaponized.”

I love the concept of this book. A library of stories that never found their way into books, of that have yet to be written? That sounds like paradise to me. Which is why the thought of said Library existing inside Hell threw me off a bit. But once I got past that, I found Claire and her biblio-charges and comrades in arms very intriguing. Hackwith wrote a plethora of snappy, memorable lines about books and stories and authors that I believe will really stick with me. I highlighted and annotated like a madwoman.
“Books have songs, songs have stories, and then there’re humans at the heart of the jumbled mess… you just can’t subtract a human from the story, no matter how hard you try. Even death doesn’t do that.”

There were times when I felt that the author was almost trying too hard to be both utterly original and completely inclusive, and that the two elements were fighting for dominance. This made for some muddy passages that were more difficult to get through than they should have been. However, this could also be due to the fact that I had a lot going on in my life and was unable to find the time to read this more quickly. Overall, Hackwith created something special and new in the form of The Library of the Unwritten, and I’ll be very interested to see where the story goes from here. It’s a series that I will most certainly continue.
“Go. Be good. No—be better than good: be happy.”

You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,862 reviews5,005 followers
September 12, 2020
Library of never-written books, guarded by a dead author, in Hell? Sure, you can always sell book-lovers on stories with magical books or libraries, can't you? And this was a fun enough story, with plenty of action and lots of references to literature and mythology.

This was a low 4 stars for me, more like 3.5 rounded up. I was never quite convinced by the world-building, or the stakes of the plot. And while I didn't dislike the characters I wasn't passionate about them, either. When main characters die or lose loved ones and I don't have any emotional reaction, that's a sure sign that I'm not invested in them.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
916 reviews13.9k followers
September 18, 2022
DNF at page 177

I started this book at 3 AM after finishing a 5-star book before it, and it immediately engrossed me and I was loving the hell vs. heaven setting. However, the more I got into this book, the harder it got to pick up, and about half way through I just realized I couldn't care less about the characters or the action. Seeing that it's a three book series was another let down for me because I couldn't bring myself to care about what's happening in this installment, let alone where the next two will be headed.

cool concept, but overwritten and difficult pacing.
November 14, 2019
We are the dreams that did not die with the dreamer.

Story 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Stories want to change, and it is a librarians job to preserve them, that’s the natural order of things.

In hell there’s a special place for anyone and anything. Even unwritten books.
And when there’s a library, a librarian isn’t far.
Claire is the librarian since... a long, long time. Her work is nearly always the same.
Find escaped characters, bring them back into the book. Care for books, repair books etc etc etc.
But one day something is different. A demon is in her library and he’s giving her a message - a character escaped.
They’re searching him in the real world, but the adventure doesn’t stop there.
There is a world filled with different dimension, Valhalla for the fallen warriors and realms of long forgotten gods.
And hell and heavens tension get stronger and stronger each day.
There’s war coming, if Claire can’t find a book first.

This was actually really entertaining, even though not perfect.
But the world itself was so detailed, fun and fascinating. I really loved it.
And the writing was absolutely beautiful sometimes.

Character 🌟🌟🌟
A book playing human... but you’re not. And books belong on shelves.

Claire is a librarian, there’s nothing more important than books.
And a tidy, silent library.
In the beginning Claire was a Stone cold woman who couldn’t care less about escaped characters. After all there were just written letters, a character in a book. Not human.
But after meeting, fighting and talking to a character for such a long time, Claire’s view of things changes bit by bit, even though she doesn’t really realize it right away.
I liked that even though Claire seemed like the perfect librarian, she still had a lot of room to improve, with a really great character development.
The other characters weren’t that much in focus and that was really, really sad.
Yes, sometimes we got snippets of background information and past lives and chapters in their POV, but most of the time that was the only thing we got.
I still liked them, but I guess the weak connection with the book made me give it a lower rating.

World 🌟🌟🌟🌟
The unwritten is just one wing, though one of the largest.
There are wings of poetry, wings of songs, wings of dying words and visions.

Can you imagine that for every story you haven’t finished or written there is a book in a library in hell with a cold hearted librarian?
When I started to read this I was a little bit devastated. I thought about all the stories, all the characters that were flying through my head, but never made it on paper (or on a text on my computer). It made me so sad.
So, for every idea, for every story you want to write: write it.
So there’ll be less books in hell waiting to be written.

When unwritten books get too wild, too loved or just too hungry, they get it in their fool heads to be real.

Relationships 🌟🌟🌟
Says the Woman accompanied by a muse, two demons and Prince Charming.

Brevity and Claire had a tight relationship, that made me think of best friends or sisters.
Claire cares for Leto (the demon) a lot and tried to save him and protect him as much as she could. Leto was like the baby of the group.
Hero hated Claire like crazy.
Claire hated Hero like crazy.
Or not? 😉
What i absolutely adored was that Claire was pansexual and Hero was bisexual.
And it was absolutely normal. 😍😍😍

Writing style 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Stories can die. Of course they can.
Ask any author who’s has an idea wither in their head, fail to thrive and bear fruit.

Even though the story itself was pretty detailed, I enjoyed it a lot.
The writing was so beautiful, so poetic.
I was in love.
The pacing was normal, but a little bit slower sometimes and all in all I was absolutely in love with the world the author created.
There were a few POVs but I think the main one was Claire.

All in all I had a lot of fun.

What is a Story without want, without desire, without need?
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,718 reviews856 followers
January 6, 2021
i think about this book once a day

Trigger warnings for .

Representation: Claire (mc) is Black & pansexual; Leto (sc) has anxiety; Hero (mc) is queer; Beatrice (sc) is sapphic; BIPOC & queer scs.

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Profile Image for monica kim.
202 reviews6,073 followers
August 30, 2020
this is a very solid 3.5 for me! and honestly, if i read it again, it might be more like a 4. i just struggled a little to follow the audiobook in the middle.

read this if you liked good omens, starless sea, and sorcery of thorns (or even if you didn’t like them but liked the idea of them bc yall know i really didn’t like sorcery ahah)
Profile Image for Toni.
515 reviews
September 30, 2019
When I read the blurb, I knew straightaway I needed to read the book. One of my favourite books ever -Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov- has a famous line: Manuscripts don't burn. The premise of this first book in a new fantasy series echoed Bulgakov's words- somewhere, in a place not governed by earthly laws of logic or order, there exists a library of stories that might or might not find their way into existence..
Claire Hadley is Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing (there is also another wing called Arcane with its own head supervisor, but more about it later). She has been doing her job for three decades ever since her predecessor disappeared into nowhere. On surface, Claire appears to be quite stern, even ruthless. In order to make a restless book character return to its unwritten story, she sometimes has to damage it with surgical precision and zero hesitation. When a nervous teenage demon Leto appears in the library with an order to track an escaped hero who has already made his way to the Earth, Claire knows she has no time to waste. Leto and Claire are given day passes, while Brevity (isn't it a fantastic name for a story like this?), Claire's assistant, can leave and come back to the Library in a much more flexible manner. They succeed in tracking the fugitive, who they decide to call simply Hero, but on their way back things get complicated. A fallen angel Ramiel, who has been granted a possibility to enter the Heaven Gates again if he tracks a dark and dangerous artefact, confronts and accuses them of being in the posessession of the object he is searching for. Although Claire and Leto escape, on their return to the Library Claire launches her own investigation and realises she must retrieve the book, otherwise the world of Mortals might be destroyed in the war between Heaven and Hell. To do that she must enlist the help of the Head of the Arcane Wing, her former mentor.
Apart from a very original premise and gripping plot, the book has a great character cast. Claire Hadley, the Librarian, is very humane and willing (and able) to see the best in everybody she meets. In this world, souls judge themselves, so you will wonder why she ended up punishing herself by deciding she needed to pay for her sins by becoming a librarian in Hell ( tenant, not servant- the Library is located in Hell, but is not a part of it). You've got to admire the wit of the author who gave her apprentice such a wonderful name - Brevity. Brevity is a former muse and is charming beyond description. There's a lot more to Hero than just a pretty face and bravado. Leto...you have to earn his trust- will Claire succeed in proving herself to this half-demon/lhalf-sulky teenager?
There are twists and turns, traps and betrayals to watch out for. I loved the characters' brief soujourn in Valhalla and Claire's brilliant duel with the local bard, but there are other realms that get explored in this imaginative book. This is an adventure story and a quest, so it will be appreciated by fans of fantasy and paranormal fiction. The twist at the end promises an interesting sequel, where I hope we'll find out more secrets from Claire's past as well as more about the Library itself.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Ace (Penguin Publishing Group) for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
Profile Image for Michelle F.
232 reviews68 followers
January 1, 2022

I'm way behind in my reviews, but I was positive I posted this once already. Or not, I guess!

I've self-imposed a theme for my choices in the book club I belong to. For me to choose one book, without any guidance and very few restrictions? Out of ALL the books? Bah! Impossible.
So I gave myself a theme (a broad theme) and the theme was 'Books about Books'. Library of the Unwritten was my November 2019 pick.

There is just something about Books about Books that seems...I don't know...extra magical to me, no matter what genre they fall into. Library of the Unwritten – in theory, at least – checks all of my happy boxes: a library that houses all of the unwritten stories – living ideas that were never manifested – housed and full of created power in Hell; Stories so anxious to be told that they try (and sometimes succeed) to manifest themselves; An endless, ever-changing library with a resourceful librarian and a spunky assistant; A quest through Heaven, Earth and multiple Afterlives? All of it sounds like an intriguing heap of fun!

It was. Tons of fun. Librarian Claire – fiercely protective of the books (and beings) under her care and taking her responsibilities very seriously – must journey with a hapless young demon, her Muse assistant and an errant manifest Hero to retrieve and protect a mysteriously powerful piece of writing. Standing in her way are angels of Heaven, scheming denizens of Hell, and all of the baggage that she herself carries.

I honestly loved all of the individual elements of this book, but less so the way it all came together. Everything seemed so condensed, and it left me with so many questions.

In the first part of the story, for example, we meet Claire – a human soul who has chosen as her punishment in Hell to work in the titular Library. We meet her assistant Verity, who was fired from her function as a Muse and is making a new start in the Library. And we meet Leto, the young messenger demon with spotty memories who, after bringing notice from Satan that an Unwritten Character has gotten free of its book and escaped to Earth, gets caught up in the resulting hunt.

As a reader, I could have spent a full novel meeting these three dynamic characters, learning about the Library and Hell, and going along on this initial task to find and recover Hero, the escapee, ideally before the Unwritten character can track down his author on Earth. Instead, we are hurriedly propelled into the rest of the underwhelming plot, and whisked into a tornado of new characters and multiple settings, all of which could have benefited so much from some space to breathe and be developed themselves.

This is meant to be half criticism, half praise. Indeed, wanting to spend more time in an author's creation is obviously a compliment! But having covered so much ground with such epic repercussions, I find myself wondering if Hackwith has left themself any place to go. I suppose I look forward to finding out.
September 5, 2019
"Only books died in Hell. Everyone else had to live with their choices." *

There is a library in Hell full of unfinished/unwritten stories.  Claire, a no-no-nonsense mortal, has been Head Librarian for a few decades now.  She repairs the books as needed and keeps an eye on the ones that grow restless.

"There were two parts to any unwritten book. Its words---the twisting, changing text on the page---and its story. Most of the time, the two parts were united in the books filling the Unwritten Wing's stacks, but now and then a book woke up. Felt it had a purpose beyond words on a page. Then the story made itself into one of its characters and went walking." *

Leto, a demon courier, passes on a message to Claire that an unwritten book has gone missing and is a suspected runaway.  Claire brings Leto and her assistant Brevity to Earth to track down the character that has escaped.  While it should be a routine retrieval, Claire is shocked when the fallen angel Ramiel shows up convinced that they have the Devil's Bible in their possession.

Claire, Leto, and Brevity, and the character they captured journey across the realms attempting to track down the Devil's Bible before another war between Heaven and Hell breaks out and the library can be destroyed.

I loved this book!  The premise is so original and the characters were entertaining with their dry humor (which I always enjoy) and the brief back stories that explain how they ended up in Hell.  I also loved a surprising connection between two characters that isn't revealed until the last portion of the book.
While the middle hit a lull, it picked back up with a strong ending and I can't wait to see what happens in their next adventure!  That's right, this was only book one in the series A Novel from Hell's Library.  I'm looking forward to finding out more about Claire's past, the politics of Hell which are briefly discussed in this book, and Heaven's involvement.

Huge thanks to Ace Books and Edelweiss for providing me with a DRC in exchange for my honest review.  The Library of the Unwritten is scheduled for release on October 1, 2019.

*Quotes included are from a digital advanced reader's copy and are subject to change upon final publication.

For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
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