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The Library of the Unwritten

(Hell's Library #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  16,749 ratings  ·  3,082 reviews
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 unf
Paperback, 375 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Ace Books
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Julie Aside from the main character being pansexual, there are also casual mentions of characters not being straight, which I found really refreshing. Like …moreAside from the main character being pansexual, there are also casual mentions of characters not being straight, which I found really refreshing. Like one of the other people answering this question, I didn't know that the book would have LGBT themes and I was so pleasantly surprised to find that it DID have them and that they were done so well. A lot of LGBT characters can be written as stereotypes or their sexuality takes away from their character in some way, but this book does a great job of treating sexuality like it should be treated--just a normal part of a person.(less)
Julie The audiobook is on Audible! I'm downloading it right now.…moreThe audiobook is on Audible! I'm downloading it right now.(less)

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Average rating 3.84  · 
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chai ♡
[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!
Nilufer Ozmekik
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 y
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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” mi ...more

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. rtc! <3

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Buddy read with Maëlys! ❤
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Chelsea Humphrey
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: from-publisher
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 trac
Ꮗ€♫◗☿ ❤️ ilikebooksbest.com ❤️
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 supe
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
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!! ...more
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 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 ...more
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)

Many thanks to Ace Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Book: *is about vengeful characters who escape from unfinished books*
Me: *stares uneasily at my Google drive filled to the brim with unfinished novels*

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Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-reads
“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 som
Althea ☾
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 b
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
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 h
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
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 alwa
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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 t
Feb 04, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 lib
Elle (ellexamines)
Aug 07, 2019 marked it as tbz

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.
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, books
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 charact
Jessi ❤️ H. Vojsk [if villain, why hot?]
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 someth
monica kim
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)
rachel ☾
i think about this book once a day

Trigger warnings for (view spoiler).

Whitney Atkinson
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
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5/5 stunned stars.

Instagram | review on youtube

Came for hell's library, stayed for the pansexual rep.

Jan 28, 2022 rated it really liked it
Greatly enjoyed this one. I walked into this book knowing nothing. I think that's best. There's a library. Demons. Angels. A war? Come read for yourself.

Someone save Leto. Seriously, anyone.

(15/50) Popsugar 2022 / A book about a "found family"
I feel like I've just had my heart torn apart, and yet I'm saying thank you, give me more of that. ...more
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 anoth
Michelle F

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
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
"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
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
↠ 5 stars

Oh to be a mortal in the afterlife tasked with maintaining a library full of all the unwritten stories in the world that resides in hell. The Library of the Unwritten is equally poetic as its plot is delicately crafted. The words on the page seem to serve a higher purpose than the story itself. A testament almost, to words and the stories we hold dear and those that are never written. As usual this was on my TBR for far too long which we can just pretend didn’t happen in light of my enj
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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 ...more

Other books in the series

Hell's Library (3 books)
  • The Archive of the Forgotten (Hell's Library, #2)
  • The God of Lost Words (Hell's Library, #3)

Articles featuring this book

Fantasy literature is arguably the single oldest genre in all of storytelling. Contemporary fantasy has its roots, overtly or not, in world...
422 likes · 111 comments
“Claire lived by the firm moral philosophy that one could never have too many pockets, too many books, or too much tea.” 55 likes
“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. Even war, as Shakespeare warned, can turn books to graves.
We seek to preserve the books, of course. But we forget the flip side of that duty: treasure what we have. 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.”
More quotes…