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The Unwilling

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  866 ratings  ·  235 reviews
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 come
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by Mira
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Audrey because unfortunately too many people make the (all-too-common) assumption that female-written fantasy has to be young adult, regardless of marketing,…morebecause unfortunately too many people make the (all-too-common) assumption that female-written fantasy has to be young adult, regardless of marketing, shelving, author statements, etc. *eyeroll*(less)
Brigette Good question - the end seems to be open to a sequel but I haven't read anything that there would be one...…moreGood question - the end seems to be open to a sequel but I haven't read anything that there would be one...(less)

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Average rating 3.39  · 
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Kathleen Minde
Where do I start? After 572 pages of wandering storyline, unlikable characters, child abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse, plotlines that don’t make sense, a prolonged death scene involving a deer and some hunting dogs, the murder of a pregnant woman by same hunting dogs, an abortion performed on an unconscious and nonconsenting woman, a caning, and an ending that threatens the probability of a sequel, I threw this book down and simply said, “No”. I had no other words.

From the beginning
Kitten Kisser
Nov 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worst-books-ever
The entire time I was reading this overly long book, I would think, "Just get on with it already!" It just slogs on & on & on. Nearly all of the characters are horrible people. The whole time, all you want to know is what is it exactly that makes the main character Judah so special? When will we finally know? When will Judah finally know? So on & on I read. It's a lovely tale of constant abuse & torture. Physical abuse. Mental abuse. Tyranny. Surely Judah must be the hope to stop all of this mis ...more
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow this was an amazing dark and sweeping epic read about corruption, power, greed and magic. This was an amazing fantasy read that was told with amazing rich and vivid detail of the world of Highfall with a cast of characters I enjoyed reading about.

Though this is a long novel, I felt that Braffet needed it for the superb world building to create the story’s foundation and characters’ back stories. This was an enjoyable read and highly recommend to fans of magic, fantasy reads with thrilling t
Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it
This is getting a lot of bad reviews but I think the readers were expecting YA. This is not a supernatural-young adult-psuedo love story about a young female heroin all wrapped up in an exciting and easy to follow storyline and plot.

This is not YA and your TRIGGERS are being warned.
***There is a lot of violence, abuse and there is trauma. So, if you’re sensitive to it don’t hold it against the author just don’t read this book.

Yes, I completely got vibes of The Cruel Prince and Cassandra Clare
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've been a Kelly Braffett fan since her first novel, Josie and Jack, so I was super excited about this...and it did not disappoint! The Unwilling is amazing--it's complex and compelling, with characters who aren't afraid of darkness. If you like books that are thought-provoking and beautifully written, then The Unwilling will rock. your. world. Very highly recommended. ...more
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Winner, winner chicken dinner! I started off the new year by winning this book in a giveaway. Technically, It came in the mail the last week of December. I was so excited when I received the winner notification e-mail. The excitement was quickly replaced with nerves. I realized two things. The first was that it was written by one of my favorite authors. The second was that it was a completely new genre for her. I started to feel the pressure of having to review a book I wasn't guaranteed to like ...more
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*RATING 3.5*

**I voluntarily reviewed this book from Netgalley.

THE UNWILLING by Kelly Braffet is a dark and twisted tale of abuse, power, and treachery set in a magical world.

Judah and Gavin were born on the same night and have a connection that cannot be explained but they live very different lives. Lord Elban, Gavin's father, is a deeply cruel and vicious man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, and Judah is the perfect pawn. Outside the castle walls, there is someone searching for Ju
gwendalyn _books_
This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

Author Kelly Braffet fascinating debut fantasy THE UNWILLING, is a haunting, brutal breathtaking novel that pulled me completely into its engaging pages.
Incredible imagery and captivating characters with crisp dialogue, made this one of my all time favorites.

A sweeping, slightly horrors filled epic fantasy, A gripping read, with complex c

Title: The Unwilling
Author: Kelly Braffet
Release date: February 11, 2020
Cliffhanger: Yes
Genre: YA fantasy

I need to start this review by saying if you're a reader who's sensitive about reading abuse and violence on the page, this is not the book for you. This is just about the darkest and most depressing YA fantasy I've ever read and that's saying something. There were quite a few reasons why I struggled to finish this. I kept hoping that eventually it would hook me and everything would turn aro
It's hard to know where to even begin with this doorstopper: the absurdly over the top violence? (Woman in labor eaten alive by dogs and her child cut out of her womb as she breathes her last? The methodical torture of children, described in great detail? Actual torture of protagonists "on screen", frequently? Constant references to rape, sexual abuse, and incestuous child abuse? I guess this is the kind of thing that make a fantasy novel "serious" and "adult" but it was honestly hard for me to ...more
Dec 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
I read an ARC of this book.
This was a very dark, depressing book with hardly any redeeming qualities. Four children are forced to grow up together in a fortress in an oppressive totalitarian state, and are neglected at the best of times and horribly abused at the worst (and that abuse is often depicted graphically). If some relief or respite from the horrific mistreatment of these characters occurred, then perhaps the book might have been better. But it seemed that no matter what, life would nev
Nov 24, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
If you enjoy a book that drags on for hundreds of pages with virtually no development, contains totally unlikeable characters, and is full of graphically sadistic people and events, then this book is for you.

I, however, was completely put off by the story. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy and have rarely come across a book that was so bad as to make we want to scream. It also made me resent the time I spent reading it. And no, graphic violence does not bother me. I am a fan of grimda
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was dark.

I enjoyed the ambivalence of it -- many times you weren't sure who the protagonists/allies were, who the antagonist(s) were, what the goals were, what the outcome was going to be. That's not something you really see done much in fantasy, the ambiguity of it all.

In a lot of ways, this was a very small book; the majority of it takes place inside the castle walls. In other ways, it was immense, bordering on 600 pages. I felt like it read quickly, in that when I'd stick my bookmark in
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As the multiple one-star reviews will attest, this book is not for everyone. To be clear, this is not YA fantasy; it's definitely for adults. It's brutal and dark, but it's also gorgeous and, I thought, un-put-downable. ...more
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-2020
Judah could never be mistaken for ordinary. The courtiers of Highfall are either fascinated by her dark beauty or gossip quietly about how she came to be the precious foster sister to Lord Elban’s sons.

They all knew that she was the witchbred foundling adopted by the grieving Lady Clorin on the same night that she gave birth to Gavin. But only a chosen few knew of the strange bond that existed between them.

If Judah felt something, so did Gavin. If Gavin was injured, Judah experienced the pain ri
Cristina (The Page Break)
So. That was a little disappointing.

After The Unwilling recieved rampant praise from authors I've read and loved, I was so excited that I actually preordered it (and it should be said that I almost never preorder). There was no way that this book could be anything less than spectacular — not after Actual Creator of the Universe and Goddess of the Written Word Erin f*cking Morgenstern blurbed it. Something something, "Fantasy at its most sublime," something something. I was SOLD.

And then, well...
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a dark epic fantasy that moves along at a steady, albeit unhurried pace. The storyline is complex, has a huge cast of characters and there are plenty of twists and turns to hold the readers interest. The author takes the time to build up the world and the characters are complex and explored in depth and detail. I particularly liked the strong female characters, as well as the relationship Gavin and Judah had with each other, their strange connection and the unique wrist ‘scratching’ syst ...more
Betsy Decillis
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is unlike anything I've ever read. The writing left me breathless and I truly felt like I was living in this world. But it's not for everyone. If you need a lot of resolution in your life, this won't provide any. However, it's an excellent twist on that nameless special girl genre that seems to be everywhere right now. It made that storyline feel new and alive again. I'm sad to be leaving this. ...more
 Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri
It takes a special gift, I think, to bring a genre alive to someone who usually doesn't find it exciting. Author Kelly Braffet accomplishes exactly that, in her fascinating debut fantasy THE UNWILLING. Sn adorable, richly imagined, lyrically imaged story, THE UNWILLING riveted me from the very beginning and maintained my attention throughout an admittedly long novel. I especially admired her use of multiple strong female characters. ...more
Deedi Brown (DeediReads)
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: publisher-arcs
Big thanks to the team over at MIRA Books (HarperCollins) for the advanced review copy of this book! It will be published on February 11, 2020.

The book is about Judah, who was adopted by the city’s royalty. The midwife called to deliver Gavin (the heir of the city) had just delivered Judah, and the Lady of the City couldn’t bear to let the parentless girl go. But shortly thereafter, it was clear that Gavin and Judah had an unnatural bond — the emotions and physical sensations one person feels, t
Gavin and Judah and born on the same day in very different circumstances.  Gavin, high born and an heir while Judah is an orphan and taken in by the elite out of duty. The bond between Gavin and Judah grows intense day by day and they have a strange connection and both feel each other's emotions and sensations.  Gavin's father, Lord Elban has plans for all of them while his healer Nate has been planted in the family to represent his people and keep the pair alive since if one is gravely injured, ...more
Jan 08, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
- "perfect for fans of Game of Thrones
- the author's father-in-law is Stephen King and that really amuses me
- medieval & high fantasy
- tale of magic, faith and pride
May 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Started off really strong was really excited for this while readying and then things started to get Shakey , the one thing that could have ultimately made this book good was if it had an ending.
Jan 03, 2021 rated it liked it
“The girl who started life with no name and no history will soon uncover more to her story than ever imagined.” 3.5 stars.

It took me a while to pick The Unwilling up as I felt quite intimidated by it (it’s a chonker). I also typically read young adult and new adult fantasies, so I was uncertain how I’d get on with an adult fantasy. Being honest, it took me a while to become invested in the story and to comprehend the significance of the initial scenes (you are thrown straight into the plot
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-2020
I took a deep breath when I first sat down with this book. 576 pages is a commitment, right? Within my first couple hours of reading, I was delightedly surprised. I really enjoyed this book from start to finish.

It was definitely an intriguing fantasy plot intertwined with a medieval world. The Slonimi people - a traveling, gypsy-style clan - had worked for generations to breed their strongest Workers (Work being a sort of cross between magic and creation), to create an individual strong enough t
Zoe L.
Feb 18, 2020 added it
This book is haunting. There’s no better way to put it. I read it slowly and thoroughly and even when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it. And this is a big volume of the book, so I mean it when I said I took my time. It’s almost a feat for me that I didn’t binge a book for once. But this isn’t something you can binge. It’s dark. It’s a lot. And it’s difficult. But, I mean that in all the best ways!

As I was reading this I was distinctly reminded of another favorite author: Stephen King.
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was provided with an ARC of this title courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

This book was absolutely fantastic. I was held prisoner, hook, line and sinker from the very beginning.

I want to state that no matter what you have heard, this is not an HEA down-trodden heroine saved by the prince YA fantasy. The themes tackled here are brutal, dark and emotionally exhausting. This is a complex, intricate adult fantasy with effortless world-building and delicately
Laura (Bookie_mama_bear)
Thank you to & @welbeckpublish for my #gifted copy of The Unwilling.
Well this was one hell of a chunky book. I loved the premise of this and the base story was excellent. I really liked Judah & Gavin but Elly & Theron we’re my favourites by the end. It’s important for me to say, before I prattle on, this is the first in a series. It’s very clearly a foundation book to build up to what’s coming next. That said the underlying story is great, the characters are too and I absolutely loathed t
Stephanie - Books Less Travelled
Feb 16, 2020 marked it as read-for-review
*I received a copy from the publisher. This does not affect my review.*

This one is harder to review than I cared for. I normally don't mind 'darker' themes but this one was more detailed and unexpected than I'm used to. As Kelly Braffet is Stephen King's daughter-in-law, it strangely fits, and I can see readers loving this story, but it's not for everyone. I also got a sense of the GoT type writing in ways. The story was magical and unique but all the talk about abuse really needed a silver lini
Manda Scott
Nov 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clever, beautiful, unexpected.

I really wasn’t expecting anything intelligent in this cover,but it’s beautiful - the writing, the depth of the characters, the unravelling of power and the nature of corruption... and the deep, deep flaws of pretty much all the characters. I really hope there’s a sequel though I struggle to see where it would go. Though that’s the draw, obviously....
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Kelly Braffet writes stories about unhappy people making bad decisions, occasionally with magic. She is the author of The Unwilling (available 2/20 from Mira Books), Save Yourself, and Last Seen Leaving; her first novel, Josie and Jack, has been made into a feature film starring Olivia DeJonge, Alex Neustaedter, and William Fitchner, and directed by Sarah Lancaster. Her writing has been published ...more

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