Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Goodreads: In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees. . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what it is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place–and out of place, at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make–between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

I usually don’t review books so far in advance, I always wait within a two week before or after release date time period sometimes even waiting for paperback release to post a review. However I am breaking tradition today because I have to tell you about Unearthly by Cynthia Hand and why you need to pre-order it now!

I have read many of the angel books on the market right now. I have rarely liked anything in the angel genre save for Angelology which was an adult title. Cynthia Hand has rocked my boat with her take on Angels in Unearthly.

When Hand is describing something to you it is so clear that you feel you are there with the characters. The writing takes on an almost prose like quality and you can hear the sounds, see the surroundings. The story begins in Mountain View California which is in the Silicon Valley where I live now and being familiar with the early setting gave me an inside look at Hand’s descriptive prowess.

I look out the window into the yard I’ve grown up playing in, my old swing set that Mom has never gotten around to taking down, the row of rosebushes against the back fence that have been there for as long as I can remember. Behind the fence I can barely make out the hazy outline of the distant mountains that have always been the edges of my world. I can hear the Caltrain rumble as it crosses Shoreline Boulevard, and, if I concentrate hard enough, the faint music from Great America two miles away. It seems impossible that we would ever leave this place.

Clara is an angel-blood. She is one-fourth angel as her mother is half. Her dad is an ordinary man and mostly absent from the story. Clara begins having visions of a boy she has to save. Each angel-blood has a purpose that they have to accomplish in life and Clara’s purpose is to save this boy from an untimely death due to a forest fire. She is very gung-ho about her task but only being quad angel it is hard for Clara to obtain and use the powers needed to finish her purpose. She is a mostly normal teen girl who worries about things like her hair.

My hair is my best feature, long and wavy, bright gold with a hint of red, trailing behind me wherever I go like an afterthought. The problem with my hair is that it’s also completely unruly. It tangles. It catches in things: zippers, car doors, food. Tying it back or braiding it never works. It’s like a living thing trying to break free. Within moments of wrestling it down, there are strands in my face, and within the span of an hour it usually slides out of its confines completely. It takes the word “unmanageable” to a whole new level.

Clara and her family pack up and move to Wyoming. To a very small town. Clara’s purpose visions begin to come more frequently and she begins to figure out what she is supposed to do. We are also introduced to our big bad. The vision is reoccurring and we learn more each time Clara has it.

The vision comes to me then like a familiar friend, sweeping my bedroom way and depositing me in the middle of the smoky forest. The air is so hot, so dry and heavy, difficult to breathe. I see the silver Avalanche parked along the edge of the road. Automatically I turn toward the hills, orienting myself to where I know I will find the boy. I walk. I feel the sadness then, a grief like my heart’s being cut out, growing with every step I take. My eyes fill with useless tears. I blink them away and keep walking, determined to reach the boy, and when I see him, I stop for a minute and simply take him in. The sight of him standing there so unaware fills me with a mix of pain and yearning. I think, I’m here.

Unearthly is the story of a girl who many just have to give up everything in order to do the right thing. It is full of very fun angel lore and Cynthia Hand is a master at weaving in the mythical with the real. I absolutely adore this book and I can’t wait to hear what you guys think of it come January.

FTC Disclosure: I picked up Unearthly at the Harper Collins booth at the NCIBA conference.

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