Published by Mira on February 11, 2020
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Historical
Praise for THE UNWILLING“Kelly Braffet is extraordinary… Familiar yet entirely unique, The Unwilling is the sort of story that seeps under your skin and pulses there, intimate and vibrant and alive. Fantasy at its most sublime.” —Erin Morgenstern, New York Times bestselling author of The Starless Sea and The Night Circus“A juggernaut of an epic fantasy novel with ingenious, thrilling twists and turns. Put this on the shelf beside Naomi Novik and George R. R. Martin. Kelly Braffet is a marvel and I’ll read anything she writes.” —Kelly Link, MacArthur Genius Recipient and and of Get in Trouble“Kelly Braffet’s The Unwilling is a viscerally powerful book. Full of complex and compelling characters, this is the story of the corruptions of power and the strength it takes to resist. This is an incredible, brilliant story.” —Kat Howard, author of Roses and Rot“Gorgeously told, The Unwilling is at once a sweeping epic and an intimate portrait of being trapped in an oppressive regime. Meet your new favorite fantasy writer.” —Gwenda Bond, New York Times bestselling author of Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds“Suspenseful, magical, wonderfully written, and never predictable, Braffet’s first foray into speculative fiction is an essential addition to all epic-fantasy collections.” —Booklist, STARRED Review“Wow…The characters, the world, the magic and greed and politics and pain–all of it adds up to something wonderful. I love it.” —Ellen Datlow, award-winning editor and anthologist
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 comes to realize that she has no real position within the kingdom, in fact, no hope at all of ever traveling beyond its castle walls. Elban—a lord as mighty as he is cruel—has his own plans for her, for all of them. She is a mere pawn to him, and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
But outside the walls, in the starving, desperate city, a magus, a healer with his own secret power unlike anything Highfall has seen in years, is newly arrived from the provinces. He, too, has plans for the empire, and at the heart of those plans lies Judah… The girl who started life with no name and no history will soon uncover more to her story than she ever imagined.
An epic tale of greed and ambition, cruelty and love, this deeply immersive novel is about bowing to traditions and burning them down.
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, the other will die as well. So Judah is both treasured and a pariah.
This book seemed longer than it should be and I found myself trying to hurry through some of the more descriptive parts. It depicts a dreadful life with people making dreadful decisions and you wonder if anyone can possibly be happy. Judah is the bright spot of this book as she discovers her own power, both magical and as a person. This book is a very dense epic in the vein of The Game of Thrones. If you like sweeping epics and lots of minor characters, you will love this story.
Kelly Braffet is the author of the novels The Unwilling, Save Yourself, Josie and Jack and Last Seen Leaving. Her writing has been published in The Fairy Tale Review, Post Road, and several anthologies. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University and currently lives in upstate New York with her husband, the author Owen King.