Review Blog

Oct 03 2013

Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

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The Lynburn Legacy Book 2. Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, 2013. ISBN 9780857078094.
(Age: 14+) Paranormal, magic, mystery, romance, identity.
This is the sequel to Unspoken in the new series from Sarah Rees Brennan, who previously gave us the most amazing Demon Lexicon trilogy. To briefly recap, Unspoken is a mystery story in which the protagonist Kami Glass, part journalist, part miss-bossy-boots, sets out to discover who is trying to take over her beautifully named village, Sorry-in-the-Vale. We discover early that she speaks constantly to a voice in her head, a boy named Jared, who has spoken back for as long as she can remember. Of course it shouldn't surprise us that the alarming, almost mystical events at the village coincide with the arrival of two gorgeous cousins, one of whom turns out to be the elusive Jared. But in person, he isn't quite the boy Kami thought. The story moves quickly into a paranormal mode and the ending is so shocking and heart-breaking, that I almost couldn't force myself to read the next one.
In both narratives, Rees Brennan uses snark like some authors use cliches - often and without fear. But unlike the cliche-card carriers, she is also witty and clever. Kami is a delight. She is fearless and a bit reckless, but also loyal and true. Her best friend Angela dislikes people intensely, and her brother Rusty, a laconic martial arts black belt, are just two of the secondary characters developed fully and sensitively. The cousins Ash and Jared are suitably enigmatic, and we don't blame Kami for being suspicious and cautious.
In Untold, Kami and her little band of scoobies are still battling the evil villain who tries to 'persuade' the village to return to the 'old ways'. This basically amounts to the villagers being offered luck and good fortune in return for a blood sacrifice, which allows the magicians to harness their power. When I put it like this, it all sounds a little far-fetched, but honestly what magic story doesn't? For about half the novel Kami and Jared are kept apart, but eventually they find their way back to each other (be patient dear reader). It won't surprise you to hear that all the way they are dealing with threats, conflict, and murder attempts. The overwhelming concern is that their side just isn't powerful to take on the might of the other. This situation is not really conducive to tender romantic moments, but there is one, and it is perfect.
Once again, we are left with a horrible cliff-hanger, but I believe with all of my optimistic little heart that Rees Brennan will find a way to make it all end happy-ever-after. This is not my favourite series ever, but I do like that it is original, extremely witty, and that it offers a range of positive representations of both ethnic groups and sexual orientations. These are much needed in YA fiction.
Trisha Buckley

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