The Library of the Unwritten

The Library of the Unwritten

by A. J. Hackwith

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Overview

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 unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil's Bible. The text of the Devil's Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781984806376
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Series: A Novel from Hell's Library Series , #1
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 14,129
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

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 Seattle, 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 RPGs, or you can find her on Twitter and other dark corners of the Internet.

Read an Excerpt

9781984806376|excerpt

Hackwith / THE LIBRARY OF THE UNWRITTEN

1

CLAIRE

Stories want to change, and it is a librarian’s job to preserve them; that’s the natural order of things. The Unwritten Wing of the Library, for all its infinite magic and mystery, is in some ways a futile project. 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.

Librarian Fleur Michel, 1782 CE, Unwritten Wing, Librarian’s Log entry, Personal Ephemera and Errata

Books ran when they grew restless, when they grew unruly, or when they grew real. Regardless of the reason, when books ran, it was a librarian’s duty to catch them.

The twisty annex of Assyrian romances, full of jagged words and shadowed hearts broken on unforgiving clay tablets, had a tendency to turn around even experienced curators. The librarian, Claire, cornered the book there. The book had chosen to take form as the character of a pale, coltish girl, and her breathing was nearly as ragged as Claire’s was from the run. Claire forced her shaking hands still as she approached. The book was young, and so was its character, back pressed into the bookcase, dandelion-­fluff hair fluttering around thin shoulders. Muddy jeans, superhero tee, a whimper like dried reeds. “Please. I can’t—­I don’t want to go back.”

Damn. Claire preferred them angry. Angry was simpler. “The Library has rules.”

A flicker of color swung around the corner. Her assistant, Brevity, skidded to a stop just short of the book. Her apple-­round cheeks, usually a shade of robin’s-­egg blue, were tinged purple from the run. Seafoam green bangs puffed above her eyes, and she mumbled an apology as she handed Claire a slender bit of steel wrapped in cloth.

Claire stowed the tool in her pocket, where it would stay, she hoped. She considered the cowering figure in front of her.

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 stacks, but now and then a book woke up. Felt it had a purpose beyond words on a page. Then the story made itself into one of its characters and went walking.

As the head librarian of Hell’s Unwritten Wing, Claire had the job of keeping stories on their pages.

The girl—­No, the character, the book, Claire corrected herself—­tried again. “You don’t get it. In the woods—­I saw what it did. . . .”

Claire glanced down at the book in her hands and read the gold stamp on the spine. The font was blocky and modern, clearly signaling this was a younger book despite the thick leather hide of the cover. It read: dead hot summer. Her stomach soured; this job had ruined her taste for the horror genre entirely. “Be that as it may, you have nothing to worry about. It’s just a story—­you are just a story, and until you’re written—­”

“I won’t make trouble,” the character said. “I just—­”

“You’re not human.” The words snapped out before Claire could censor them. The girl reacted as if she’d been slapped, and curled into the shelves.

Claire took a measured breath between gritted teeth. “You can’t be scared. You’re not human—­let’s not pretend otherwise. You’re a very cunning approximation, but you’re simply a manifestation, a character. A book playing at human . . . But you’re not. And books belong on shelves.”

Brevity cleared her throat. “She is scared, boss. If you want me to, I can sit with her. Maybe we can put her in the damsel suite—­”

“Absolutely not. Her author is still alive.”

The character zeroed in on the more sympathetic target. She took a step toward Brevity. “I just don’t want to die in there.”

“Stop.” Claire flipped open the leather cover and thrust it toward the character. “This is only wasting time. Back to the pages.”

She looked uncertainly at her book. “I don’t know how.”

“Touch the pages. Remember where your story starts. ‘Once upon a time . . . ’ or what have you.” Claire slid a hand into her pocket, fingers finding metal. “Alternately, stories always return to their pages when damaged. If you require assistance?”

The scalpel was cool in her palm. It was normally used in repairing and rebinding old books, but a practiced hand could send a rogue character back to its pages.

Claire had plenty of practice.

“I’ll try.” The girl’s hand trembled as she flattened a small palm against the open pages. Her brow wrinkled.

A chill of quiet ticked over Claire’s skin. The books weighing down nearby shelves twitched sleepily. A muffled murmur drifted in the air. The wooden shelves towering overhead pulsed with movement, old leather spines shuffling against the bronze rails. Dust shivered in a spill of lamplight.

Brevity shifted uneasily next to her. An awake book was a noisy thing. Returning it, even noisier.

They couldn’t waste time. The girl startled when Claire took a quiet step toward her. “I’ve almost got it!”

“It’s all right.” Claire spoke through a tight throat, but her tone was gentle. She could be gentle when it was efficient. “Try again.”

The unwritten girl turned her attention back to the pages. It was an act of contemplation, and Claire could sense the weaving of realities. The girl was a character; she was a story, a book. She might feel like something even more, but Claire couldn’t afford to consider that. She placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Then she slid the scalpel between the character’s ribs.

Brevity swallowed a squeak. Claire stepped back as the unwritten girl fell. She made small, shocked gulps for air, twisted on the carpet, then began to fade. Within a minute, nothing was left but a small smudge of ink on the floor.

Only books died in Hell. Everyone else had to live with their choices.

“Couldn’t we have given her another minute? It’s awfully hard to feel like the good guys when we do that.” Brevity took the book after Claire snapped it closed.

“There’s no good or bad, Brev. There’s just the Library. The story is back where it belongs.” Claire couldn’t keep the resignation from her voice. She cleaned off and stashed the scalpel back in her many-­pocketed skirts.

“Yeah, but she seemed so scared. She was just—­”

“Characters aren’t human, Brev. You always should remember that as a librarian. They’ll convince themselves they’re people, but if you allow them to convince you, then . . .” Claire trailed off, dismissing the rest of that thought with a twitch of her shoulders. “Shelve her and make a note to check her status next inventory. What kept you so long, anyway?”

“Oh!” Brevity fluttered a hand, and Claire was struck by the eerie similarities between her assistant and the book they’d just put to rest. Brevity was shorter than the character had been, and her riot of cornflower blue skin and bright eyes was vibrant with life—­not scared, not pleading—­but her gaze kept drifting back to the dull leather cover in her hands. “There’s a messenger for you.”

“Messenger?”

Brevity shrugged. “From the big guy. I tried to get more, but he’s wound pretty tight. Swore he can’t leave until he talks to you.”

“How . . . unorthodox.” Claire turned down the row of towering shelves. “Let’s see what His Crankiness wants.”

When they emerged from the depths of the Unwritten Wing’s stacks, Claire found the demon sweating holes into her rug. It was a particularly fine rug, peacock blue and intricately dreamed by an artist of the Ottoman Empire. Dreamed but never made, which made it all the more irreplaceable.

The scent of rotten eggs curdled the Library’s pleasant smell of sleeping books and tea, scalding her nose. A bead of sweat fell from the nervous demon’s cuff and hit the carpet with a hiss. Claire closed her eyes for a count of five. She cleared her throat. “Can I help you?”

The demon jumped and twisted around. He was scrawny, all bones and amber skin in a cheap oversized suit. He appeared human, or at least human adjacent, as most demons did, save for the pinpricks of ears that poked up through an oil slick of springy black curls. He bit his lip, managing to look skeletal and innocent at the same time, and he held a thin purple folder in front of him like a shield. “Ms. Claire, of the . . . Is this the Library?”

“That generally is where librarians are found.” Claire sat down at her desk. She eyed the repair work she’d started, while Brevity returned to sorting books on a cart. “You’re in the Unwritten Wing. You may read, or you may leave.”

“Oh, I’m not here to—­” The demon twitched. Claire tracked his movements out of the corner of her eye, giving the text in front of her only cursory attention. The books stacked on the corner of the desk gave a lazy growl, and the demon sidestepped quickly away. His nervous gaze landed on her hands. “Is . . . is that blood?”

Claire glanced down at the hand that had held the scalpel. She wiped her fingers on her skirts and returned to her work. “Ink.”

The book open on the desk was one of the young ones, one that still had a chance of being written by its author someday. Brevity had misfiled it with a particularly crotchety series of old unwritten novels. Whaling stories, if Claire remembered right. The impressionable young book now had all sorts of rubbish jumbled in its still-­sprouting narrative. Five-­paragraph descriptions of food, meditations on masculinity and the sea, complete nonsense for an unwritten tale about teenage witches in love. If its author began to write while it was in this state, she would never attempt another book. It was Claire’s job to keep the books ready for their authors in the best possible state. Tidy. Stories were never tidy, but it was important to keep up appearances.

When she didn’t look up again, the demon coughed and shook loose another bead of sweat. It hit the rug with a dull hiss.

Claire winced. She pressed her scalpel flat against the book. “You’re damaging my rug.”

The demon looked down at his feet. He stepped off the rug awkwardly, found himself on an even more complex rug, and shuffled again.

He’d be at that all day, and Claire would be at repairs all night. She reluctantly turned from the book she was working on, pressing one elbow on it to keep it from creeping off. A slow, deep frown pulled on her face as she gave him a better once-­over.

Young, Claire assessed—­the young seemed determined to plague her today. A junior demon, though young demons didn’t venture to the Library often. Most of Hell’s residents got reading privileges only after decades of clawing for power. He fidgeted under her scrutiny and combed through his wiry, ragged hair. It made her want to find him a brush. Suspicion tinged with familiarity tugged at her. No demon felt quite right, but there was something exceptionally off about hellspawn with anxiety. Claire raised a brow at Brevity, but her assistant just shrugged.

“You’re . . . unexpected. I understand you were sent by His Grinchiness?”

He licked his lips. “Yes, but . . . you can’t . . . you can’t call him that. His Highness, I mean. There’s a message. I got the brief here.” The demon held it out, eager to be rid of it. Claire didn’t move, so he added, “It says a book is missing. I’m supposed to tell you . . . it’s . . . ah, one of yours.”

Claire stilled. “In what way?”

“Because it’s unwritten? Early twenty-­first-­century unauthor, still living.”

Ah. The tension crept off Claire’s shoulders. “Stolen or lost?”

The demon pawed through the folder before withdrawing a small stack of printouts. “They suspect runaway. No recent checkouts or in­vocation alarms . . . whatever that means.”

She grunted. “It means my day is shot. A runaway.”

A bewildered look spread across the demon’s face. “Is that . . . ?”

Claire waved a vague hand. “It means an unwritten book woke up, manifested as a character, and somehow slipped the Library’s wards. A neat trick that I will be keen to interrogate out of it later. It is likely headed to Earth. There’s nothing stronger than an unwritten book’s fascination with its author. But a book that finds its author often comes back damaged, and the author comes out . . . worse.”

“I’ll pack the scalpels,” Brevity said, and received a dark look. Claire rubbed her temple, a fruitless gesture to forestall the coming headache, then shot out her hand.

“Just give the report here.” She released her hold on the open book, and it happily snapped shut, barely missing her fingertips.

The demon deposited the paperwork in her palm and quickly hopped out of reach. The books stacked on her desk complained with growls that ruffled their pages.

“The author’s alive? Where?” Brevity asked.

He shrugged. “A place called Seattle.”

Claire groaned as she squinted at the paperwork. “It’s always the Americans.”

Names were a necessary nicety even Claire had to tolerate. The demon introduced himself with a very clumsy bow; this small bit of etiquette helped him to relax and stop sweating acid everywhere. Claire frowned at his name. “Leto. Like the Greek myth?”

The skinny demon ducked his head. “Like from the sci-­fi novel.”

“So, you’re a demon of . . . ?”

“Entropy.”

“They sent a demon of entropy to a library wing full of irreplaceable artifacts?” Claire stared at Leto and then shook her head, muttering, “I will kill him. Positively kill him.”

Leto twitched. “If you don’t mind my asking . . . how, ah, how can you talk about His Highness like that?”

“Simple,” Claire said. “The Library exists in Hell; it doesn’t serve it. He’s not my Highness.”

Leto paled, and she dismissed it with a wave. “It’s a long story. Don’t worry yourself. I still follow orders. This is Brevity, muse and my assistant in the Unwritten Wing.”

“Former muse. I flunked out.” Brevity made a face and offered her hand.

If Leto was a scarecrow teenager in appearance, Brevity was of the sprite variety. Her hair was spiky and short and a dainty shade of sea glass. Beneath the cuffs of a multicolored jumper, propane blue tattoos flowed over paler cornflower skin in a shifting series of script that almost appeared readable, at least until one tried to focus on it.

“Nice to meet you, ma’am.” Leto shook her hand shyly, taking care to keep his fingers back from the ripple of tattoo.

“Hey! A demon with manners. I like this one,” Brevity said.

“Many demons are perfectly polite to me,” Claire pointed out.

“No, many demons are intimidated by the Library, boss. There’s a difference,” Brevity said as Claire pulled out a drawer in search of tools.

The mundane tools of a librarian’s trade included notebooks and writing implements, and the less usual: inks that glimmered, stamps that bit, wriggling wax, and twine. All of them went into a bag that Claire slung across her chest. Pen and paper went into the hidden pockets of her muddled, many-­tiered skirts. She’d been buried in some frippery that was dour even for her time, all buttons and layers. She’d chopped the skirt at the knee long ago for easy movement, but Claire lived by the firm moral philosophy that one could never have too many pockets, too many books, or too much tea.

It wasn’t as if she had proper hours to maintain. Claire squinted at a squat copper sundial, fueled by a steady if entirely unnatural light all its own, and scribbled a new line in the Library’s logbook. It was thick and ancient, crusted with age and the oils of a hundred librarian fingerprints. It also never ran out of paper. Claire flipped from her personal notes to the “Library Status” log and ended an entry with a flourish, and the lights in the hall began to flutter.

The Library is now closed. All materials must be returned to the shelves. A disembodied voice, clipped and dull, echoed through the hall. Claire tapped her foot as the voice continued. The Library is now closed. Patrons are reminded that any curses, charms, or dreams left behind are considered forfeit to the stacks. The Library is now closed.

There were not many patrons lounging around the reading area, but the few imps that were reading put down their books reluctantly, and began to make their way to the exit, much to Leto’s slack-­jawed amazement. Creatures of Hell, on general principle, took to following orders as well as one might expect. Which is to say, not at all and with liberal interpretation. Most of the Library’s regulars were powerless imps and bored foot soldiers, but one beefy incubus with horns, clad in little more than chitin and scar tissue, handed his book directly to Claire with a grunt.

Claire clucked her tongue. “No sulking. You know we don’t do lending. It’ll be here for you tomorrow, Furcas. Go on now.”

Leto managed to close his mouth before his sputter could ruin another rug. “That—­ Was that . . .”

“Intimidated. Told you,” Brevity said.

Once the remaining patrons disappeared out the great doors, Claire closed the log and swept toward the far wall. Leto clung to her heels, and Claire bit back a smile. The Library was fickle, eerie terrain, especially to demons.

From the main desk, the cavernous space ran back into shadows in all directions, and every available surface was layered with wood or parchment of varying ages. Rows of shelves filled with books ran high over their heads, and larger tomes crouched at the end of each row in quivering packs. Plush rugs of riotous color muffled the floor. Every visible wall space carried an oil canvas, with images in various states of completion. They governed themselves with their own regular rotation and changes. More paintings hung on a monstrous series of pivoting racks at the far back, draped in shadow like a leafy thicket.

Claire’s target was the far wall, a large section of buttery pale yellow drawers. Endless rows of drawers that hadn’t been there a moment ago. The Library functioned on requirement, shifting and flowing to the needs of the books and librarians. Leto eyed it with anxiety, but Claire shoved the folder back into his hands. She began to scale a ladder clipped to a rail. “Author name and story title?”

“Ah . . .” Leto opened the file. “Author, McGowan. Amber Guinevere McGowan.”

Her foot stabbed out at the wooden wall, and the ladder coasted a few feet down the row of drawers. “McGowan. Right. God, middle name Guinevere? What were her parents thinking? No wonder she never became a writer.” Claire yanked a drawer open. “Title?”

“Uh, the missing title just says ‘Nightfall.’ ” Leto looked up as Claire let out a snort. “Something wrong?”

“I think every writer, written or unwritten, has some glorified adventure titled ‘Nightfall’ stuck in their head. Half the residents here were a ‘Nightfall’ at one point. Even unwritten stories eventually migrate to something more original.” Claire danced her fingers over the drawer before snapping up a card. She slid the drawer closed and descended.

Her sneaker-­clad feet hit the ground, and Claire headed for the exit. “Calling card says it’s definitely still in Seattle. Brev, you up for a field trip?”

Brevity’s gold eyes grew to saucers, and she stumbled forward in a little dance. Her voice wasn’t quite a squeal but flirted with the idea. “You mean upstairs?” she said breathily. “Always and forever, boss.”

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The Library of the Unwritten 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Caroldaz 1 days ago
The description was promising but I did not find it a gripping read. I enjoyed it and would certainly give the sequel a chance. I just found the plot hard to follow. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
S_White_1218 6 days ago
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I'm really glad I didn't DNF this book. It was slow starting and took forever for me to get invested, but I feel like that was probably more a *me* issue than a *book* issue, so please take my average rating and review with a grain of salt. What an original concept! It was quite a ride, and the idea behind it all - that there is a library in the afterlife where those books and other art projects that never get finished reside - is really unique. Add into it the imagination that went into bringing them to life, the muses, the Damsels, the different afterlifes and characters, and you had a pretty good book. I'll consider reading the next one, and hopefully be pleasantly surprised to find that my slow investment and boredom at the beginning *were* just my mood and not the book. Recommended with the warning that the first half might be a little slow to get going and hard to get into.
Suzanne Costner 7 days ago
Claire is the Head Librarian in charge of the Unwritten Wing. In Hell. Yes, all stories not finished by their authors are shelved in a neutral space in Hell, off-limits to the various factions always striving for dominance under "His Crankiness," as Claire calls Lucifer. The main job of the librarian is to keep the characters from manifesting as a physical presence and tracking down their authors, demanding to be completed. "There's nothing stronger than an unwritten book's fascination with its author." But Claire's latest retrieval job goes pear-shaped when a fallen angel decides that she and her companions have the Devil's Bible. Can they all survive long enough to retrieve the missing Hero, solve the mystery of this ancient volume all the demons and angels are after, and make it back to the library? The story is intriguing and the setting puts a unique spin on what the afterlife might be like. In this world, "We all get the afterlife our soul requires." Various realms of the afterlife like Valhalla or ancient Egyptian planes all exist, along with a Heaven managed by Uriel in the Creator's name, and the darker realm of "His Grouchiness." Claire wound up in Hell, although we aren't told the reasons behind that determination. Her assistant is a former muse named Brevity, and details on her backstory are even sketchier than Claire's - which gives readers good reasons to check out the next book in the series. Other companions include the demon courier Leto, the escapee from the unwritten book, and Andras the Curator of the Arcane Wing of the Library. Bits and pieces of each character's past are woven into their interactions with each other, building the tension as readers begin to see connections between what is happening and previous choices and actions. Scenes such as a duel between bards in Valhalla are captivating, and there are lots of juicy quotable bits such as "Only books died in Hell. Everyone else had to live with their choices." (Doesn't that need to be on a t-shirt or coffee mug?) By the end of this adventure there are alliances, betrayals (what else can you expect in Hell), and some changes within the power structure of the afterlife. And the characters are poised to begin the next book - as long as it doesn't wind up on the shelves in the Unwritten Wing. Highly recommended for YA and adult readers who enjoy stories that deal with the power of books and words, adventures through various realms, and tough librarians. All quotes are from that ARC and may be subject to change before final publication.
PenKay 13 days ago
I’ve never read a book by this author before, and I was intrigued by the premise of this one. I was afraid, though, that it might be a little hard to understand, but my fears were for naught. The concept of unwritten books was clear and easy to understand for the most part. I really liked the characters in this one, and quite enjoyed the plot. I did find it hard sometimes to connect to the characters, especially Claire, and TBH, I’m not completely sure why. However, don’t get me wrong, I really did enjoy this very well-written book, and I do intend to read the next. I was really happy to see an extremely unique premise of the book in a genre that’s filled with the same tropes and universes, which I don’t mind, but it’s nice to see something different. All in all, this was a great book urban fantasy readers would find entertaining. Recommend! I was provided a copy and voluntarily wrote a review.
taramichelle 13 days ago
I recently finished The Library of the Unwritten and found this debut novel utterly enchanting. I was pretty much sold on this one as soon as I looked at the cover. And somehow the book itself was even better than the synopsis. The world-building was fantastic and so incredibly unique. I loved the idea of a library of unwritten books that can come to life unexpectedly. The characters were also really well developed and nuanced. I definitely got way more attached to them than I had planned (at the end, I sighed with relief when I saw that there’s going to be a sequel) This book was funny and creative and it had a fantastically entertaining plot. Although they’re not really anything alike, I got a similar feeling from this one as I did from The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (which I also adore) If you’re looking for a unique adult fantasy novel, absolutely check this one out! I can promise that you’ve never met a librarian or a book quite like those contained in these pages. *Disclaimer: I received an advance digital copy of this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
marongm8 13 days ago
This book was received as an ARC from Berkley Publishing Group - Ace in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. This book was so interesting I could not put it down. I love the concept of a library in hell and that there is a space where books go that are unfinished by the authors whom are now dead. Now with the twist of the hero escaping and how they hold the devil's bible which holds the entire force of heaven and hell and how they hold everyone's fate including their own and everyone wants the power. The concept from beginning to end was so breathtaking and enticing that I could not put this book down and it's new and different enough that everyone of our patrons will be wanting to read this book. We will consider adding this title to our Fantasy collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
Librarian_Steph 13 days ago
Really all you need to do to get me to read a book is tell me it's about books or libraries or librarians, so when I found out "The Library of the Unwritten" was about all three of those things I knew I had to get my hands on it. I was not disappointed! Claire is the Librarian of the Unwritten Wing of Hell's Library, where books unfinished by their authors sit in a sort of literary limbo. Occasionally, the books wake up and one of their characters tries to escape to Earth in an effort to find their author and get Written. When that happens, Claire must hunt them down and return them to the library. Unfortunately for Claire, and her muse/assistant librarian Brevity, what should be a normal retrieval goes horribly awry when a scrap of the Devil's Bible shows up. Now Heaven and Hell are poised on the brink of war and poor Claire is caught right in the middle. I loved every second of this book. Just apart from the fact that it's about one of my favorite topics, I found the characters fun and sympathetic (I would totally hang out with these people!), the plot well-paced, and the story thoroughly engrossing. I'm already on tenterhooks waiting for the second book!
Reader4102 13 days ago
Books, whose authors don’t finish them, are sent to Hell’s Library of the Unwritten. Claire is the Head Librarian there and it’s her job to track down any characters who escape their books to search for their author. When one such character, a hero, escapes, Claire must find him. Hero’s author lives in Seattle and Claire, with her assistant Brevity, a former muse, and Leto, a new and very nervous demon courier, head there. Of course, something goes wrong. This book is cleverly conceived and very well-written. The concept of the Library of the Unwritten being in hell makes sense since there’s no need for libraries in heaven because everything is perfect and there’s no need for escapism. Hackwith has created a section of hell and a great large library full of unfinished manuscripts, pieces of paper with book ideas, and characters with no story attached to them. The characters in this book are well drawn and likable, if somewhat stereotypical. Claire, the librarian, is a stern woman who takes her job very seriously. Brevity, a former muse, is quirky and endearing. Leto, the newly formed demon, is like a teenager and is disconcerted by Claire’s lack of respect for his boss, Lucifer, but he goes along with Claire and Brevity on their quest because he’s not yet sure of the rules so doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do. If you’re looking for something different to read, try this book. You’ll smile a lot, shake your head now and then, but always enjoy the read. Luckily for us, this is the first book in a proposed series. Thanks to Berkeley and Edelweiss for the eArc.