Gamin, Maine, is a remote seaside town where everyone seems to know Ellis Harkington better than she knows herself—but she doesn’t remember any of them.
Unknown events have robbed Ellis of her memory. Concerned individuals, who purport to be her friends and loved ones, insist that she simply needs to recuperate, that her memories may return in time, but refuse to divulge what has brought her to this state. For her own sake, so they say.
Ellis finds herself adrift in a town of ominous mysteries, cryptic hints, and disturbingly familiar strangers. The Nightbirds, a clique of fashionable young men and women, claim her as one of their own, but who among them can she truly trust? And what of the phantom suitor who visits her in her dreams? Is he a memory, a figment of her imagination, or a living nightmare beyond rational explanation?
Only her lost past hold the answers she seeks—if she can uncover its secrets before she fall prey to an unearthly killer.
ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
What a thoroughly enjoyable, mysterious and gripping read!
Ellis Harkington has no memory of her life before the day she wakes up on a train headed for a small, secluded town of Gamin, Maine. With her is a nurse who refuses to divulge much about Ellis's past, which Ellis soon discovers is something all citizens of Gamin agree upon. With no recollections of her former self, and no clear indication of who she is supposed to be, Ellis becomes preoccupied with finding the answers, all while having to decide who among her new friends and acquaintances is trustworthy enough to help her along the way.
Thus begins a curious game of cat-and-mouse. Except Ellis is the cat, and Ellis is the mouse.
I really can't praise this book highly enough for the level of intrigue and mystery it maintained throughout, and which kept me glued to the pages from start to finish. It's the sort of read when one is always startled to discover how far into the book they are. Time flies by, and the outside world ceases to exist.
And "time" and "the outside world" are two highly relevant concepts in "Unwept". This book is set during WWI, but in America, and in a town which considers itself "separate" from the war and the world in its entirety. It took me awhile to accurately place the period, as I shifted from WWII to the 1800s, based on the tell-tale signs and the overall impression I got from the actions of the characters. In the end, though, I managed to pinpoint the specific time frame. The mannerisms, the behavior, all the little quirks of the era are spot-on.
Having said that, do not be fooled into considering this book a slow read because it doesn't take place in the present day. It's anything but. Ellis is constantly on the move, always grasping at any hint of who she might be, or how she might have ended up where she did. She alternates between trusting others and suspecting them, and between trusting her own mind and doubting it in turn. Her frustration at her own lack of memory translated excellently to myself as a reader, and more than once I caught myself being just as unnerved as Ellis herself was. This anxiety is all the more pronounced given that the rest of Gamin seems to be privy to everything about her past, but divulges nothing.
And it soon becomes apparent that there's more to it than sheer mystery. The lines between reality and fantasy becomes blurry as dreams spill over into reality, and reality in turn becomes a center-stage for events which could only be dreams.
Or could they?
"Unwept" comes with my sincerest recommendations. It's just the right blend of mystery, fantasy, paranormal and suspense. And if you find yourself baffled by the slightly-perplexing ending, keep in mind that it's only the first book in a series.
I for one am most certainly purchasing the second.
RATING: **** 1/2
BOOK REVIEW: UNWEPT BY TRACY HICKMAN & LAURA HICKMAN
4/ 5Oleh The Honest Bookclub