Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan was the kind of book I didn’t know I was longing for until it fell in to my lap, and I devoured it page by page. It jolted me awake with its authentic voice, unique lore, fast paced plot, and blend of humor & darkness. Plus I fell head over heels for the heroine of this story, Kami Glass.
Kami is a sassy, outspoken teen detective who dresses like a vintage film star, has a biting wit, and, oh, has an imaginary friend who she just found out is a real, flesh-and-blood individual. Not only that, two astonishingly handsome cousins, Ash and Jared Lynburn, have moved back to town with their creepy family in to the manor house that dominates Sorry-in-the-Vale, and this little Cotswolds town is all atwitter about their return. PLUS! To top it all off, someone’s trying to kill Kami, and she’ll be darned if she isn’t going to turn every corner of her town upside down until she catches the murderer herself (with the help of her friends, of course).
Sorry-in-the-Vale is charmingly articulated by Brennan. It reminded me of my own sleepy village in upstate New York that I grew up in, but also brought to mind haunted locales like Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre, or the eerie mansion in Rebecca. It was this combination of gothic mystery and comfort that hooked me in to Kami’s world. I also was drawn to the fact that Kami was an outsider because of her vibrant personality, but also because she’s part Japanese in a completely English town. It was inspiring to meet a character whose differentness doesn’t bring down her self esteem, rather it strengthens it.
While it was magical seeing Kami explore her connection with the Lynburns, the honest relationship she has with her girlfriends and family added depth to the story, underlining the fact that these bonds are real and complicated. In fact, I think it’s Kami’s belief in these wonderful, true aspects of friendship that makes her hesitate when she is faced with the choice to become romantically involved with a friend. Unlike many dime-a-dozen heroines, Kami is aware of the costs of losing oneself to love, and she doesn’t take the decision lightly.
There were moments in this book where I laughed out loud, and moments when I was on the edge of my seat, completely surprised at the turn of events on the page. I felt engrossed in Unspoken even before any supernatural elements were introduced (although they are fantastically original, and unpredictable when they are revealed). We leave Kami in a startling cliffhanger, and I’d grown so attached to the character, that I felt guilty, closing the book! Hopefully Sarah Rees Brennan won’t make us wait too long before we’re reunited.