I’ll be honest, I finished “Unraveling” by Karen Lord weeks ago but have not had the energy or desire to write this review. Unfortunately, it was an arduous read for me. I had to force myself to pick it up and often found my mind wandering while I read it. When I finally did finish it, the only emotion I felt was relief. “Unraveling” is a classic example of very fascinating concepts that just never came together.
“Unraveling” is a murder mystery steeped in Caribbean folklore. It begins with a forensic psychologist believing a series of ritualistic murders had just been solved. But after a near death experience, she is intercepted by two demi-god brothers who reveal the true killer has not been caught. So they guide her through labyrinths in a netherworld so she can travel through the past, present, and future and solve the case. And there are angels and undying people and amulets. Or at least I think that is what it’s about? I don’t really know. The story jumps around in time, perspective, and reality so often and without explanation that I felt I was traveling my own labyrinth just trying to decipher what in the hell was going on! I’m not saying it’s bad for a book to be complex or take some work to unpack, but the reward better be worth it… and this one just wasn’t. Though unraveling (pun intended) the serpentine narrative was very difficult, the book wasn’t all pain! The writing was often beautiful. Especially in Lord’s descriptions of the demi-gods and angel, she really captures an otherworldly quality of these characters.
My main issue is that the book is marketed as a “standalone fantasy novel.” It wasn’t until I did a little research that I found out that it takes place in the same world as Lord’s previous book “Redemption in Indigo” (2010). Even many characters and overarching concepts are introduced in the previous book. Though the story of “Unraveling” is standalone, the reader is expected to have this previously acquired information. In fantasy/sci-fi an understanding of the world is vital for comprehension and enjoyment of the story, so I feel like reading “Unraveling” without reading the previous book set me up for failure! Maybe that’s why I was so lost? Or maybe it was just an overly complex book with interesting concepts that just never came to fruition!
** Daw Books provided me a copy of the book for honest review
- Title: Unraveling
- Author: Karen Lord
- Published: June 4, 2019 (Daw Books)
- Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
- Booky Nooky Rating: *