Unwept follows the story of Ellis Harkington as she tries to remember her history, especially where she came from, where she's been, why she woke up on a train, why she can't remember the people in the town of Gamin who claim to know her, why she has knowledge of certain things while mostly blank about everything else, and above all, is she really dead, or alive?
This story truly takes a page from the long running TV series The Twilight Zone in that you are not really seeing what you are seeing, and if you truly do believe what you are seeing, then perhaps you have been swallowed up by the writers twisted imaginary, or need to go back and re-read the last chapters.
I do believe that the Hickman's leave the reader with just enough rope to hang themselves with by jumping to early conclusions. You absolutely must read the story to the very end to figure it all out for yourselves. There are subtle hints that are left like cookie crumbs for Jack and Jill to come tumbling down after. Then again, the characters themselves are a character study on how to pull off one of the most impressive catch-22's in a long time.
Ellis is stuck on a merry-go-round with no way to get off of the ride. She just needs to hope that the ride ends with mechanical failure so she can get off in time to save herself. She glimpses things that she believes could be the truth, while being told by those around her that she's experienced something unhealthy, and therefore, needs to rest.
I absolutely took some chances with what I thought was happening in the story, and was admittedly sidetracked by the differences between Merrick and Jonas, which are as different from heaven and as it is to hell. As the mystery widens and expands, and the more people try to tell Ellis that everything she imagines has to be in her head, because it really never happened, you start to wonder even more if perhaps this setting wasn't something supernatural in nature.
I think readers really need to pay close attention to the opening and closing chapters for hints as to what is truly happening to Ellis, and why you will most likely need to pick pick up the second installment in order to figure out of she gets back to where she started before being thrown into a time period that apparently is straight out of an early 20th century magazine.
Props to the Hickmans for creating one of the creepiest settings for a story. Props for writing a character who doesn't necessary take everything she sees, or is told at face value, but let's her mind wonder, and sets out on her own to discover what truly caused her to end up in the strange little town of Gamin.
Author(s) - Tracy & Laura Hickman
Title - Unwept (The Nightbirds # 1)
Released by Tor Books
Published: July 1, 2014
Genre: Mystery, Paranormal
Format: E-Book 272 pages