Author: Sara Ella
Series: Unblemished #1
Genre: Christian Fantasy
Publishing Date: October 11, 2016
About the Book:
Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?
Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.
But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.
Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.
Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?
I was beyond excited when I was able to get my hands on a copy of this book! This could come as a shocker to many who know me, considering I generally stick to “reality” when it comes to reading. This one was well worth the switch to fantasy though 🙂
As Eliyana’s character is revealed, I quickly felt empathetic towards her. She blames a lot of her insecurity on her birthmark, but you can see her wounds run deeper. In several places throughout the story when she faces an emotionally vulnerable situation, she closes herself off and says in her mind “Don’t feel. Don’t care. Don’t love.” She attempts to withdraw from the possible heartache, afraid of facing rejection. My heart broke for her and hoped she would ultimately find happiness and security.
Sara Ella masterfully created several reflections (worlds), and gave them their own unique characteristics. Then on top of that, the relationships she developed were not only complex, but increasingly interconnected. It was Narnia meets Once Upon a Time (the ABC show). That also means there was a lot of detail to attempt to retain. Once Upon a Time traveled to realms we’ve all at least heard of, but how does an author show the world (in writing) a realm we’ve never heard of before? I say this not to scare you or turn you away from the book, but more as a heads up that you’ll want to read it during times when you have the ability to focus. I wouldn’t exactly call it a “beach read.”
I was really intrigued by how well everything fit together like a puzzle. Even if they weren’t related, the majority of the characters were connected in one way or another. The book introduces “Callings” or special abilities that people are (or aren’t) marked with that start to reveal themselves in adolescence and will follow them into adulthood. The characters’ Callings equip and protect them in battle while still maintaining a balance of power. While their Callings are able to be used as a strength against some people, they are limited in the ways they are able to use them against people of other Callings (or even themselves).
Unblemished was an intense action-packed adventure from the very beginning. The story was able to draw out all sorts of emotions from the reader. An author has succeeded when they are able to not only create a relatable character, but meld the reader’s mind to them, causing you to feel the intense emotions as if you’re standing in their shoes. This book certainly sucked me in and got my blood pumping and my heart racing!
Although this is a battle of “good vs evil” story, it describes it as “verity vs void.” Without giving too much away, what I found intriguing was that it wasn’t merely “good guys vs bad guys.” Everyone had to fight to resist the void and/or seek the verity. Everyone had their own flaws. The complexity and depth the author weaved into the battle was remarkable, and it will leave you thinking long after you’ve closed the book.
One thing I admit I wasn’t a fan of was the “fake cursing.” While the actual language is clean throughout, there were several instances of implied cursing like “son of a troll,” and “what in the void.” It still left the book technically clean, but I didn’t really find it necessary either. During some of the more intense action scenes, there was also some fairly graphic bloody scenes to be aware of. Saying it just as a warning.
This is a rather small thing, but I LOVED that Joshua’s eyes were described as “cerulean” which happens to be my favorite color. If you’re not sure what it looks like, don’t do a google search because every shade of blue will appear. Just Open a box of Crayola crayons instead 🙂
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and can’t wait to start reading the next book in the series (which happens to be right next to me). Even though I’m not usually a fantasy fan, the thought-provoking complexity had me captivated. I highly recommend!
Age Appropriateness: This story is marketed as young adult. While it is intentionally written to appeal to a teenage audience, it does contain some content that could be difficult for younger readers to handle. There is quite a bit of violence throughout the story. More than a specific age, my recommendation would be based more on maturity level. I would encourage parents to practice caution when allowing younger teens to read.