Release date: 2nd May 2011 UK
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Angels / YA
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Egmont
Unearthly is a compelling story of angelic destiny and teenage rebellion.
Clara is part-angel. She inherited her divine abilities from her mother. At fourteen she learned that she will be given a purpose, a duty that she must fulfil upon this Earth. So when she experiences a vision of a boy at the mercy of a forest fire, she is ready to accept her destiny and find a way to save him. With her mother’s help, Clara begins to decipher the heavenly message and it leads her to Wyoming. Along with her brother Jeffrey, they start a new life in Jackson Hole. Sixteen year old Clara becomes the new girl at a rather unusual school and sets out to discover more about the mysterious boy from her vision.
There is no denying that I was completely swept up in this story. I loved all the angelic references. I loved Hand’s interpretation of an angel’s inner light. She calls it ‘glory’ and it is both a wonderful and terrible experience for Clara. But my favourite aspect of the angel mythology in this book was the concept of purpose. The idea that there is a divine purpose that an angel must fulfil is so interesting. It leads to so many questions of inner conflict. What if you are not strong enough to fulfil your purpose? What if by fulfilling your purpose you cause something terrible to happen? Who has the right to give you a purpose? How do you find the faith in yourself and your God to see it through?
There is undoubtedly a risk of alienating non-religious readers in exploring such an idea. But as someone who will happily admit to being a fence sitter and not having a religion, I felt that the author hit just the right tone. A book about angels without any reference to God is just plain weird. God and angels go hand in hand as a concept as far as I am concerned. In my own interpretation they are the servants of God. Which brings us nicely to the concept of Lucifer and the idea that one might choose to rebel against the will of God. Because let’s face it, if there is a human aspect to angels then that humanity leads to free will and arguably the selfish desires of the human heart. Hand does touch upon the fallen angels but there seems to be so much more to come in future books. This is a trilogy, thanks goodness! I certainly cannot wait to see which direction she takes the series in.
Fans of paranormal romances, and frankly romance in general, will be besotted with Tucker. He is a self-proclaimed cowboy – boots and all. Tucker’s character is very much earth-bound. He felt “earthly” in contrast to Clara’s “otherworldly” nature. Tucker’s family are not well off and he has multiple jobs. He loves to ride and has a way with horses. He knows the landscape of the hills and alpine slopes of the area around Jackson Hole. As a love interest, he is swoon worthy. But he also acts as a gateway for Clara to become one with the “new world”. The setting is beautifully described by Hand and furthered the sense of wonderment to the story. Perhaps the true glory in this book is the way it makes you feel so alive and in harmony with nature.
There is still so much more I could say about Unearthly. There is the theme of friendship and isolation. There is the important portrayal of Clara’s mother – it was a delight to see a parent very present in a paranormal story for a change. It is a book that I cannot wait to read again. If you’re looking for a great angel story with all the trappings of teenage angst, this is for you. Unearthly gets The Bookette’s seal of approval! And ok I admit it, her adoration too.