This review and others are posted at Read, Rinse, Repeat.
***Note – This review contains spoilers of the first novel, Unearthly.***
Oh, Cynthia – you had me at Unearthly. But you've started to lose me with Hallowed. Not completely; not by a log shot. But much of the magic that was in Unearthly just was not here for me. Let's start with the BIG REVEALS. Now, I like a big reveal; who doesn't? But one heaped on top of another can start to feel cheap. Or manipulative. We had a lot of them in Unearthly, up to and including Christian's shocking revelation that he, too, was an angel, so I thought things would settle down a bit in the sequel. The first big “surprise”, involving Clara's mother, seemed like a lot of melodrama over something that was not terribly surprising; I felt as though I was missing something. (Maybe that something is my emotional chip, but that's a discussion for another day.) It seemed as though it was supposed to be very dramatic and upsetting, but all I was thinking was, “All of this angst over THAT?” When the BIG SAD MOMENT finally came, I felt almost no emotion.
And then we get another huge shock from a character we've not yet seen (if you've read Hallowed, you know the one.) My first reaction was, “Wow, great surprise!” Then I felt irritated. And finally, I acquiesced; it did, after all, add some drama to the story. But I'm still not sure if it was really necessary. Of course, we can't forget Clara's big twist. While I did enjoy the new mythology that this twist brought, it was all becoming a bit hard to swallow.
But we're not finished yet, because Christian still has to make his own big reveal. Honestly, I just rolled my eyes at this point.
One final complaint – why didn't we get more Angela?? She was one of my favorite characters in Unearthly, but she was absent from much of Hallowed.
And yet, this is still Cynthia Hand. I do love the romances with two great male leads; Cynthia knows her way around a good love triangle, and it's easy to see how Clara can be conflicted. Truthfully, if this book was written by another author, I would probably have given it another star. But Cynthia set my expectations so high with Unearthly, and I don't like to be disappointed. I'm allowed to be a little arbitrary, right? That said, there's not a doubt that I'll be reading Boundless, because I am hopeful for a return to the greatness of Unearthly, and in the last three pages, Cynthia pulled me right back in again. Let's still be friends.