Book Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees . . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart. (From

I’ve read a fair few Angel themed books over the last year, so it was going to take something pretty special to blow me away. Fortunately, Unearthly was just that. Beautifully written, captivating and with it’s very own twist, it was everything I’d hoped for and more. 

In Cynthia Hand’s debut novel we meet Clara, who is aware she is part Angel and has a purpose to fulfill on earth. I liked how this time we have a lead character who already knows what she is, there’s no journey of self discovery here as such and despite her awkwardness, she’s a strong solid character. She’s incredibly believable and easy to relate to too, suffering the same insecurities as other teens despite her super powers making her good at everything. This is used to cause conflict in Clara’s life as she attempts to hide them and not stand out. In fact Clara is played down quite a lot in this book and comes across as pretty much a very ordinary girl, which makes the fact she is special all the more exciting.

One of my favourite aspects of the book was the relationship between Clara and her small but tightly knit family. Her Mum is wise, caring, cool and a little bit of a pain in the butt all at once She’s a woman (or half Angel) with quiet strength and fierce loyalty to her children. I love how she isn’t over looked as a character. Given a fascinating back-story of her own, she isn’t just the ‘required parent’ but very much a part of this story. I also really loved the interactions between Clara and her younger brother, Jeffrey. I thought the sibling relationship was portrayed fantastically, reminding me of my own with my brother.

I also LOVED the Love Triangle in this book. Usually I find it very easy to pledge my allegiance to one side or another in love triangles. This time though my heart shifted between charismatic Christian and broody cowboy Tucker. Actually, the cowboy bit may have just swung it in the end 😀 While there’s nothing particularly new about this tug of love, it is well written and builds nicely.  It will certainly get your pulse racing with it’s 2 for 1 swoonliness and what more can you ask for really? 

Unearthly was more than I expected and has easily won it’s place as one of my top angel themed books. With a fresh take on Angel Mythology and a mysterious plot revealing some unexpected twists it’s addictive reading. I flew through it in one sitting and left thinking ‘wow!’ And luckily it doesn’t stop there, the ending sets up nicely for a sequel, Hallowed, due for release next year. Final thoughts on Unearthly? It’s Divine…and I highly recommend it!

Published by Egmont (UK) May 2011
Many thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review.

11 thoughts on “Book Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

  1. I also was blown away with Unearthly but I have to say I was always rooting for Tucker guess I just liked the cowboy gentleman type that is hard to get. Great review Vickie.


  2. I got this book from the library and could NOT get into it. I think i'm on page 50ish. I haven't decided if I'm going to keep trying.
    I just can't keep get invested- which has only happened to me like 3x ever. So it's very strange.
    Glad you liked it though!


  3. I've been hearing good things about this for ages – I'm glad you enjoyed it too. I love the UK cover for it as well! Thanks for the review – I've definitely got to read this one.


  4. I have to admit I have not read one Angel mythology book since the whole trend started. I think I got sick of it before it even started. For this one to blow you away and stand out from all the others, it must be fabulous. I will keep my eye out for this one.


  5. I love Unearthly. One of my fave books of 2011. I loved the love triangle in this one too, but I'm on Team Christian. I think I'm on my own, as everyone else seems to love Tucker. I kept picturing Christian as Chace Crawford, which probably accounts for my crush! 😀


  6. Oh man, I was at the point where I thought I'd give up on angel books in general ad then I go and read your wonderful review of this one and I'm back to really wanting to read it!


  7. Great review. I haven't read any angel themed novels yet and want to try the genre – this will probably now be the one I start with. I particularly like the sound of the family relationships which I really try to work on in holding my paranormal action fiction together.

    Unearthly is going straight on my Amazon wish list.


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