Book review: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

I’m not going to lie. In the last couple of months I’ve become a little disillusioned with both Paranormal YA and sequels. The books tended to be so samey, the sequels disappointing. However seeing as how I loved Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly last year, I was willing to give second book Hallowed a chance. Am I pleased I did? You bet ya I am.
Warning: Possible spoilers for Unearthly. If you’ve already read that then you’re safe
Hallowed picks up just weeks after Unearthly ended. Clara is coming to terms with the fact she appears to have failed her purpose and struggling to make sense of it. But when she starts getting a new vision, it becomes apparent she’s going to lose someone she loves and her purpose isn’t over yet. Clara realises there’s much she still needs to learn, both about herself, her mother and the black wings whose threatening presence is always in the background.
So yeah, I was a little sceptical going into this one. In my recent experience, sequels rarely live up to the amazingness of the first book but Hallowed so did. Something about Cynthia Hand’s writing is just so addictive. Once in, I can’t get out; I get completely lost in the story and reading her books is an absolute pleasure.

What I love about this particular series though is how the focus isn’t just on the main characters but their whole family and wider circle of friends. Sure Clara is the main player, but her strength comes from those around her. In this book we find out much, much more about her mother Maggie and other angel-bloods. I really like the world Hand has created which is complex, mysterious and exciting. Things quite often turn out to be not quite as they seem, and Clara’s brother Jeremy in particular starts displaying some interesting traits. I’ve a feeling he’s going to really surprise us in the next book, which as yet is unnamed. Angela also intrigues me. There’s definitely more to her and in Hallowed it feels like foundations are being laid for a big reveal yet to come. 
I can’t talk about this series without mentioning Tucker and Christian. I have to hand it to the author, she’s managed to take the predictable and annoying love triangle cliché and keep me interested. Very interested. In Unearthly I was firmly team Tucker. In Hallowed, I’m not so sure. I want to still be team Tucker, but man does Christian come into his own here. Now I know the love triangle thing can be a bone of contention, but you know…if it’s done well I love it. And Cynthia Hand does do it well.
While Hallowed isn’t the most action packed novel you’ll read, it is a book of revelations, revealed secrets and intrigue. It’s left me wanting to know more and eager for book three. It also reduced me to tears at one point. Sad just doesn’t come into it. A heartbreaking situation is written with such delicacy and emotion I could barely see the words through my brimming eyes. 
My one regret about Hallowed is that Wendy is reduced to a sideline character and I missed the normalcy of her relationship with Clara and her wicked sense of humour. I felt of all things, Clara could have done with a bit more Wendy in her life in this book. It’s a shame that the truly human character in this series becomes less important than the angelic ones.

Wendy niggle aside, Hallowed was an amazing, emotional and captivating book and has smashed my run of disappointing sequels. This is without doubt one of the best YA series out there and one I’d recommend without any hesitation. 

Published by Egmont (UK) January 2012
Thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review.

7 thoughts on “Book review: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

  1. Fantastic review 🙂 I feel like I haven't read a paranormal book for ages, been so caught up with contemp! I think Unearthly might be a good one to start from again though, and I'm now rather looking forward to its sequel too 😉


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