Book Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Clara has known she was part-angel ever since she turned fourteen two years ago. But now she is finally getting visions of what her Purpose-a rite of passage for every part-angel-is to be, and it happens to involve a gorgeous guy. Of course, there is the raging forest fire surrounding them, too. When Clara's Purpose leads her family to Wyoming, Clara finds the boy of her visions, Christian, but complicating her mission are her growing feelings for another guy, Tucker. As the day in her visions draws closer, Clara discovers that her Purpose may play into a larger struggle between angels and Black Wings-fallen angels who spread sadness and misery wherever they go. But when the fire erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?
From debut novelist Cynthia Hand comes a riveting tale full of supernatural powers, forbidden romance, and the choice between fulfilling your destiny or following your heart.

Release Date:  January 4, 2011
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Age Group:  Young Adult
Pages:  448
Source:  NetGalley

This was the best angel book I have read yet (that includes Hush Hush, Covet, Angelfire, and Fallen).  Unearthly starts by introducing us to our heroine, Clara, who knows that she is part-angel. Clara's mom is part-angel also, and they have a really close bond.  I enjoyed reading about their relationship---it was nice to read about a young girl in YA literature who actually likes her parent(s).  

Clara is waiting to receive her Purpose---which she must fulfill as a part-angel, aka angel blood.  She starts having visions and knows that her Purpose is finally being revealed to her.  The visions include a forest fire and a handsome young man.  Clara and her mom figure out that the visions are taking place in Wyoming and Clara's mom moves the family to Wyoming in order to complete Clara's purpose.  

Soon after moving, Clara discovers the boy in her vision is Christian, whom she instantly starts falling for, despite the fact that he has a girlfriend.  Her new friend Wendy's twin brother, Tucker, is a source of constant ridicule and occasional outright hostility to Clara.  Clara can't figure out why Tucker hates her so much, until she starts to think that he may actually like her.  What follows is a sort of love triangle, which is very nicely developed.   Clara ends up having to choose who she saves when the day of the fire finally comes.  Her choice and the consequences following are the crux of the story.  

While angels are not my favorite paranormal creature to read about (I really don't know why that is) I enjoyed Unearthly.  The writing was good, the relationships were very well-developed, and the love story was very tender.  I'm looking forward to reading more from Cynthia Hand.

Just One Gripe:
It felt a little slow to me.  This is a constant problem for me with first-in-a-series books.  The world building always feels slow to me.  I think this is more of a personal problem than a problem with the writing here.

The Best Thing About This Book:
The angel blood premise.

Appropriate for a younger audience: 

Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5
Setting/Imagery: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Ending: 3/5
Total Score:  18/25


  1. I love the cover and the premise, but it's sad when it falls a wee bit flat, eh? Excellent balanced and honest review though! :)

  2. When I first saw this cover, I sure thought it was "Wuthering Heights" I swear, I have the edition that looks just like it ! lol

  3. I really enjoyed this books too! Nice review :)

  4. Love your blog:

  5. I was wondering about this one - thanks for the review! It *is* nice when a YA MC actually gets along with her parents :)

  6. First off, completely jealous that you got to read this! :D
    Second, fabulous review! I want to read Unearthly even more!

  7. O I loved this one :) Great review!

    I can't wait to learn more about what her mom is hiding.

    And that raven-haired bff?

    I'm so not sure about her.

    Go Team Tucker!

  8. Basically just repeat Juju @ Tales of Whimsy's post above! :) Enjoyed the story (I just finished in last night) and can't wait to find out what happens next!

  9. I have this one queued up to read, but I've got "Torment" and "Halo" to read first. I'll probably need an "angel" break and then pick it up. Thanks for your review. I now know what to expect when I pick it up.

  10. Fallen and Halo sucked so bad that I've been put off by even THINKING about reading another angel book, but I have heard good things about this one. If this isn't even bearable (I'm not even setting the bar high enough for it to be GOOD, just readable) then it will 100% be my LAST angel book I'll read. NO exception. The other ones that are out are so bad that they honestly hurt my very soul so fucking hard that I may not even go into heaven to see a real angel because WOW were they bad. bad I don't even know why ANYONE has said one positive thing about them. I mean really? REALLY? Are we reading the same material? And i'm the least picky reader! UGHH!!!!!

  11. I can't wait to read this one! I'm so glad to hear you think it's the best angel story yet, I just love the whole premise. I agree with you on the first-in-a-series slowness, I find that happens a lot. So excited to get my hands on this, thanks for tiding me over with a great review Kelli!

  12. All I have to say is, I wish I was part angel and had two boys after me ;) I really liked the characters, but I didn't like the wishy-washy attitude of the main chracter...I can't wait for the second one!


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