Title: Unspoken Author: Celia McMahon
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: 4/5 Paws
Goodreads Synopsis: Princess Isabelle of The New Kingdom has lived her
entire life in the confines of her palace. She spends her time hunting for the
poverty-stricken Voiceless-people of the Old Kingdom who warred with her
kingdom and ultimately lost-and dreaming of a world beyond the walls of her
home. As the only remaining child of the king and queen, she is to be married
off by her eighteenth birthday.
When Izzy witnesses the use of forbidden magic in the woods outside the palace, she is attacked, and saved by an unknown man. Soon after she discovers her rescuer is a Voiceless servant in the castle named Fray, she befriends him to seek out the magic users who tried to kill her. Fray agrees to help, but not before Isabelle discovers the servant boy harbors a secret the king has tried to bury-that he is a Gwylis, people of the old Kingdom who made a pact with the demons of the underworld for the power to transform into giant ferocious wolves. But to shift into a beast, Fray must be able to speak the words to do so. If he is to thwart the attackers from killing her entire family, Izzy needs to cure the ailment that took away his voice.
But curing Fray holds more danger than she ever thought possible. The lies of her parents and the risk of putting her own life on the line deems as destructive as falling for the servant boy. If Isabelle is to save herself and Fray, she’ll need to face enemy Gwylis, cross paths with usurper kings and princes, and decide what side she is on-human or wolf-or lose her kingdom forever.
“I couldn’t tear myself away from watching the darkness gobble up the light without remorse. Many people feared it. Not me. There was beauty in its consumption. I had a home in the stars.”
This was a very enjoyable read for me! Unspoken gives you a little bit of everything you need from a book. There’s action, politics, romance, drama and moments that pull at your heartstrings. It also includes a few of my personal book niches like royalty, magic and WOLVES. Want to know the number one way to get me to read a book? Make sure there are wolves in it.
The main characters were a real strong point of the book for me. Isabelle, or Izzy as she usually goes by, is a strong female lead with attitude, independence and courage; she may be a princess but she’s no damsel in distress. She’s spunky, rebellious and finds peace in hunting in the woods (total Katniss vibes!!). She has strong ties to her deceased brother, Henry, and many of her decisions throughout the book are dictated by her wish to continue on with the mission he started.
“’Where are you off to?’ I asked. ‘Dark deeds under a dark sky,’ he signed.”
Fray, a Voiceless servant in the castle, and his exquisite blue eyes may have just become one of my new favorite fictional boyfriends. He’s a bit rough around the edges when the reader is first introduced to him, but his fierce loyalty is extremely admirable and he won be over SO quickly.
Our other contender for Izzy’s heart and a future spot on the throne of Stormwall is Prince Ashe. Of the many suitors that have visited Stormwall in the hopes of winning Izzy’s love, Prince Ashe seems like a highly likely candidate. He’s confident and charming, yet steady and kind. Celia is an absolute genius for the dichotomy she produced between Ashe and Fray. Where Ashe seems familiar and safe, Fray is wild, blunt and dangerous. Ashe is always wearing a smirk while Fray scowls. Ashe comes from a place surrounded by water and conveys the gentleness and predictability of the tide while Fray is of the forest and has the attitude and grit to match. Both of these guys would be so easy to fall for; Izzy’s got a difficult decision to make all while her mother is pushing her for a future she’s not sure she wants.
While I found the descriptions of the main characters to be thorough and very well done, I wish that some of the side characters had been developed a bit more. Izzy’s mother, the queen, came across very flat and one-dimensional to me. Her whole demeanor was meant to come across as indifferent and impenetrable but I thought she was just boring and rude. Izzy’s cousin, Lulu, also fell short as a character to me. She came across as very naive. She’s made out to be very loyal to her cousin but other than that, her only personality trait is boy-crazy.
“’You do what you heart tells you do to.’ ‘The heart isn’t so reliable.’ ‘Even though that is true, it is more reliable than the words of some people.’”
One side character that I did absolutely love was Pedoma, Izzy’s maid. Of course, á la Dorota from Gossip Girl, Pedoma is one of my favorite underrated characters in the novel. She comes through with insightful advice and comfort whenever Izzy needs her and it was really nice that Izzy had someone on inside the castle she could fully trust.
“Revenge was a wave, and I sank beneath it.”
The content and plot lines of this book were incredible. The plot was so captivating and I enjoyed the fact that it was fast-paced and ever-changing. The reader discovers a lot throughout the book that changes the course of action of many characters so drastically that this book went in an entirely different direction than I originally thought.
I loved the concept of the Voiceless and including sign language was really cool! This isn’t a common topic in books so it was nice to have that represented in a whole group of people. I really enjoyed the romance in the novel as well! It wasn’t always a main focus but there was just enough to have it be a good balance where it neither was lost or took over the story.
I do think that the fighting scenes could have been written a bit better; the sequencing and flow was a little off for me and I found it a little difficult to follow at times. I’d normally like to be able to picture battles as they’re happening and I couldn’t get there with this book. However, this didn’t impact my understanding of the book so it wasn’t a point of major chagrin for me.
“In a path of fire, she will walk. And out of the flames, a beast will rule.”
Unspoken was a fast, action-packed read that got me hooked early on. After reading this book by a debut author, I will definitely be following Celia McMahon and the rest of this series into the future!
Also, bonus points for a great dedication! “To the girls with fierce hearts, and stars in their eyes.”
Let me know in the comments below if you’re planning on reading this book!