Cover Image: Unseelie

Unseelie

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A YA fantasy involving two sisters on a very ill-planned adventure. Of course they are interested in different futures.. Of course one sister has magic but doesn’t want it. So we have to go through the denial, resistance, slow acceptable, etc. Of course they meet up with a boy with his own secrets. It was too predictable to be honest, I kept waiting for something to surprise me and it never came. 

Thank you NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Very YA. The sisters relationship and the changling/autism correlation was wonderful representation without feeling heavy handed.
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I will add my review when the Harper Collins strike ends and the workers receive fair wages.

Thank you, NetGalley and Inkyard Press for the arc.
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Plot: 4.5
Characters: 4.5
Writing Style: 5
Cover: 4.5
Enjoyment: 4.5
Buyable/Re-readable?: YES. I will follow this series through, hands down.


I think this is another contender for Top Ten of 2022. Hm. Yes, indeedy I do. I requested this on whim too, not entirely certain I'd enjoy it; turns out it was hard to put down, making it difficult to finish since I was also reading "Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions” (Grate/Rapino), which was also difficult to stop reading.  xD

"And if you see yourself in these pages, I want to tell you what I wish someone had told me. You are exactly the way you were meant to be, and you are the hero of your own story." - Housman

 ▶ Told in first person POV, steadily paced with plenty of action, downtime bonding/fleshing out, character growth, and little to no romance. 
 ▶ Divided into three parts.
 ▶ Includes dragons, fae/faeries, shapeshifters, changelings, magic, enchanters, brownies, etc And it is magic with consequences. - “It’s greedy.....Magic always takes, from someone or something. Even if you don’t see how at the time. It won’t… it won’t want you to forget the price.”
 ▶ Tackles inclusion; "How do you write about autism without using the word autism? This book was inspired by the theory that changeling mythology is an early description of autistic children."
 ▶ I'll admit that I didn't *quite* follow the adoption/kidnap thing. At least, not until the end did it make a tiny bit more sense.
 ▶ Ohhh, their wagon is similar to Thistlefoot (GennaRose Nethercott)! Magic gives it personality.
 ▶ Iselia/Seelie sometimes reminded me of Elsa from "Frozen". She is also quite clumsy, and as someone who is also clumsy, I like this.
 ▶ At first, the sister, Isolde, is almost Mary Sue-ish? But Seelie acknowledges this, and there's something at the end that could explain it. And it's sort of like in Harry Potter, where it’s borderline meta acknowledged that All Things Happen to Potter. Didn't ruin anything, either.
 ▶ Alright, so maybe it’s a YA, etc dealy, in that the books can be repetitive in general? And I only notice when it's a book I don't like? Something to do with teen/tween attention span? I don’t know, but when Seelie did repeat herself to us, more often than not, it didn’t grate my nerves like it has previously done.
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I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up Unseelie, but the story I got is somehow more. This is a beautiful tale of what it means to be different and how difference isn’t always the crux of what divides us. I can’t wait to read the second book in the duology! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy (book out 1/3/2023).
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Will add review when the Harper Collins strike ends and the workers receive fair wages. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Teen/Inkyard Press for the ARC. All opinions are my own.
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I received an ARC of this book and really enjoyed it. I give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.
The book follows twins Seelie and Isolde as they try to uncover more about their past and the lives of the faeries in their world. It's a strong debut for the author and I think the plot and pacing were well timed as slowly more of their past is revealed. It definitely falls into YA territory and some of the story line and how it played out was expected but it still was a fun book to read, and I look forward to picking up the next book in the series.  I really liked reading a book from the perspective of someone who is autistic. That was very well done and felt fresh for me. It was easy to follow the world through the writing without pulling you out or making the sole focus her struggle to be understood.
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Thank you to Inkyard Press for the eARC!!
This seemed like a really interesting book, and I was excited to pick this up. Unfortunately, I was not able to finish it and had to DNF it. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that l've been incredibly busy with school and so many other things and I've gradually just lost interest. I managed to make it 20% in before had to call it quits, as it really wasn't enough to capture my attention and keep reading. If I had read this faster and wasn't as busy, perhaps I would have finished and enjoyed it more, but for now, l'm going to have to DNF it as I have quite a few books that I want to get through this year.
1/5 stars.
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I think I was mostly got by the fact that this book has an autistic main character, as I don't think I've ever actually read a book representing someone like me in that way before (and the fantasy element was a bonus).  I can definitely relate to Seelie's anxiety, strong emotions, difficulty communicating at times, and struggles with social cues.  She's also a bit immature, but that's understandable due to a. the fact that she's seventeen, and b. most of this resulted from anxiety, fear, and self-loathing.  So while I found her a bit frustrating at times, I can still understand where she's coming from.  I've never felt self-loathing on the level she does, but I do know what it's like to feel like a puzzle piece that doesn't quite fit.  I also enjoyed being able to watch her come to terms with the powers she holds that set her apart from her sister, friends, and the world at large, and realizing that they are, in fact, a strength.  That is most definitely a message that needs to be shouted from the rooftops for all autistic people to hear.  It isn't shouted enough.

The overall story was well-done.  Searching for "buried" treasure always makes for a fun story, and the characters of Seelie, Isolde, Raze, and Olani are all very well-developed and suited to each other, even with the ups and downs of allyship and new friendship.  It was fun accompanying them on this journey and being able to watch them grow.

I found the magic system in this book quite interesting, as well as how the different stratifications in society resulted from the presence of magic and fae, both between magic users and non-magic users, and between magic users of varying strengths and abilities.  I found the history and lore intriguing, and I'm looking forward to seeing this delved into even more in the next book.

Finally, I would like to give Ivelisse Housman a huge thank-you for writing this book and putting it out into the world.  Stories like this with autistic representation are so incredibly important and necessary, and I'm glad this exists!
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This book is amazing, I really enjoyed reading this. My favorite thing about the story was the characters, they were well written and developed quite nicely. I absolutely loved Seelie. I can't wait to read the next magical book.
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Ahhh I absolutely loved this book and the representation of autism! It’s very rare that we get accurate rep in fantasy books. I was absolutely hooked on this book and devoured it in one sitting! I can’t wait to read more from this author!
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4.5🌟 Fae. Magic. Dragons. Heists. Quests. Adventuring between fae realms and reality. This story was a lot of fun to read. On top of that, the MC is autistic. Seeing more representation in media is needed and Seelie, the protagonist, had my heart. I NEED THE SEQUEL NOW!

TW: ableism, mentions of child abuse, self-harm for magical purposes, violence/blood, mild body horror

Thanks NetGalley for this eARC for an honest review!
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I received access to this through Netgalley for an honest review.
DNFed this at 32%. I found it to be kinda boring and honestly wanted to stop at 14% but I was trying to make myself finish it. 

There was nothing wrong with the story or the characters, it just really didnt interest me. I thought it was cool to have a story about an autistic changeling and given how they told the story of how their mother kept them, it seems to be based on a Tumbler writing prompt I saw a while ago which was also interesting sounding. 

Seelie is a bland narrator and while I want to be respectful to the fact that autistic individuals are often blunt about things, the way she tells stories are boring. It was a great premise but not my cup of tea. I'm giving it 2 stars because the premise sounded cool
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What an amazing read! Well developed characters and worldbuilding. I cannot wait to see the sequel. Seelie is an amazing protagonist with her not coming off as a pure heroine but one with imperfections. Her growth through the journey is beleivable and understandable.
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What I liked about the book:

1. I was definitely drawn in by the cover! The colors, the sisterly bond, the badass stances. It all screamed “PICK ME UP AND DEVOUR ME!”

2. I’m a sucker for a good ragtag group trying to solve problems and overthrow the government/monarchy, which this book definitely had in spades. I also liked that the characters were strategic and good at their own things, but they ALSO got their asses handed to them plenty of times. They weren’t all invincible and time and time again it showed with the circumstances they ended up in.

3. I liked the characters for the most part, though I felt they were rather surface-level except Seelie.

Seelie is the underdog main character for sure. She has been misunderstood and a misfit her whole life because of being a changeling and because of being on the spectrum. I loved how the author was able to show little signs of Seelie being autistic without ever addressing it directly; being an autistic writer, she definitely knew what she was doing when she showed us rather than told us. It was creatively and wonderfully done. My problems with Seelie came down to she was boring and a bit selfish at times. This for the main character along with some pacing issues we’ll talk about in a bit, left a lot to be desired for me.

Isolde reminds me so much of my best friend, Michelle. She is fierce, she is patient, and she is a little ruffian! I wish we got more insight into her character, as I felt she was always being overshadowed by Seelie.  

Olani was just flat-out a badass. I loved seeing her militant fighting style, but then also seeing her tenderly heal others. It was such a good juxtaposition for her character and I wanted more! I also have this really BIG need for her and Isolde to end up together!!! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!! Again, I felt we only scratched the surface of her character unfortunately.

Finally, I liked that Raze, who I can only assume is going to be Seelie’s love interest in book 2, was not the “typical” hulking hero. Yes, the boy was strong, but he was also a little round and had stark red hair…so basically I pictured a less insufferable Ron Weasley the whole time. This, along with his humor and grin, had me loving him for Seelie instantly!

What could have been better:

1. As mentioned previously, I felt none of the characters were dove into satisfactorily, except Seelie who was almost unbearable for me at times.

2. “The start of a swoony, high-energy duology”…hmmmmmmm. There was no swoon because there was no confirmed love interests. This was also definitely not high-energy. The pacing at times left me fighting the urge to skim or left me rereading several paragraphs I zoned out during. Never a good sign, but especially bad when you advertise as “high-energy”.

3. Sisters in a strange, magical world where everything and everyone isn’t as it/they seem? I feel like I’ve read this book before…there was nothing really original about the plot and there are so many other books in this arena that are breathtakingly done that it’s unfair to compare…but someone has to!


Final Thoughts: Heavy YA, heavy fantasy. Read if you enjoyed The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

Final Rating: 3 stars!

Thank you to NetGalley, Inkyard Press, and Ivelisse Housman for the free copy of this e-ARC. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.
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Unseelie is a whimsical and thought-provoking story of sibling love, self-acceptance, and the challenges of being neurodivergent. Seelie and her twin sister may look alike, but they experience the world quite differently; Seelie is an autistic changeling who has struggled to fit in with the people around her ever since she was left in the human world as an infant faery. This book was my first time reading a novel from an autistic character’s point of view, and I’m impressed with how artfully the author managed to convey Seelie’s perceived social estrangement (especially considering it’s a fantasy world where no one has our modern understanding of neurodivergence). Seelie’s frustration and loneliness were palpable throughout the story, to the point where I (like her) almost needed a break from her adventure. Seelie was a sarcastic, lovable, and altogether refreshing protagonist. Unfortunately, I think the rest of the book fell into too many typical YA fantasy tropes, and was oftentimes predictable and difficult to follow. I thought the beginning was stronger than the ending, but overall I enjoyed the writing and thought the story was well-paced. 4 stars from me, and I'm looking forward to a sequel!

- Tiktok review posted to @beth_and_books (11/18/2022): https://www.tiktok.com/@beth_and_books/video/7167405991015779590?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc&web_id=7167392536247207467
- Goodreads review (11/17/2022): https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5105815019?book_show_action=false
- Instagram review posted to @beth_andbooks (11/30/2022): https://www.instagram.com/p/Clm4bmBOHcX/
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this books had it's strengths in it's characters, without a weak plot. One of the strongest things is the fmc being autistic, because it is written in a very natural way  that is effectively impossible to find in other novels, much less in fantasy novels, and it felt refreshing to read a neurodivergent character that didn't feel like a caricature (probably because the author is autistic, and she could use her own experiences). I also really loved how all of the characters were written, because they all felt human and dynamic.
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There were times when this book was a perfect middle readers book, but then it had graphic bloody fights scenes. The issue with that is, that this isn’t a YA book except that it does all the YA tropes of “keeping secrets for no good reason” stuff.  I would have liked to see this be toned down so it could be a four star middle readers book.  Still, I will be lining up for the sequel.
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I am not the target audience for this book, but I am a YA librarian and read YA all the time. So, I'm aware that some aspects of these books may ring false for me but work the intended audience. 

Because of this, I tried to put aside my dislike of Seelie who is, frankly, a self-absorbed whiner. Descriptions of the book say she is autistic, but I only see that description being accurate is it is being used a metaphor.  She's a Changeling, so she is 'different' from others, and she is shunned because of that. However, the way she interacts with others does not come across like an autistic person. Seelie's biggest problems stem from her choices, not from something she was born with.

Isolde, on the other hand, is mature and wise and has the patience of a saint, especially when it comes to dealing with her twin. Over and over again she tries to steer Seelie into making the right decision, or at least to not make the worst decision. Mostly she fails and when she finally loses her temper with her sister, it is a huge relief.

Seelie's big objection is that she doesn't want to use her magic. She throws multiple tantrums about it, and not only endangers the others in her party, but gets them seriously hurt. She vacillates between using the magic to refusing to use it to not knowing how to use it and back to refusing to use it. By the time the book was over, I completely disliked her.

The overall plot is interesting, if not original. The book leaves you hanging in a big way, so you have to read the second book to find out how it all ends. I doubt I will read the next one, and I am on the fence as to whether or not I will add it to my library. Maybe teens will like it more? Most of the female readers I have want strong girl protagonists, not aggravating ones.  I will not use it for our book club. 

In short, Unseelie is a pass for me.
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Thank you, Netgalley, for this opportunity! Unseelie is a story I did not anticipate enjoying as much as I did. The character development was excellent, and the relationship was beautiful. I especially appreciated the author's note at the beginning about how they are autistic and how the creation of this story was a way to express a different side to autism that is not as seen in media portrayals. I can not wait to read other Iverlisse Housman works!
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