ARCs Blog Tours Book Reviews

[BLOG TOUR] ARC Review: The Unwilling by Kelly Braffet

[February 4, 2020 – February 18, 2020]

Thank you to Mira Books and NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review. The Unwilling by Kelly Braffet is on sale February 11, 2020.

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1 out of 5 [DNF @ 30%]

Recommend to Others?: No


ABOUT: The Unwilling is the story of a young woman, born an orphan with a secret gift, who grows up trapped, thinking of herself as an afterthought, but who discovers that she does not have to be given power: she can take it. An epic tale of greed and ambition, cruelty and love, the novel is about bowing to traditions and burning them down.

For reasons that nobody knows or seems willing to discuss, Judah the Foundling was raised as siblings along with Gavin, the heir of Highfall, in the great house beyond the wall, the seat of power at the center of Lord Elban’s great empire. There is a mysterious–one might say unnatural connection–between the two, and it is both the key to Judah’s survival until this point, and now her possible undoing.

As Gavin prepares for his long-arranged marriage to Eleanor of Tiernan, and his brilliant but sickly younger brother Theron tries to avoid becoming commander of the army, Judah is left to realize that she has no actual power or position within the castle, in fact, no hope at all of ever traveling beyond the wall. Lord Elban–a man as powerful as he is cruel- has other plans for her, for all of them. She is a pawn to him and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

Meanwhile, outside the wall, in the starving, desperate city, a Magus, a healer with a secret power unlike anything Highfall has seen in years is newly arrived from the provinces. He, too, has plans for the empire, and at the heart of those plans lies Judah. The girl who started off with no name and no history will be forced to discover there’s more to her story than she ever imagined.



My Review:
Warning: book contains graphic mental, emotional, and physical abuse.

This book was just too sad and underwhelming for me to continue. It started off great – Gavin and Judah’s strange connection was an interesting part of the story. But after maybe the first chapter or so my enjoyment plummeted into boredom.

Nothing was happening. Huge info dumps. Little to no action. All of this for long stretches of pages. I kept hoping the story would change and pick up but it never did. Because there was nothing to hold me to the story I grew more and more detached from the characters and plot. There was nothing to care about with exception to the awful life Judah, Gavin, Elly, and Thorn have lived.

This story just wasn’t for me. And I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I should never read books with such political and familial sadism. Especially, when it seems like there is no hope or positivist involved. I unfortunately could not finish the story. Too dark for me.

Photo Credit Missy McLamb


Kelly Braffet is the author of the novels Save Yourself, Last Seen Leaving and Josie & Jack. Her writing has been published in The Fairy Tale Review, Post Road, and several anthologies. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and received her MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University. She currently lives in upstate New York with her husband, the author Owen King. A lifelong reader of speculative fiction, the idea for The Unwilling originally came to her in college; twenty years later, it’s her first fantasy novel. Visit her at


Social Links:
Author website:
Facebook: @kellybraffetfiction
Twitter: @KellyBraffet

READ EXCERPT HERE >>> The Unwilling Prologue Excerpt.docx

4 replies on “[BLOG TOUR] ARC Review: The Unwilling by Kelly Braffet”

Yes, that. I know some people really liked it, so there is an audience for it. Just wasn’t my cup of tea. Glad you enjoyed it though 🙂


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