Book Review: Unraveling by Karen Lord

Title: Unraveling

Author: Karen Lord

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Daw Books
Publication date: June 4 2019
Hardcover: 304 pages

Dr. Miranda Ecouvo, forensic therapist of the City, just helped put a serial killer behind bars. But she soon discovers that her investigation into seven unusual murders is not yet complete. A near-death experience throws her out of time and into a realm of labyrinths and spirits. There, she encounters brothers Chance and the Trickster, who have an otherworldly interest in the seemingly mundane crimes from her files.

It appears the true mastermind behind the murders is still on the loose, chasing a myth to achieve immortality. Together, Miranda, Chance, and the Trickster must travel through conjured mazes, following threads of memory to locate the shadowy killer. As they journey deeper, they discover even more questions that will take pain and patience to answer. What is the price of power? Where is the path to redemption? And how can they stop the man–or monster–who would kill the innocent to live forever? 

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Review copy from publisher

Format (e- or p-): ebook

Review

As she walks back home from work one night,
forensic therapist Miranda Ecouvo is startled by her own doppelganger walking
beside her just as a bus is about to hit her (them?). Plucked out of this
near-fatal accident, Miranda is thrust into a dream-like outworld of mazes of
time and memory where she needs to confront some truths about a serial case
murder she thought had been wrapped up. Under the tutelage of immortal-turned-mortal
brothers Chance and the Trickster, Miranda learns the person who has been arrested
was not working alone and there is a mastermind behind it all, someone whose
goal is to achieve immortality. When she wakes up into her own world again, Miranda
is in hospital, recovering from an accident she doesn’t remember, ailing from
lingering wounds that will be with her forever, and with only a faint memory of
the dream-like experience she just had.      

But impossibly, a spider talks to her, there
is the deep knowledge of the truth behind the murders nag at her and so, the
maze continues. There is nothing else to do but to solve the case, consequences
be damned.

A fantastical  stand-alone murder mystery with a time travelling element, the latest – and highly anticipated – novel from award-winning author Karen Lord is an intricate maze-like narrative that mirrors the mazes of memory and time that exist in the novel. The authorial choice of allowing the reader be – just like Miranda herself – disoriented by being thrust into a story that feels like it’s half way its own unraveling is a bold one. And even if at times, this reader did feel confused and bewildered, the disentanglement of the narrative ultimately pays off.

Beyond the brilliant construction of narrative,
the storyline is one that takes upon itself to address multiple topics. One of
them is the power inequality both between mortals and immortals but also within
the mortal world. A privileged Miranda eventually allows herself to notice the societal problems within the
City she lives in (those who live there as a Freeman and those who live outside
looking in) and working to address these issues becomes a life-long mission –
something that could not happen without learning the past of the people
murdered. There is also the matter of second chances, of change and the ever-evolving
nature of the world affecting its main characters.   

Although this new novel can be read as a stand-alone, the world is the same as the author’s Redemption in Indigo as are some of its fantastical elements. In addition, Chance and the Trickster’s actions in that first novel have lingering effects that kick-off the plot of Unraveling. All of this to say: you don’t necessarily need to read Redemption in Indigo to understand and appreciate Unraveling but 1) it would help and also 2) you should totally read Redemption in Indigo because it is a brilliant piece or art.          

It was hard not to hold great expectations for Unraveling after loving its predecessor Redemption in Indigo so much. Even though those expectations were not entirely met, I was swiftly swept away into a world and plot that beautifully unraveled before my eyes.     

Rating: 8 – Excellent

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