A young curandera, a medicine woman, intent on uncovering the secrets of her past is forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop. Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, The Unholy is a novel of destiny as healer and slayer. Native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision.
I enjoyed The Unholy. When I finished it I could understand why it was an International Book Awards Winner. The descriptions are amazing. The story drew me in and I liked seeing the characters inner selves slowly revealed as it progresses. It is an interesting take on good and evil. It reveals how religion can be twisted and used for evil as well as good.
While I liked The Unholy, there were a few things that prevented it from completely blowing me away. Unfortunately they are tied in with things I did like so I'm going to do this review a bit differently and let you know what I liked while at the same time what I didn't. Instead of just separating it into two different categories.
Let's start with the characters. The story centers on two main characters, on good and one evil. It does an enthralling job of showing the reader exactly how each are not only driven by their chosen side, but how they got to be where they are in their respective lives. By the end of the book I could completely understand why Claire choose the path she did and why she reacted to the people in her life as well. I could also see why Archbishop Anarch had chosen the path he did and why he was so driven to willingly sell his soul for the power he desired. However the other characters in the book...While the reader could relate to them, their background was not nearly as satisfying. Also while some of their motives were made clear, others just seemed to be lacking. A perfect example of this is the archbishops assistant, Father Gall. He is obviously evil and it's hinted at that he has had a history that brought him to know the things he does now and how to do them. But considering how much effort was put into the main characters, it just seemed not as much was put into his background, just bits and pieces. I would have loved to find out more about some of the supporting characters and how they became involved, both in Claire's life and Anarch's.
The story itself pulled me in from the beginning. Besides the obvious fight between good and evil, there are also the family secrets that surround both Claire and Anarch. I turned each page eagerly awaiting to see what would be revealed next. The only issue I had with it was at the end. I don't know if the author needed to keep the story a certain length or what, but the end just felt rushed. It all comes to a sudden climax in the last few pages. After reading the entire novel I just felt that there could have been, should have been, more. The book is quite obviously a stand alone novel and the ending leaves everything tied up in a neat little bow, but the way it ended was just so sudden. After pages of in depth descriptions of the world, as well as the characters and their experiences, I just expected more for the grand finale.
The descriptions that I just mentioned are the only thing that I have no issues with. I was there in the wilderness with Claire. I easily followed Anarch's decent deeper into madness. I could smell and feel the magic, both good and evil in the air. DeBlassie's world is based on a framework similar to our own and I think that also helps to make the reader feel as if they are there.
Overall I would definitely recommend The Unholy. My main issue being I wish there was just a bit more to certain parts of it the book itself. I'm giving it 4 out of 5 stars. It is available both in print and e-format so if you are looking for an intriguing read to pick up I think it is worth putting on your list to get.
If you want to find out more about Paul DeBlassie III and The Unholy check out his spotlight here on my blog. Along with his interview there is also an excerpt from The Unholy to enjoy.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review to be included as part of the Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge on my blog. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.