Book Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Posted June 19, 2013 by Stormy in Books / 15 Comments


by Cynthia Hand


Original Publishing Date: January 4, 2011
Length: 435 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen

Obtained Via: Amazon Daily Deal
Format Read In: Kindle E-Book



In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees . . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.


I haven’t had much experience with angel books, but the little experience I’ve had has not left me with a whole lot of confidence in books that carry that label, which is why Unearthly was such a breath of fresh air. The angel mythology in Unearthly is definitely a new twist, but retains enough roots that it’s still recognizable. And the angels in this book are actually useful, not just humans with wings, which is nice.

Clara was a pretty great main character for the most part. I liked her, even when her flaws were shining through. She’s angelic, so she KNOWS she has a mission from God and she struggles with balancing that against other teenage predicaments. She’s far from perfect, and she has a tendency to be a bit self-absorbed, which other characters are quick to call her out on. However, she’s still a teenage angel I’d want on my side. Clara’s entire family is a really heart-warming portrayal in YA. There’s some sibling stuff with her brother, and Clara and her mom are pretty close, though they have quite a few disagreements as Clara tries to sort out her purpose.

The plot was well-paced and fairly interesting, with a few surprises here and there that I didn’t see coming. It wasn’t the most tightly woven plot or the most exciting in some places, but overall I was interested in the book, and if anything, this was the biggest weak point in the novel, which is a pretty good indicator to how GOOD the book was overall.

And perhaps the best part of reading Unearthly is that I finally understand why people love the Christian/Clara/Tucker love triangle so much. It seems like every time I read a review for the Unearthly series, bloggers LOVE this triangle, even bloggers who typically loathe triangles, which naturally made me curious. And I think the love triangle in Unearthly is a love triangle in the best possible way: It shows two sides of Clara, and her dueling with herself between the two. While it’s nice to not have a bad boy/good boy love triangle and I think BOTH love interest are pretty good male characters, I have to say at this point I’m rooting for Tucker, which should again point to Hand’s writing ability since I try to stay far away from cowboys and country boys as much as possible(I’m from Texas–I’m over the cowboys), so for me to actually root for one says quite a bit.

Final Impression: As far as I have found, Unearthly really is the best YA Angel book available. I’m excited to read the sequels, but even without the knowledge of a series, Unearthly has interesting and likable characters, a well-placed plot, and a love triangle I actually really enjoyed.  4/5 cupcakes. 



4 Stars

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15 responses to “Book Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

  1. Kelly


    I’m so happy you liked this one! Be prepared to be absolutely devastated with the next one – Hand is one cruel lady I tell ya!

    • stormydawnc

      I’ve read Hallowed, and yup, devastated. . . but also my favorite so far. Such a difficult book(emotion-wise), but so, so worth it.

  2. Lisa

    I can easily say Unearthly is the best YA Angel book I’ve read so far! I haven’t continued the series yet, but I am excited to do so. The characters and the story are interesting, and while I’m usually not a big fan of love triangles this one isn’t too bad! I hope you and I continue to enjoy the rest of the series!

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  3. So far this has been the only angel series that has worked for me, for all of the reasons that you mentioned: its take on the lore, a protagonist who’s realistically flawed, and a love triangle that I actually like (though officially, I am Team Tucker). I hope you enjoy the rest of the series! 🙂

  4. Ana

    I have never actually read any YA books featuring angels but I think this one might be the one for me! A well-done love triangle is also something that I think I would love reading about in this book. Great review, Stormy! 😀

    • stormydawnc

      Thanks! And I’d definitely recommend this one. I think I like it because unlike most angel YA, it’s not a take on fallen angels–it’s just an interesting angel mythology.

  5. Like you, I think this series by Cynthia Hand is the one time I’ve enjoyed a young adult book with an angel premise. I’ve been burned by that concept so many times before, so Unearthly really was like a breath of fresh air. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, too! 🙂

    • stormydawnc

      It really is completely refreshing in a market that tends heavily towards fallen angels–I’m really glad Cynthia Hand didn’t go that route!

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