Jack Croxall is a phenomenal storyteller, proven in his previous works. The first book in his Victorian era trilogy, Tethers, left us in suspense of what is to come and it seems like it has been an eternity, but finally, Unwoven is upon us. The author’s likeable and charismatic characters left a lasting impression in my mind and I was eager to read this sequel, as it promised more of the original’s charm and subtle fantasy elements that made the original so, well, original.
Unwoven takes place 18 months after the first instalment, and in all honesty, much has changed in the quiet village of Shraye. Karl Scheffer is now working in a school – a reference hinted at in Tethers. But more importantly, Karl and Esther (the other protagonist in the series) are not on speaking terms anymore. Why? What has happened? It isn’t long though before the two lost friends are reunited on a journey; forced to work together to discover the true origins behind the Viniculum – a supernatural stone that allowed Karl to see pictures and events before him. Will they put their differences aside to save the life of a mutual friend?
I think it is a bold move by the author to introduce this tense relationship between the two protagonists. Especially since in the first book, both Karl and Esther’s chemistry and platonic relationship were at it’s heart. Why turn everything around? Well for starters, it adds a new dynamic and an original one at that. Their tension shakes things up a bit and it was interesting to see how it was going to play out. Jack Croxall doesn’t release the details behind their unfriendship for want of a better term quickly, but instead, expands upon it, leaving you guessing until much later in the story.
Esther was a highlight in Tethers, and not just for me, as many reviews have stated her to be their favourite character. She was lovable, spunky and rebellious, but all in a charming way. Here Esther has other things on her mind. She is out for blood. We get to see a much more dark and menacing side to her, showing us her coming of age personality has maybe taken a turn for the worse. Karl on the other hand seems to have matured sensibly and although often acts responsibly, seems a little too serious at times. Although, his loyal nature and inquisitive side that got him into trouble in Tethers does shine through, rather cheekily actually.
Unwoven does have a perfect balance of action and information. You are never far from something happening, drawing you in, forcing you to keep the book open for another minute longer. Yet, I’ve got to say that the dialogue in here is superb. Natural, authentic and true to the Victorian times, Jack Croxall manages to convey emotion and sincerity in bounds. I only wish I had that skill. The way the characters interact with one another is one of the stand out aspects to this book. I felt like you get to see more of Karl’s way of thinking more in here. It’s a nice touch and shows how far Karl has progressed in the 18 months we’ve been away.
The author’s writing style seems more sharper, more direct this time around, which makes for a quick read. Paragraphs are short, description and imagery spaced out to allow the reader to imagine much for themselves. I think it is a very mature approach to his voice, expanding on his debut rather than matching it. So when Esther is quickly unsheathing her sword, the action erupts in seconds.
I guess one of the most distinguishable differences in here when compared to Tethers is the length. Unwoven is considerably shorter, and for some, I would think it would be a little disappointing. I would say however, that this is in fact more to do with the fact that Jack Croxall has such a addictive writing style, you just wish the story could continue further.
Unwoven is more an intermediary in the trilogy, surely linking its fantastic debut to the final conclusion. Yet, despite its length, Unwoven is a tightly-knit adventure that picks you up right from the start and leaves you at another shocking cliffhanger at its end. Jack Croxall is a superb storyteller; a master of a charming and effortless yarn that will have you giddy for days. It’s also darker, more intense than Tethers, which shows its progression from beginning to middle, and now we must wait for the end. Perfect for any lover of YA or for any reader who enjoys a well told story, Unwoven is a brilliant for an afternoon read.
Unwoven is available in eBook from:
I reviewed Tethers, the first book in the trilogy last year, which you can read here!
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