The Unwilling by Kelly Braffet ★☆☆☆☆ #BookReview #BookBlog


Primary Genre(s): Fiction, Fantasy
Published: 11 February 2020 by HARLEQUIN-MIRA
Page count: 576
My Format: eARC via NetGalley
Cover: Great
Pacing: Erratic
Ending: Ugh…
Would I recommend it: No
Commission Link: Buy The Unwilling

My rating: ☆☆☆☆

Synopsis from Goodreads
The Unwilling is the story of Judah, a foundling born with a special gift and raised inside Highfall castle along with Gavin, the son and heir to Lord Elban’s vast empire. Judah and Gavin share an unnatural bond that is both the key to her survival… and possibly her undoing.

As Gavin is groomed for his future role, Judah comes to realize that she has no real position within the kingdom, in fact, no hope at all of ever traveling beyond its castle walls. Elban – a lord as mighty as he is cruel – has his own plans for her, for all of them. She is a mere pawn to him, and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

But outside the walls, in the starving, desperate city, a magus, a healer with his own 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 life with no name and no history will soon uncover more to her story than she ever imagined.

An epic tale of greed and ambition, cruelty and love, this deeply immersive novel is about bowing to traditions and burning them down.

My Thoughts
I was invited to participate in the blog tour for this book and based on the synopsis I couldn’t say yes fast enough! That synopsis sounds great doesn’t it? Well, I am sad to say that I did not like the book and I will explain why below. Here are my pros and cons for The Unwilling:


  1. The cover art is great!
  2. I liked Judah, Gavin, Elly (Gavin’s betrothed), and Theron (Gavin’s younger brother) as characters. Their relationships with each other were at least interesting, albeit undeveloped. I thought the story about them had some potential early on, but I was ultimately disappointed. (I know this isn’t necessarily a pro, but I’m honestly struggling to come up with good things to say.)


  1. This book was way too long and that is mainly because it was unbelievably repetitive. Plot points were repeated over and over, scenes were discussed multiple times, and just general every day activities were described ad nauseam. I seriously considered DNFing the book multiple times, but since this was a blog tour I felt obligated to continue. I am not kidding when I say that at least 40% of this book could be edited out and you wouldn’t miss a thing.
  2. Along with the repetitiveness, I felt like the story meandered way too much. I didn’t feel like I got enough backstory on anything or anyone. The story would start to delve into something that felt interesting and focused, only to go off on a tangent to something else entirely. Considering the book was almost 600 pages long, I really should have known a lot more about the characters, a lot more about their motivations, and a lot more about the world they lived in. As written, I felt like the story barely scratched the surface of any of these things and the lack of depth and focus was very noticeable to me.
  3. The story is quite violent and there were two particular scenes that I thought were excessively violent… just full of explicit, graphic, and gratuitous viciousness. It wasn’t necessary and the story could have told with less violence very easily. I’m not typically bothered by the concept of violence (in general) when it is integral to the story, but these scenes were way, way, WAY over-the-top and not necessary as presented.
  4. In addition to the violence, this book was full of abuse of every kind imaginable. No one is happy, everyone is abused in some way, and the story just isn’t pleasant.
  5. Even the world-building was weak in my opinion. Usually, when I read fantasy novels I can create elaborate images in my head about where the story takes place, what places look like, what rooms look like, etc. As I think back now, the most vivid visual I can remember is Judah’s hair color since it was unusual in the world they lived in… everything else I remember from the novel is just generic and uninspiring.
  6. I had to go through about 500 pages of the story before I found out what Judah’s special gift was… and when I did find out I honestly wondered why it even mattered.
  7. The ending was ridiculous. Full stop.

There is a good book in here somewhere. I mean that honestly. Judah, Gavin, Elly, and Theron’s stories have potential to be a fantastic novel and one I’d be interested in. Perhaps if we’d known earlier what Judah’s special gift was, or if the backstory about why Judah’s gift was important had been explained more thoroughly, or if the whole Magus storyline made more sense, or if the story had been less violent, or… I could go on and on. The bottom line is this book just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Thank you to NetGalley and HARLEQUIN-MIRA for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy The Unwilling. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Click here for a description of my rating scale.

(image from Goodreads)

14 thoughts on “The Unwilling by Kelly Braffet ★☆☆☆☆ #BookReview #BookBlog

  1. I have seen three DNFs and your review just today. I am glad I didn’t request it and I’m going to take it off my TBR. Violence doesnt bother me but meandering repeating plots will do me in to no end.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. To be honest, even that synopsis would be a no from me.
    I’m very careful about accepting books for review and rarely do blog tours, because in my experience the books are not often that good yet you feel obliged to read and review :/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve only done a few blog tours and so far the books have been pretty good… until this one. I think next time I might do a little more research before accepting.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sure there are lots of exceptions but I’m not keen on feeling obliged to review a book (and for a blog tour, pretty much everyone appears to have positive reviews) which I’m not sure I’ll like.

    Liked by 1 person

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