Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman – ARC Review!

Iselia “Seelie” Graygrove looks just like her twin, Isolde… but as an autistic changeling trying to navigate her unpredictable magic, Seelie finds it more difficult to fit in with the humans around her. When Seelie and Isolde are caught up in a heist gone wrong and make some unexpected allies, they find themselves unraveling a larger mystery that has its roots in the history of humans and fae alike.

 Both sisters soon discover that the secrets of the faeries may be more valuable than any pile of gold and jewels. But can Seelie harness her magic in time to protect her sister, and herself?

Seelie may look exactly like her twin sister Isolde, but they are far from the same. Seelie is a changeling, something that mean she finds it extremely difficult to blend in with those around her, not helped by her lack of control over her magical powers. So when she unexpectedly gets dragged along to a heist that goes drastically wrong, Seelie and Isolde find themselves on a journey to find long lost treasure, and they aren’t alone. Seelie feels there is something more at work here, something darker, but if she is protect her sister and those she now finds herself begrudgingly liking, she will have to delve further into her power and past than she ever has before, and what she finds there might surprise them all.

I so wanted to love this book, and for the most part I did enjoy it, but there were some things that just kept taking me out of the story and one of those was the fact we only get told this tale from one POV. Don’t get me wrong, Seelie was a great POV, and, from what I have heard others, much more educated in the subject than me say, brilliantly written as an autistic character. Housman shows how overwhelming things that most people would find normal, everyday, can be for autistic people. How their thought processes differ, and how small changes to their norm can drastically affect their way of life. As a changeling, Seelie has been treated as something different, something to be afraid of most of her life, except for Isolde and her parents, who have never treated her as anything other than family. And Seelie would do anything to protect them. She is forthright, strong and unfailingly loyal to those she loves and I loved seeing her grow as a character throughout this journey.

So, no, my problem wasn’t Seelie herself it was more than this story was screaming for another POV, there were just too many parts where the story jumped, be it because Seelie had been hurt, or simply missed the conversation and because we didn’t get that insight we would through another POV it made it feel like we missed big, sometimes important parts of the story. And there was so much potential! We have Isolde, the protective bad-ass thief sister whose insight definitely would have propelled the story, but also given a better insight into Seelie’s behaviour and thought process. We also have Olani and Raze who join our sisters on their journey. Olani was bad-ass to the max and I adored her character, and Raze was your not so typical hero, a little on the sulky side but I still liked him. These would have made for fantastic POV’s, and it would have allowed for a lot more development of them as characters because it was certainly lacking in some parts.

The world was well built, we get plenty of deep dive into the history of the world, how the Fae once ruled there and then were cast out, as well as how certain familial lines gained and kept magical gifts. It never went too deep, keeping it on a simple need to know to further the story basis which I enjoyed because it kept the story moving at a quicker pace. Housman keeps us on our toes with plenty of plot twists, as well as a few emotional hits throughout the story, but one of the things that annoyed me a little was the pacing. The first part of the story moved slower, letting us get to know the world and the characters that inhabit it, which is fine, give me the slow start with all the world building, but then Housman kind of quadrupled the pace in the second half, meaning that a lot of the big events that happened ( and there were a few) kind of flew by, sometime with little to no detail thanks to Seelie not being around to witness it, and I really struggled to get myself back into the story.

There was… potential for romance? I suppose. But considering this was described as the start of a swoony duology, it was a bit of a let down. Seelie and Rafe have potential, and maybe this will be developed more in book two, but by the end I was kind of fine with them not having any romantic feelings between them, so I think the authors going to have to work pretty hard to get them back on track. But Isolde and Olani… now them I am here for. The flirting, the touches, the glances. Even though we didn’t get their POV we still get to see glimpses of their relationship progressing & I would be disappointed if they didn’t get together in book two.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with this book. It had a lot of potential, but just never quite manifested any of it. Seelie was a great character, and I enjoyed learning about the world and magic, but the story was just too jumpy for me to truly get invested.

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