Article first published as Book Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand on Blogcritics.
As Clara’s visions increase, they put her somewhere in a wooded area,where all around there is fire, and in the midst of the clearing is a boy about her age. She only sees him from the back, but she is sure it is no one she knows. As she shares this with her mother, she describes the smell of smoke, the overwhelming feeling of sadness and that somehow she knows that she has to save him. Because it is her first vision, it is only a taste of her purpose which will get stronger as the time for her to act gets closer.
They both realize that what she has seen in her vision means they will have to leave California. The clarity of her vision gives them the information that they need, this vision, this purpose, is the reason that she was born.
They will have to relocate, using the information gleaned from the vision to put them in the right place. She is not ready for that, and yet she knows there is no choice. Her family will be uprooted because of her vision, it will affect them all. Her younger brother Jeffrey, also angel-blood, has no say, they go where the purpose is.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming is where her vision leads. They find a comfortable home and a great new school. As her power gets stronger, her hair begins to glow whenever she feels intense emotions. Because of the effect that has on most normal human beings, her mother has helped her to die it red to dampen the glow. The red however mixes with the gold of her hair and becomes an orange color. Nothing they do will change the color so that is how she must present herself to her new school. Her brother fits in instantly and makes friends quickly. She however struggles, having to overcome the orange hair, but finally makes friends with two different girls in her various classes. Through it all her purpose becomes the focus, building and expanding, putting her at odds with both her new friends and her family.
Cynthia Hand puts together a wonderful insightful story, full of fun and danger. Her characters leap right off the page, with humor and human feelings. In Unearthly, she has put together a cast of characters, born with angel-blood, on earth for a purpose. She weaves together a story full of feelings and emotions. She has incorporated a unique form of lineage, mixed it with teenage angst and fears, coming up with a story sure to pull at your emotions.
She sprinkles in edgy characters, keeping the suspense strong, only hinting at their purpose and capabilities. As Clara tries to fulfill her purpose she is pulled, first by love and later by the visions, putting her at odds with her heritage. And through it all the danger pushes itself through, keeping the pace of the story moving quickly.
Will Clara make the right decisions, based off her visions and her purpose, and will she overcome the danger that is threaded through it all?