Review: The Unwilling by Kelly Braffet

The UnwillingAuthor: Kelly Braffet
Publisher: Mira
Released: February 11th, 2020
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Child abuse, psychological abuse, animal death (hunting – graphic), consent concerns, graphic death scenes
Rating: 3 kitties

I received a copy of The Unwilling through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Unwilling is the latest novel from the mind of Kelly Braffet, and this is a novel forcing opinions. It seems like people either love or hate it. So there’s no doubt that this is going to be a book that’ll get your emotions going.

This is a fantasy tale of magic, prophecies forced to fruition, and pride. This is the story of one prophecy – and all of the work and effort put into forcing its appearance and accuracy. It’s a unique look on that concept, as countless people work together to make it happen.

It all focuses on several young children. But are they key figures in this plot, or are they merely pawns? Only time will tell.

I’m not going to lie to you; this is a graphic telling. There were times where it was honestly too much for me, and I found myself skipping several pages ahead just to get away from what was happening. If that is not something you’re looking for, then you might want to move on. If you’re not certain, take a peek at my warning below, it might help you decide.


“He closed his eyes and saw, on the inside of his eyelids, the woman’s hard, angular sigil, burning like a horse brand.”

Spoiler Warning

Warnings: The Unwilling is perhaps the most graphic and harrowing novel I’ve read in recent times, which is saying something. This novel depicts a lot of uncomfortable subjects and scenes. So many that I’m not entirely confident that I got them all. Inside this book, you’ll find scenes portraying: child abuse, psychological abuse, animal death (a graphic hunting scene involving dogs and deer), consent concerns (an abortion carried out on an unconscious woman), graphic death scenes (hunting dogs again, and a pregnant woman), and probably a lot more that I’m forgetting.

I’m honestly not even sure where, to begin with my review for The Unwilling. I suppose I could start off with the writing, which was actually quite beautifully done. You can see that Braffet has a strong grasp of storytelling methods, showcasing her ability to plan ahead.

The Unwilling featured several storytelling techniques that I like. Mainly, the use of multiple points of view. I love it when an epic fantasy does this, for a variety of reasons. One of which being that it allows for a larger cast of characters.

I honestly do mean it when I say that I don’t think this novel is for anyone. I myself struggled with it, but mostly because of the graphic and detailed nature of certain scenes and elements. Had those been removed, I think I would have had an easier time enjoying this novel.

I did take a look at other reviews, before diving into mine. It was a case of needing to know how others felt, in order to help me process my own emotions. It looks like people either loved or hated this book. Those that loved it were able to dive into the core of the story Braffet was telling. Others, like myself, were constantly put off by the very elements I’ve already mentioned.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing that people are forming strong opinions about this book. Though I think that means that my review can only say so much on that matter. I can only tell you how I felt, and hope that it helps you made an informed decision when diving into this book.

About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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