Am obsessed with gothic books, and UNHOLY TERRORS is literally the perfect marriage of fantasy and gothic.
Monstrous, lovely, enthralling, forbidden. This hits every single gothic vibe you could want. I walked away from this book changed, because omg this prose–this prose. I want to eat it off a silver spoon. This book is so gorgeously written with such clever turns of phrase and evocative descriptions. It’s the kind of book that you want to drown in, that you will keep thinking long after you turn the last page. I also had the pleasure of blurbing UNHOLY TERRORS and am so pleased to gush further in this review!
“You would make a beautiful monster.”
The story follows Everline as she breaks her vows and ventures into the monster filled moors to find answers about her past. She is a warden of the wall, tasked with keeping monsters away, although she alone is without magic unlike the rest of the wardens. Everline is such a complex, layered character: so sharp and stabby and determined to be brutal, but then under the enchanted armour you catch a glimpse of how tender and vulnerable she truly is. She just wants to know why she doesn’t belong. Who she is. Where she’s meant to be. There’s also a fractious sister-sister relationship, as Everline and Briar end up unwillingly sharing this journey to save Everline’s best friend Lux (who is also Briar’s lover).
The memory of his bloodied kiss is like the touch of a ghost.
And I need to take a moment for Ravel, the boy who is so vicious and monstrous and spilling over with uncanny and inhuman claws and fangs–but yet is an absolute sweetheart deep down inside. The raw way he cherished Everline had me on the floor. Every time the book described Ravel, I was just [clenches fist] so enraptured. He is meant to be a mindless monster and Everline is confused why he seems so…human but yet not human. Their hatred for each other is so palpable, and the way they fall in love while still distrusting each other is addictive to read. It’s enemies-to-lovers the way I crave: claws and teeth and generational hatred and monstrous love.
I also deeply love books that deal with the complexities of families. There is so much hurt and angst here as both Everline and Ravel have complex relationships with parental figures and their siblings, and that really defines so much of their journeys.
“How often would you … need me?”
Ravel moves a step closer so there’s only the barest space between us. The heat of him radiates against my own skin like a fever. “And what if I said I needed you every night?”
“Then I would come to you every night.“
Also a moment for the ruinous descriptions, the decrepit falling apart churches, the wicked saints and barren land and bone relics. It’s the kind of world that took my breath away. The overall vibe was also giving me Gideon of the Ninth meets Jon Snow at the Wall feelings, and just kind of loved that. If you want a fantasy that feels freshly unique while also paying immaculate homage to all the best gothic tropes and aesthetics, then you definitely need this.
The other vespertine look like monsters. This one looks like a monster wearing a boy’s face.
Yet he’s a monster all the same.
Read it for:
♡ rich, evocative gothic aesthetics
♡ ruinous, mouldering descriptions that are so gorgeous
♡ so, so atmospheric
♡ monster boy with secret heart of gold
♡ fearsome girls with armour and knives
♡ saints and bones and relics and sins
♡ monsters everywhere
♡ complicated family/sibling relationships
♡ forbidden romance x enemies to lovers
Monstrous boys and girls in armour and a romance that will sink teeth into your dark heart, UNHOLY TERRORS is an absolutely phenomenal read. The vibes were immaculate.
Thank you to PenguinTeen for the copy!
And though he’s never claimed to be anything else, I still don’t know which is the truth: the monster or the boy. Perhaps it is both a borderland where one eclipses the other. Horns and bones and claws, gentle fingers and soft breath and my name spoken like a secret.
He’s painfully lovely in the same way as a coiled snake or a nightshade plant full of bright, deadly berries. A loveliness that will lure you close so it can poison you.
The choreography of our violence is marked out on the ground like a pattern to be tailored.
goodreads | blackwells | dymocks | penguin teen
published October 17, 2023