Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand



Title: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: 1.4.2011
Genre: Paranormal YA
Keywords: Nephilim, Angels, Romance, Love Triangles, Mystery, Purpose, Visions
Pages: 435
Description (from Goodreads):

In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees . . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

UNEARTHLY, Cynthia Hand’s debut novel, offers a unique take on angel mythology, a strong heroine, and a love triangle that has the potential to upset destiny.


I’m a bit divided when it comes to ‘angel’ books. Some of them I really like… and some are almost too formulaic. Hand, however, doesn’t fall into this trap. I liked that Clara was the character that has to deal with the power, secrets, and choices, rather than the human girl who falls for the dark, gorgeous, tortured supernatural being. Don’t get me wrong – I like this formula if the writing and plot measure up, but it’s definitely nice to see something different.


When it comes to love triangles, I don’t see the point unless there reader is actually going to be torn between the two candidates. By the end of the novel, I thought I’d picked a side, but Hand does her authorly duty and keeps the reader on their toes. It isn’t just about personality and looks with this situation… I’m curious to see what other twists Hand will throw into the next couple novels… and if I’ll stick with my choice for Clara.


In this first installment, we start to explore the world of the Nephilim. What ended up being mostly background information in UNEARTHLY looks like it’s going to be at the forefront of the plot for the next book. I find Clara’s mother particularly intriguing. She withholds a lot of information from Clara and I’m hoping we find out more about her past in book two.


All in all, UNEARTHLY is a well-written, suspenseful novel that is sure to find fans among those with a taste for supernatural romance.

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9 thoughts on “Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

  1. Thanks for the review! The only other angel book that I've read (that I can recall at the moment) is Hush, Hush – and it was an okay read.This sounds more promising! I'll have to check it out! Nothing like a good love triangle that keeps us on our toes! 🙂

  2. I loved this book! I also feel like the information was being held back by Clara's mother in this book. I'm really excited to see what happens next! Glad you enjoyed it, too (:

  3. I've been hanging out for the book ever since I saw the cover – which, despite some of the comments above, I actually really like! I also love the Australian cover version. Great review though. As you mentioned, while I love the 'girl falls for hottie with supernatural secret' – it's so nice to see a fresh take thrown into the mix. I have this on hold at the library, so waiting *patiently* for it to come in!

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